Pernik and Festival ‘Surva’ – Kukeri
Pernik is a town located about 30 km from capital of Bulgaria – Sofia. Many years the town has been known as the steel and metallurgical industry hearth of Bulgaria. Besides, the city is famous with festival ‘Surva’. It is international event, combining Folklore mask traditions form the whole Balkan Peninsula.’ Surva ‘is the largest in the Balkans and Bulgaria event for traditional folk games and dances with masks. The festival is organized by the Municipality of Pernik since 1966 and has an international status. Since 2008 is held the last weekend of January. During the festival is conducted international conference dedicated to masks and masking.
The people, usually men are masked with scary masks of animals and large bells attached to the belt. These masked people are called ‘kukeri’. The purpose of covering the body with animal hair and face is to perform traditional rituals intended to scare away evil spirits. The festival is held after the New Year before Lent. The kukeri walk and dance through villages to scare away evil spirits with their costumes and the sound of their bells. They are also believed to provide a good harvest, health, and happiness to the village during the year. Participants are about 5000 people from more than 70 counties of Central and Western Europa. Besides dancing Kukeri, you can enjoy delicious traditional food, handicraft and various wines.
Pernik main square is the scene for many local dances, singing and performance in traditional costumes. The performances are different every day.
There are many craft shops where you can see or buy different handmade stuff and places to eat where you will certainly enjoy Balkan grill and pickled salads – gherkins, cabbage, peppers, green tomatoes etc. Of course you should not miss to try Bulgarian ketchup called lutenitsa but much tastier, garnished with red wine!
If you are able or at this time of the year you are in Bulgaria, you should visit Pernik and the festival ‘Surva’. This is an incredible experience and of course will drive evil spirits away.