Planning to visit Bulgaria soon? I can name more than 20 reasons to visit the country in 2018 but the best one would definitely be attending a cultural festival or event during your visit.
Think about it – what better way to enrich your experience than being to a happening with lots of local traditions and customs involved.
That’s why I scouted all over the web to find and bring to you the best festivals that are happening in Bulgaria in 2018. Although almost half of the year passed, there are still plenty of interesting events coming up that are worth checking out.
Not to mention the ridiculously cheap flight tickets to Sofia from all major cities in Europe (see my list of 12 wonderful destinations with best low-cost flights). With that in mind, plus the following list of more than 30 festival and events in 2018, there is literally no excuse to miss the opportunity to have a great trip to Bulgaria this year.
Scroll down, choose your event and start planning your upcoming trip!
!NOTE: The information below is updated as of May 1st 2018. Before you plan to visit any of the events, make sure to check the information in the corresponding websites. Any changes may occur at any point during the year.
EVENTS IN MAY 2018
● Sofia Restaurant Week
When: 5-13 May 2018 | Where: 29 restaurants in Sofia | More info: http://restaurantweek.bg/
Sofia Restaurant Week is a week-long festival in celebration of the diversity and quality of Sofia’s restaurants. During the week, 29 participating restaurants will offer a 3 course set menu for the fixed price of 29 leva, not including drinks and tips. No reason this is a top event in the capital – it includes some of my favourite restaurants of Sofia.
● Festival of Chiprovtsi carpets
When: 5-6 May 2018 | Where: Chiprovtsi, Montana | More info: The event on Facebook
The hand-woven, colourful carpets of Chiprovtsi have become not only a symbol of the city but of whole Bulgaria. They are part of UNESCO’s intangible world heritage because of their deftly woven geometric figures of humans, animals and birds in red, black, yellow, blue, brown and green. On this festival, you can find exhibition of the best traditional carpets from Chiprovtsi, various souvenirs including unique watches with thematic colours and many activities to help you get to know more about this custom.
● Wine & Gourmet Festival
Are you a wine lover? Do you want to visit one of the most beautiful cities in Bulgaria? Then Wine & Gourmet Festival in Old Town Plovdiv is the right event for you. For two full days you can enjoy various workshops, degustations, presentations and festivities. Check the program on the website for more info.
● XXII Stara Planina Fest “Balkan Folk 2018”
Stara Planina Fest ”Balkan Folk” is part of ”Euro Folk”, which holds festivals in different European countries during the whole year. Every year thousands of musicians, singers and dancers take part of it. In Bulgaria, the festival would be in one of the most beautiful Bulgarian cities – Veliko Turnovo.
● Discover.Vino World
When: 11-12 May 2018 | Where: Inter Expo Center, Sofia | More info: www.2018discover.divino.bg
Discover.Vino World includes exhibition and degustation of wines from all over the world. Special focus this eyar is given to roses and sparkling wines, present in the Bulgarian market. Working hours are: 11 May – 17:00 to 21:00; 12 May – 12:00 to 20:00. Ticket prices start from 19 BGN.
● Folklore Festival “With Bulgaria in the Heart”
During the three days of the festival, Kavarna will again welcome singers, dancers and instrumentalists – descendants of Bulgarians from Ukraine, Moldova, Albania, Kosovo and others. Guests of Kavarna will have the chance to see many traditional folklore performances by young artists and groups. Moreover, the northern Black Sea coast in Bulgaria offers many different ways to spend your vacation in Bulgaria.
● European Museum Night 2018
When: 19 May 2018 | Where: Sofia, Varna and other cities in Bulgaria | More info: Varna
During European Museum Night in 2018, tens of museums and galleries in many cities in Bulgaria are expected to take part in the European initiative with interesting exhibitions, concerts and various art events. The entrance to the participating museums and galleries will be free of charge. For the most up to date informtion, get in touch with the local Tourist Information Center in the city.
● Gabrovo Humor Carnival 2018 – “Gabrovo – My Little Brussels”
Every year, Gabrovo – the capital of laughter and humor in Bulgaria, organizes the funniest event in the country – Gabrovo Humor Carnival. Famous for their smart jokes and puns, locals dress up in coulourful costumes and march the city – this year on May 19th.
The festival will be greeted with a lot of music, confetti, sweets, and the traditional black cat with cut off tail – the symbol of Gabrovo, created as a joke. Actually, the tail of the cat is cut off because during winter the doors can be closed faster so the warmth of the house could be preserved.
This year’s motto – “Gabrovo – My Little Burssels”, aims to show the entrepreneurship and the business thinking of the locals, of course, with funny and sometimes ridiculous inventions.
● Carving Festival of Laughter
When: 19-20 May 2018 | Where: Gabrovo | More info: Facebook Event
This Carving Festival (of laughter) will be held again in Gabrovo – the capital of laughter and humor in Bulgaria. The event will be in the form of a competition of carved fruits and vegetables where the most creative and humorous item will win the contest.
EVENTS IN JUNE 2018
● Rose Festival 2018
When: 1-3 June 2018 | Where: Kazanlak and the Rose Valley | More info: Program
Rose Festival is one of the most remarkable events in Bulgaria. It’s dedicated to the beauty of the famous Kazanlak roses. The festival is happening between May 18th and June 10th but the peak is during the first three days of June. There are three main events you have to look out for: the election of Queen Rose, the parade along the streets of the town, and the early morning ritual in the rose fields.
● Kapana Fest 2018
In one of the most beautiful cities in Bulgaria – Plovdiv, and one of the most creative districts – Kapana, an innovative event will gather visitors from all over the country and abroad. During the three days of the summer edition of Kapana Fest in 2018, there will be various music performances, crafts, literature sessions, cinema, sport events, and of course – food and drinks.
● Nestinarstvo – Barefoot Fire Dance
When: 3-4 June 2018 | Where: Bulgari village, Strandzha mountain | More info: Facebook Event
Bare feet. Smoldering coals. A sky full of stars. Nestinarstvo – a traditional Bulgarian ritual, part of UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. It involves barefoot dances on smoldering coals performed by nestinari. The ritual is performed in several Bulgarian villages in the Strandzha Mountains with one of the most popular ones – Bulgari village. This ritual is a unique mixture of Eastern Orthodox beliefs and older pagan traditions from Strandzha Mountain.
● SoBAZAAR Green Edition
When: 9-10 June 2018 | Where: SOHO Sofia | More info: Facebook Event
Two festive days with a fine selection of 50 participants to spoil the senses. Food, music, limited series of interior design solutions, ladies’, men’s and children’s fashion, toys, books, bio cosmetics, jewellery and other accessories. Worth checking out on your June visit of Sofia.
● Opera in the Park
The garden of the Military Academy in Sofia will open its doors for the artists of the Sofia National Opera and Ballet. What better way to spend the summer days in the capital than going to an open air opera or ballet performance.
● Cherry Festival in Kyustendil
When: 23-24 June 2018 | Where: Kyustendil | More info: Website
The Cherry festival is bind with the glory of the Kyustendil region. During the festival exhibition of various varieties of cherries are presented along with exhibition tables, which are arranged and covered with this delicious fruit.
● Lavender Festival Karlovo 2018
When: 23-24 June 2018 | Where: Karlovo | More info: Program (only in Bulgarian)
The Lavender Festival will include tastings of lavender tea, rakia and various other products made with lavender, thematic talks, demonstrations, folklore dances and visits of the lavender fields in the region of Karlovo.
● IN THE PLACE International Short Film Festival
IN THE PALACE is an international festival dedicated to short films, new media and digital arts under 27 minutes in length. The main purpose of the Festival is to present contemporary film art from Bulgaria, Europe and the whole world.
● Festival of folk art “The Magic of Rila Mountain”
When: 29 June – 1 July 2018 | Where: Borovets | More info: Facebook Page
Between 29 of June -and 01 of July, you will have the chance to witness traditional Bulgarian folk music, culinary and crafts in Borovets resort. Located in the highest mountain in Bulgaria – Rila, the event visitors will be able to see various dance and music performances and taste different delights from the region.
● Apricot Festival 2018
When: 30 June 2018 | Where: Tutrakan | More info: TBE
Northeast Bulgaria is famous for its apricot plantations. And this June, Tutrakan will be home to the only Apricot Festival in Bulgaria. There will be exhibition of different types of apricots, tastings of apricot jams and pies, games and competitions, and tasting of the most beloved product from apricots – rakia. The event will be held in the Danube park in Tutrakan in the afternoon.
EVENTS IN JULY 2018
● July Morning 2018
When: 1 July 2018| Where: Kamen Bryag, north Black Sea coast | More info: TBE
July morning is a unique event celebrated only in Bulgaria. The name of the “festival” comes from the Uriah Heep’s song with the same name. Traditionally, the celebrations start on the night of 30 June and culminate with watching the sunrise over the sea on July 1st. The event involve rock music, dances and (not) sleeping under the stars.
The first and most popular place to welcome July Morning in Bulgaria is Kamen Bryag on the northern Black Sea Coast. It is close to the the easternmost point of Bulgaria, therefore where sun light first reach the country.
The festival has a sentimental value for locals since the Communist times. John Lawton of Uriah Heep has been performing “July Morning” in Kamen Bryag several times on this day.
● Bourgas Sand Sculptures Festival
In the Bourgas Park “Ezero”, immediately next to the beach, every summer there is a tiny city built of sand figures. This year’s theme is “Myths and Monsters”. You will be able to see many sand creatures – mighty gods and goddesses, legendary evil beings, giants, sorcerers, brave heroes, battles and adventures.
● Bansko Summer Theatre Festival
When: 2-7 July 2018 | Where: Bansko | More info: TBE
Bansko Summer Theatre Festival is held traditionally during the first week of July every year. For seven days, the visitors of the mountainous town have the opportunity to see a selection of the best theatrical performances presented in the country. Moreover, I can name you more than 20 other reasons to visit Bansko in summer.
● International Musical Mozart Festival Pravets
When: 12-15 July 2018 | Where: Pravets | More info: Facebook Page
For five festival days and nights there will be presented opera, operetta, symphonic, dance and chamber concerts and spectacles with the participation of renowned names from the world music stages, young opera talents from different countries, chamber classical and jazz formations, and more. During each edition of the festival, the organizers invariably dedicate the events of the festival program to their patron W. A. Mozart.
● National Lavender Festival General Toshevo
The National Lavender Festival will be held for the fifth year in General Tosheva near Dobrich. The event aims to promote the leading position of Bulgaria as a world leader in the production of lavender oil. During the two days of the festival, visitors can see and taste different products from lavender and enjoy some traditional folk program.
● Hills of Rock
When: 20-22 July 2018 | Where: Plovdiv | More info: https://hillsofrock.com/
One of the biggest Rock festivals in Bulgaria is coming to Plovdiv on 20-21 July this year – Hills of Rock. If you want to combine a visit to The European Capital of Culture in 2019 and your love of world-famous rock bands as Sabaton, The Raven Age and Dope, IRON MAIDEN, save the dates in your calendar!
● Bansko Summer Cinema Under the Stars
When: 25-28 July 2018 | Where: Bansko | More info: Cultural Calendar 2018 – Bansko
What better way to spend long summer days than an open-air mountain cinema. Traditionally, Bansko Summer Cinema Fest will take place int he central square of the popular mountain ski resort. The film festival aims to reveal the beauty of nature and extreme sports through various documentary movies. The entry is free.
● Festival Opera of the Peaks – Belogradchik Rocks 2018
When: TBA, usually second part of July | Where: Belogradchik | More info: www.operasofia.bg/en
Opera of the peaks is an innovative event that give the audience the opportunity to experience their favourite performances in a new way – in the foot of the magical Belogradchick Fortress. Traditionally organized in the second part of July, the guests can see opera and ballet works in the open air.
EVENTS IN AUGUST 2018
● Bagpipe Contest Gela
When: 4-5 August 2018 | Where: Gela | More info: Facebook Event
The aim of this festival is to promote the authentic Rhodope folklore and to preserve the local tradition. The guests of the event will have the chance to hear many traditional bagpipe performances. The festival has gained popularity and grew into an international forum.
● Bansko Jazz Fest
When: 4-11 August 2018 | Where: Bansko | More info: http://banskojazzfest.com/en/
Another highly anticipated event in Rila mountain is Bansko Jazz Fest – one of is the biggest summer musical event in Bulgaria. Throughout the festival week, jazz is played during the day and late at night on the central square as well as on various smaller stages in the large resort bars and restaurants. The concerts are free for the public.
● Zheravna Festival of the National Costume
When: 17-19 August 2018 | Where: Zheravna | More info: Facebook Page
This festival brings you closer to the life of the Bulgarians from once upon a time. Participation in the festival is a voluntary act and those who want to join it have to observe its rules. The main requirement is to be dressed in folk costume.
Mobile phones are allowed only in designated calling area. During the festival, there would be demonstrations of folk crafts, authentic Bulgarian folklore, traditional cuisine, rakia and wine.
● Bansko Opera Festival
When: 23-25 August 2018 | Where: Bansko | More info: Facebook Page
Bansko Opera Fest lets you enjoy the sounds of classical music under the stars. The performances will be held at the central square “Nikola Vaptsarov” in Bansko. Entry is free for public.
EVENTS IN SEPTEMBER AND NOVEMBER 2018
● Apollonia Festival of Arts
Apollonia Festival of Arts is held in one of the my favourite places on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast – Sozopol. It is a celebration of the achievements of Bulgarian artists. The festival includes theater, music, literature, cinema, ballet, children’s program, and more.
● Sofia Restaurant Week
When: 16-22 September 2018 | Where: Sofia | More info: http://restaurantweek.bg/
The second edition of Sofia Restaurant Week in 2018 will be held in September. A selection of restaurants in the Bulgarian capital will offer set menus for a fixed price. The aim is to celebrate the diverse culinary scene of Sofia.
● Plovdiv Restaurant Week
When: October, TBA | Where: Old Town Plovdiv | More info: Web
A week-long culinary festival which gives an opportunity to discover the Tastes of Plovdiv. Select restaurants will present their special set menus for a very attractive fixed price in one of the best cities of Bulgaria.
● Bansko Film Fest 2018
The biggest film festival for extreme sports, mountains and adventures in Bulgaria. The festival will offer the audience from Bulgaria and abroad a unique experience in a unique format – climbing, alpinism, freezing, extreme biking, kayaking, diving, surfing, etc. Expect various presentations, workshops and exhibitions. The program for 2018 to be announced soon.
Plan your trip to Bulgaria