When we’re not shooting landscape photography, we love exploring Bulgaria’s rich cultural traditions and events. This charming, ancient country grows in popularity with each passing year, as more and more people head down to its mysterious lands in hope of new adventure. For those of you who are looking for a unique Balkan experience (or a new photography project), we’ve handpicked the 15 best festivals in Bulgaria that are absolutely worth seeing…

Rose Festival

Bulgaria is one of the world’s leading rose oil producers so it makes sense that rose harvest in a big deal around here. That’s also the reason behind one of the country’s most famous festivals.

Woman Enjoy the Rose Festival in Bulgaria Image Source

The Rose Festival was first held in Bulgaria in 1903, and since it has become an important event that draws a lot of international attention. Every year, thousands of visitors (including foreign) make their way to the town of Kazanlak hoping to join in on the colorful events and festivities. The festival program includes the selecting and crowning of a Rose Queen as well as daily events, demonstrating the ritual of gathering and distilling of roses.

When:  Every first weekend of June
Where: Kazanlak
Directions from Sofia, Bulgaria

Kukeri Festival Pernik

The Kukeri of Bulgaria are one of the oldest and most fascinating Bulgarian traditions. Once a year, people from all across the country dress up as different kinds of ‘’monsters’’ and then participate in ritualistic games and parades. The folkloric rituals consist primarily of men and women and the colorful, handmade costumes and masks are very creative and unique.

Woman Enjoy the Rose Festival in Bulgaria

The dances happen throughout several villages or towns and are meant to banish evil spirits, bringing health, happiness, and a good harvest. This somewhat unusual tradition is said to date back to the Thracians who were well known for their pagan rituals and practices. The largest Kukeri event is the Surva Carnival, also referred to as the ‘’International Festival of the Masquerade Games’’. It takes place once a year in the town of Pernik, not too far from Sofia.

When:  Every first weekend of June
Where: Kazanlak
Directions from Sofia, Bulgaria

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