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International Festival of Masquerade Games

If you want to get involved in the mysterious world of ancient cults and rituals you should visit 'Surva Masquerade', where you will get amused by the wild dancing or the funny theatre of men and children masked as scary animals or unknown beasts.

Pernik is a town located about 30 km from Sofia. Since 1966 the International Festival of Masquerade Games 'Surva' is held there every year in the end of January. This year’ festival 15th edition will begin on January 29th and will continue until January 31st. The participants are more than 6000 people from more than 70 countries. The masquerade is the biggest event of this type on the Balkans. It gathers not only Bulgarians with their traditional costumes but also participants from other European countries, as well as some representatives of Africa and Asia. The visitors will have the chance to watch the performance of about 100 folklore groups. The masked people are mainly the so called 'Kukeri', participants are also 'Kukove', 'Survakari', 'Startsi', 'Babugeri', 'Dzhamailari', 'Kamilari'. They are believed to be related to an ancient Thracian cult saved in the people’s memory and tradition throughout the centuries.

Struggling for the prize best costume the participants make grate show with their rituals, consisting of dances, etudes and various games. The costumes cover most of the body and include bells and decorated wooden masks of animals. Dressed in this way with the help of the bells sound 'Kukeri' are supposed to scare away the evil spirits. It’s also believed that they provide good harvest, health and happiness throughout the year.

The tour will give you the opportunity to become part of spectacular rituals in which performers but also viewer are important. Beside this you will have the chance not only to admire traditional Bulgarian arts and crafts but also to get yourselves one-of-a-kind souvenir from the various gift shops.