Have you heard of the Bulgarian jazz festival held on a mountain top? Or the opera festivals staged on the fortress in Veliko Tarnovo? Summer is the music festival season in Bulgaria when musical events in all genres are organized all over the country.
This stunning bagpipe contest takes place deep in the Rhodope Mountains, on the meadows above the tiny village of Gela. The musical masterpiece occurs every year on the first weekend of August. Tens of thousands of people gather to enjoy the sound of the Bulgarian bagpipe and the master skills of the best players in the country. A huge camp zone pops up on the mountain, with music and celebrations continuing until the sunrise.
Every year, around the middle of August, the meteor shower known as the Perseids can be spotted in the Bulgarian sky, when hundreds of shooting stars per hour can be observed. For the best viewing, be sure to head out of the cities where the lights and air pollution hinder the visibility of the night sky.
The whole eastern border of Bulgaria stretches out along the Black Sea coast. There are beaches for all kinds of vacationers here, from deserted wild coves to noisy party resorts. Sunny Beach is where the craziest parties take place, while the northern part of the coast is quieter and more suitable for families. History buffs will enjoy walking through the historic seaside towns of Sozopol and Nesebar, both featuring cozy old towns with traditional wooden houses and views to the sea.
You can choose a route through any of the national parks in Bulgaria full of glacial lakes, stunning waterfalls and raw, rugged beauty. The highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula, Musala Peak, is located in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, towering to an impressive 2,925 meters (9,596 feet). If you prefer easier hikes, you can follow a mellow forest walk.
The Seven Rila Lakes are a natural site in Bulgaria that should be on not-to-miss list whatever season you’re visiting. Summer, however, is the best time of year for inexperienced hikers to visit them because the weather conditions might be harsh in other seasons. If you are here in mid-August, you’ll be able to witness the special Paneurhythmy dance performed in big white circles by the followers of the Universal White Brotherhood, a new-age movement founded by the Bulgarian Peter Deunov.
Nestinarstvo is an ancient semi-pagan, semi-Christian ritual dedicated to the sun and to the saints Constantine and Helen. The ritual is performed every year in a small village in Southeastern Bulgaria. When the sun sets on June 3, the dancers, called nestinari, step into a circle of embers and dance in a trance-like condition.
For centuries, a small piece of the Bulgarian territory known as the Rose Valley has been producing some of the best-quality rose oil in the world. Visit the valley in June to join the annual Rose Festival with colorful processions and traditions and an opportunity to join the rose picking early in the morning.
July Morning, one of Bulgarians’ favorite contemporary summer rituals, is celebrated the first morning of July at the seaside. The peculiar celebration, whose roots are lost among legends and rumors in the communist era, attracts groups of friends from all over Bulgaria at the seaside on the evening of June 30. They play the guitars, sing and dance around bonfires until the morning, when they greet the sun as it pops above the horizon.