Zheravna Festival Of The National Costumes
Zharavna Festival of the National Folk Costumes was first staged in 2008. The idea stemmed from a wedding ceremony on which the bride, the groom, and the guests were dressed in traditional folk costumes and which gained great popularity and made headlines on the news. The aim of the event is to promote the Bulgarian traditional spirit among residents and tourists. The festival presents an opportunity for experiencing a unique century-old atmosphere, meeting like-minded people and to take part in folk dances, crafts, songs and culinary degustation.
The festival is staged for three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) in the month of August, just on the eve of the religious feast Assumption of the Theotokos.
The organizer is the owner of the national dance club “Bulgare” Hristo Dimitrov, private sponsors, Zheravna Town Hall, and Kotel Municipality.
Zheravna is an architecture and ethnographic reserve that has preserved the traditional atmosphere of a Renascent Bulgaria. The very location of the festival is in the open, amid a pine forest on Dobromeritza hill.
The program includes staging of a traditional Bulgarian wedding, art performances of various folk dance clubs from all over the country, rites (such as fire waking or “nestinarstovo”), degustation of traditional dishes, crafts, competitions for best authentic costume, games, concerts and many others.
Everyone attending the festival is asked to be dressed in a folk costume (authentic or stylized), apparel from the beginning of the twentieth century or priestly garments. Folk costumes, traditional for other peoples and countries, are also allowed. There is also an option for renting a costume at the entrance of the festival.
The festival has some other strict rules. It forbids, for example, the use of modern devices and accessories such as cell phones, watches, purses, sunglasses etc. The import of all kinds of plastic or paper products or packages (bottles, cups, plates, napkins) is also forbidden. Taking photos for the first two days is also not allowed in order to keep the ancient spirit of the event. As the organizers explain, “The prohibition of objects of modern life is necessary in order to give the fullest possible authenticity of the atmosphere in the desire to bring it closer to the Bulgarian life of a century and a half, which is one of the conditions for the festival. The idea is for the participants to jump back in time, as early as possible in the years of our Revival, the atmosphere in which our ancestors lived.”
The festival is promoted on the Internet through web page nosia.bg, and social media (Facebook, YouTube, etc.). It is also presented on various sites and events calendars. Video clips and TV reports are streamed on national media such as https://youtu.be/6_kkws2UYnQ, https://youtu.be/fJ_fBMoD3oA?list=RDCMUCESbtUwr86kTHqWj5AsyJpA
The festival entrance is with a fee per person or per group. The children and senior people benefit from discounts. Zheravna residents are exempt from paying entrance fees.
The festival also attracts a number of corporate and private sponsors.
Other incomes come from sale of food, goods and services, and participation in various activities.
Key success factors
- Unique century-old atmosphere, re-creating the traditional lifestyle away from the modern amenities and urban conveniences;
- Showcasing ethnic arts and culture;
- Visitors’ active involvement: participants are not mere spectators but take part in creation of their own experience;
- Educational, cultural and personal enrichment; enhanced national pride and identity;
- Numerous social benefits: visitors stay together for three days and have time to get to know each other in various settings and activities.
The global pandemic caused cancellation of the festival in 2020. There are plans for its staging in 2021 but it is uncertain to predict whether it will take place or not this year. It is probable that the pandemic can cause a decrease of the interest in participation in such mass crowded events for safety reasons.
Zheravna, Southeast Planning Region
Folk, ethnic festival, national costumes, traditions