Incredible pictures have been released from this year’s Surva International Festival of Masquerade Games in Pernik, Bulgaria that highlight the vibrant energy and sense of community spirit of the traditional event.
The two-day event was held last weekend, and is the oldest festival of its kind in Bulgaria, dating back to the winter of 1966. It is also the largest in scale throughout the Balkan Islands, and is included in UNESCO’s list of protected non-material cultural heritages. The festival promotes variations of ancient Bulgarian customs that are still alive today, as well as celebrating folklore tradition and performances. The event saw approximately 6000 people from different regions of the country taking part. Crowds gathered to watch a parade of Kukeri, people dressed in colourful masks and folk outfits designed to scare off evil spirits. It also included Survakari dancers, as well as light shows and bonfires.
In June 2009, Pernik was proclaimed as the European capital of Mummers, and each year The International Festival of the Masquerade attracts visitors from countries all over the world who gather watch or take part in the energetic street performances. People often touch the masks for good luck and to promote health and rejuvenation for the New Year.
The festival included a range of food and drink options, as well as unique ornaments and souvenirs available for visitors to pick up as mementos. An array of diverse parade outfits were on display, including multi-coloured masks with floral crowns, animal horned head dresses and bulky, fur covered suits.
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