Top Events

Varna Summer International Festival, June–September

Rose Festival, June

Kapana Fest, June

International Jazz Festival, August

Apollonia Arts Festival, September

January

New Year festivities in Bulgaria can be colourful affairs, especially in rural areas where old customs are still followed. Snow covers much of the country and it is a peak time for winter sports.

St Vasil’s Day

Traditionally, New Year’s Day in the countryside is marked by young boys, known as sourvakari, tapping people with decorated twigs to wish them luck for the year ahead.

February

Cold and crisp, February is a quiet time of year in the cities, but the skiing and snowboarding season is often at its best. It's a good time for snowshoeing, too.

Golden Grapes Festival

To celebrate the patron saint of wine in Melnik and other winemaking areas, vines are pruned, sprinkled with wine and blessed by a priest. The festival is celebrated on the first or 14th day of February (often both).

March

March straddles winter and spring, so the weather can be unpredictable. Snowfall is still possible in the mountains though ski season is winding down. Tourist sites start to gradually open up again after winter.

Baba Marta

‘Granny March’ signifies the beginning of spring, and on 1 March Bulgarians present each other with red and white woollen tassels, known as martenitsi, as good-luck tokens. You'll notice them tied to tree branches throughout the spring.

Horizon Festival

A week-long festival (www.horizonfestival.net) of live music, DJ sets and hard partying (think hot tubs, flash mobs and daredevil skiing), in between snowboarding or skiing the mountains around Bansko.

March Days of Music Festival

One of Bulgaria's best classical music festivals, held in Ruse. Concerts take place over the last two weeks of the month (www.marchmusicdays.eu).

April

The weather begins to warm up in April, and what's left of the ski season officially ends. Depending on the year, Orthodox Easter celebrations usually take place during this month.

Orthodox Easter

Easter is the most important festival of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Throngs of churchgoers attend 11pm masses where incense hangs thick in the air. Egg fighting competitions sometimes take place outside. Special bread loaves and dyed eggs are prepared.

May

May is often showery and warm, and is a good time to visit the coast before crowds descend and prices rise. Some of the biggest festivals begin this month.

Re-enactment of the 1876 April Uprising

The momentous events surrounding the 1876 April Uprising are remembered by patriotic locals in Koprivshtitsa, who dress in period costume. It's held around 1 and 2 May.

Goat Milk Festival

A blend of traditional Balkan village culture, cutting-edge art and thought-provoking debate unfurls in mid-May at the Goat Milk Festival (www.novakultura.org/goat-milk) in Gorna Bela Rechka village, 55km north of Sofia.

Ruse City Celebrations

This yearly cultural festival in Ruse focusing on music, dancing and drama performances is held at various locations around town.

June

Summer is well under way, temperatures are rising and the tourist season on the coast begins. This is a great time for hiking, climbing and birdwatching.

Rose Festival

As the roses of surrounding valleys burst into flower, Kazanlâk and neighbouring villages bless visitors with rose water, sip rose liqueur and dance at street parades. The main event is held in Kazanlâk's main square on the first weekend in June.

Kapana Fest

Plovdiv's reinvigorated artistic quarter overflows with open-air performances and special exhibitions over this five-day festival in early June.

Varna Summer International Festival

Ramping up in June and lasting throughout the summer in Varna, this is one of the oldest and biggest festivals in Bulgaria, comprising music, theatre and other cultural events (www.varnasummerfest.org).

Meadows in the Mountains

Open your mind for this three-day alternative music and cultural extravaganza (www.meadowsinthemountains.com) in early to mid-June near Smolyan in the Rodopi Mountains.

Flower for Gosho

Rock and blues bands from all over Bulgaria come to Sofia's vast Yuzhen Park in early June for a high-decibel music festival held among the trees.

July

High temperatures are recorded across the country in July. Both Bulgarian and foreign tourists flock to the coastal resorts, while the cities bake.

Sand Sculpture Festival

Admire the fantastic sand sculptures created by visiting artists in Burgas. There's a different theme each year and the sculptures remain all summer.

August

Temperatures are at their highest in August, with long, hot sunny days, warm evenings and little or no rain. Music festivals are in full swing.

Spirit of Burgas Festival

A popular Black Sea music event, Spirit of Burgas brings in rock, hip-hop and experimental acts and DJs for a beach party in early August.

International Jazz Festival

Top jazz musicians from across Europe and beyond come to Bansko. Free concerts are held in the main square over a week in August (www.banskojazzfest.com).

September

Days are still hot in September, but begin to cool later in the month. A good time for birdwatching, as the Via Pontica migration begins.

Apollonia Arts Festival

A huge festival of music, drama and dance in seaside Sozopol, attracting big names over the first week of the month (www.apollonia.bg).

Plovdiv Night of the Galleries

Plovdiv's galleries open their doors for free on one Friday evening late in September, alongside performances and open-air film screenings around town (www.night.bg).

October

Cooler days across Bulgaria come in October, but temperatures are still pleasant. Harvest and cultural festivals take place around the country.

November

Winter approaches and temperatures drop. Expect rain and cold, shorter days. The pace of life slows down, but there's always something to see and do in the cities.

Young Wine Parade

Plovdiv celebrates the new wine vintage with parades, performances and opportunities to sample fresh local wines in the streets and houses of the old town (www.visitplovdiv.com).

December

Cold weather descends in December, with snowfall on higher ground. The skiing season begins, though conditions won't be at their best until the end of the month. Christmas services in Orthodox churches are truly atmospheric.