The SURVA festival is an international festival of masquerade games. It takes place each year at the end of January in Pernik, Bulgaria. In this video you will experience with me the SURVA festival, listed on UNESCO heritage list. It is the biggest event of this type not only in Bulgaria but on the Balkans as well.
The groups: Around 7 000 people or about 100 groups from every folklore region of Bulgaria, as well as groups from Europe, Asia, and Africa take part in the contest. The contestants come to Surva festival to win, to experience the atmosphere, to have fun and, of course, to get the recognition that they have been part of it all.
The tradition: Masquerade rituals come from old pagan times and are still alive in the Bulgarian folklore tradition.
Bulgarian masquerade games are mainly interwoven in the contexts of the holidays between Christmas and Easter. In different regions of Bulgaria men put on masks around New Year, during the twelve days of Christmas (Christmas till Epiphany), on Sirni Zagovezni (the Sunday before Lent), and on Todorova Nedelia (the Sunday before the start of the Easter Fast). In Western Bulgaria, the people who perform these rituals around New Year are known as Survakari while those who participate in the pre-spring masquerade games are referred to as Kukeri.
The guests: The citizens of Pernik and visitors from other parts of Bulgaria and abroad come to watch the show so they can be part of the magic. They want to see the masks in person, they want to touch them for good luck and good health. You will surrender to the appeal of Bulgarian folklore reinforced with healthy helpings of food and drinks. You will feel the creative presence of generations of exponents of the tradition.
For two whole days groups from the country and abroad will show you their unique traditions, masks and costumes in the town square and the streets of Pernik.
Let’s have fun!
If you are interested in festivals in Bulgaria, check out my video from the rose festival and subscribe to my YouTube channel.