We’ve only been back in Smolyan for a few days and already we are traveling up a storm! On Saturday we drove out to our village house to pick up some potatoes and bottled goods and see how the property fared over the winter (it was looking good and there wasn’t even a hint of snow left!) We then went to visit family (our adorable 14-month-old grand-nephew, Konstantin) nearby before taking a longer route back to Smolyan.
Sunday we went to the 2013 Pesponedelnik Festival in the village of Shiroka Laka. We went last year as well and knew that we had to try and make it back this year because we enjoyed it so much. I’ve said it before, but I absolutely adore Shiroka Laka. This little village is beyond charming on an ordinary day; add a lively festival with Kukeri’s, unique shopping, and yummy food and I am there!
The festival was a lot busier this year. We had to park up the road a bit and walk about 15 minutes into the village, but with lovely views of the river and centuries-old bridges, it was great. It was a beautifully sunny and warm day; perfect for spending some time outside listening to traditional Bulgarian tunes and smelling the aroma of sizzling meats and veggies. We watched three different Kukeri groups line up and perform before we hit up the food stands. I even saw my favorite old “wheat lady” from last year! I definitely prefer Shiroka Laka’s event over Pernik’s. Both are interesting and fun, but Shiroka Laka is just a more charming and traditional venue with more audience participation (the horo broke out in the crowd this year just as it did last year).
In addition to the Kukeri performers, the festival also features many different stalls with food, gifts, games, and even some little kiddie rides–a mini carnival of sorts! Vince saw me eyeing the same handmade Kukeri dolls that I had wanted to buy last year and asked if I wanted one. Needless to say, when my very frugal husband opens up the door to some shopping, I take advantage! The little guy is going to look awesome on our future travel-themed bookcase with all our treasures and trinkets. Vince bought some candy to take home to his parents. It looked like some form of Turkish Delight (not my thing!). We shared a dyuner kebab and then an order of fresh, hot-out-of-the-fryer donuts covered in raspberry sauce. Devouring an order of delicious donuts has become a tradition for us at Kukeri festivals! We simply can’t resist!
Here’s a short video Vince shot of a group performing in front of the judges and town administration. Having a tall husband who can take photos and videos over the crowd is a must for these types of events!
If you live in Bulgaria and have never been to a Kukeri festival, you are missing out! They are unlike anything I have ever experienced in any other country. I can’t wait to attend more in the future!
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