Surva festival – experience Bulgarian folklore and traditions


Surva is the biggest International Festival of Masquerade Games on the Balkans. It takes place on the last weekend of January in Pernik, Bulgaria annually. Save the date 26-28 January 2024 and indulge yourself in Bulgarian folklore and traditions. Surva promotes ancient Bulgarian customs that are still alive today. They are an important part of the Bulgarian folklore tradition.

On the photo above you see the group from Domlyan. It participates in other international festivals in Europe as well. The bells are called ‘hlopki’ and they are passed from generation to generation. And there is a special connection between the kuker and his/her hlopki. The hlopki are considered part of the kuker’s kin and participants cherish them deeply. Some of the hlopki weigh a few kilos and it is definitely not easy to jump with them.


Surva festival during the years

Today the town of Pernik has a population of 93 000 people. The oldest traces of human existence in the area date back to the 6th millennium BC. Historians estimate that Pernik was founded roughly at the same time as Troy.

The festival was organized for the first time in 1966 and since 1985 it has been an international event. The participants are called Kukeri and Survakari. It takes a few months to prepare the masks and costumes and each group is authentic in its own way.


Bulgarians believe that the scary masks and costumes will shoo away the evil powers. As this is the coldest time in the winter season, local rakia and red wine help cheer up the participants. Participants come for the emotion, the positive vibes, to share the magic of Surva, and to wish each other health and good luck.


Bulgarian masquerade games are common during the holidays between Christmas and Easter. Join our one-day tour and feel the magic of Surva festival. More information at

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© Photo credit: Toni Todorov. Thank you! Благодаря!

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