History · Music · Traditions

Rozhen National Folklore Fair

Rozhen National Folklore Fair is an event connected to Bulgarian folklore, held in the Rozhen area close to Smolyan in the mountains of Rhodope, in the south of Bulgaria. Bulgaria has plenty of folklore events but the one in the meadows of Rozhen is definitely the biggest event of the summer. No matter you are in Bulgaria, what your interests are and what kind of music you are listening to- the folk music and dances bring everyone together. The Bulgaria folk music and dances plays a big role in the Bulgarian culture. If you don´t know the dances, don´t worry, the Bulgairan´s are more then happy to teach you the steps and rhythms. 

The History of Rozhen Folklore Fair 

The first fair was held in 1898, in a time when Bulgaria was still a part of the Ottoman Empire. The north and central part of modern Bulgaria had already gone through a process of liberation from the Ottoman Empire, however the south was still part of this Empire. This yearly folklore fair in Rozhen was a perfect opportunity for friends and family´s to meet over the boarders between the two countries on the mountain peak. At the year of 1912 the south of Bulgaria was also liberated from the Ottoman Empire, and the fair lost its political importance. However the fair remained a symbol of freedom, traditions and the unity of Bulgaria. The focus was on music and dances from the Rhodope region, but as it grow bigger and more people participated more music and dances from all over Bulgaria was welcomed. Until modern days the festival had its peak in 1972 when 150 000 people came to take part of the event where 3500 musicians and dancers performed. Last year the festival got bigger then ever.

The Festival of Rozhen

Traditionally the festival is being opened with the song Bela Sam Bela Yunache which is the unofficial anthem of the Rhodope regions. On the first night many artists are performing famous songs from the mountains of Rhodope. The following two days are being filled with music and horo (folk dance), and BBQ.

Rozhen National Folklore Fair 2016

This year 100, 000 people came to visit the festival. The festival took a break between the years of 2006-2014, but made a strong come back in 2015, with such a success and many visitors they decided to hold the festival the year after again.  This year started with a silent minute in memory of the victims of Nice, France, that happened one day before the festival started. Between the 15-18 July the audience could witnesses 5000 performers, 207 community groups that have preserved traditions, customs and spiritual values of Bulgarian culture. Kids as well as pensioners were performing songs and dances.

The festival are being arranged by a non-profit organisation called Rozhen- Heritage in the Future. The singer, Valja Balkanska, that so many times have opened up festival of Rozhen says she is a bit disappointed. The reason? She says the festival suffers from too much commercial. She is not afraid to speak about her disappointment and she says if the organizers plan the next years festival the way it was this year she will not open the festival as she usually does. Valja Balkanska is not just heard in Bulgaria but also in space. Izlel Ye Delyo Haydutin is the name of the song that she recorded in 1977 for the project of Voyager Golden Records on board on Voyager 1 that was sent out to space to explore planets in the solar system. The Voyager Golden Recorded contain photos and music from different cultures of our world in case there would be intelligent life that would found this record.



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