Visit Bulgaria and become part of the different world of the Kukeri Carnival

Kukeri Carnival – The boundless magic called Kukeri Carnival!

Among the most colourful customs in the Bulgarian Calendar of traditions are the Kukeri Games. When you travel to Bulgaria you will see for yourselves that the custom is preserved with its whole pagan power. Although in each different region it is characterized by its peculiarities, as a whole, the ceremonies and rituals are pretty much the same. The sound of the cow-bells called ‘chan’ that starts early in the morning, the scary, hairy masks and crazy costumes and the people wearing them jumping around, following a scenario of folk theatre, is so spectacular that once you’ve been part of it, you will come back again and again.

Travel to Bulgaria for a festive Bulgaria holiday

kukeri carnival

The roots of this holiday can be sought as far back as the early centuries because long before Christianity. Bulgarians used to worship Surva and devoted the holiday of New Year to that God. Asking Him to bless their fields and send happiness and prosperity to them.

In ancient pagan times the man used to believe that the world of the living and that of his ancestors are one whole and closely connected. Man used to believe in his own fertility like in the fertility of his land and animals. Being convinced that those ancestors from ‘the other world’ had the necessary extraordinary power ‘to ensure’ that fertility, he sought for connection with them in every significant moment of his life. To be able to experience it, man needed to be ‘somebody else’. The mask is his means ‘to get to the other side’ and contribute to his own prosperity. The mask stays at the border between ‘our’ and ‘the other world’.

Being part of a Kukeri Carnival

To be part of a Kukeri Carnival is one of the things to do in Bulgaria. The best places to visit in Bulgaria for kukeri are Pernik, Razlog, Smolyan. Actually, almost all around the country there are celebrations like that. Whole Bulgaria tries to scare the evil spirits away and meet the new season, spring. You can travel to Bulgaria and ‘cleanse’ yourselves while dancing and jumping around with the kukeri.

kukeri carnival

From Christmas till beginning of spring Bulgaria is literary ‘invaded’ by Kukers. Winter rituals start during ‘the dirty days’ (12 days from Christmas on) when according to the people’s beliefs, ‘evil power’ would come from the world of the dead. They are mainly spread in the western Bulgaria. The main idea of the Kukers of this region is to send ‘the evil spirits’ away. Because they might harm the living. The only protected are the ones with masks. And not only are they protected, but they also have the power to protect the others.

The biggest in Bulgaria and on the Balkans manifestation of traditional folk games and rituals with masks is the International Festival of the Masquerade Games ‘Surva’ in Pernik, Bulgaria. Since 1966 the Municipality of Pernik has been organizing it. And then, in 1985, it got the status of an International Festival. In 1995, the town of Pernik was admitted as a member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities.

The manifestation of Kukeri Carnival there, like in the other parts of Bulgaria happening later, is really spectacular and inspiring.

You like adventures? Then plan your Bulgaria vacation, find a scary mask (maybe) and Kukeri Carnival to be best part of it. That you will long after remember.

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  1. I read about the rose festival. Now kukeri carnival. My friends who went to Bulgaria are right. It’s a country so much interesting. Are there more festivals in Bulgariia?

    • Hello KandaceFerri,
      Oh, yes! Bulgaria is full of carnivals and festivals. We even have a festival of the blackberries:-)

  2. The festival is a good reason to visit Bulgaria. what I read about the country, it’s beauty, history and nature


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