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Have you started planning your first trip to Romania but don’t know when to go? With four seasons and a myriad of celebrations and events happening all year long, we have to say that choosing may not be very easy. However, each season is different, and both the landscapes and the related activities vary. Here are some of the very best things that each season offers, from autumn to summer, from winter sports to summer festivals.
Autumn is the season of spectacular landscapes coloured in green, yellow and red. It is a perfect time for those who want to capture nature’s metamorphosis at its best. The season of colours is also the period of harvest, and in Transylvania, there is a whole celebration around the crop’s gathering. In the village of Sancraiu, Cluj County, October is the month of the Grape Harvest Festival, a decades-old event, and the Rose Hip Festival, celebrating a plant that grows in the area of Sancraiu and is used in tea and delicious jam. Both festivals feature a ball in the village, folk music, dances and local traditions. And what can be better than eating traditional food and meeting the locals during the day and partying with them by night?
Autumn is also the end of the pastoral year. In September, several festivities take place to mark the shepherd’s return in the villages. In the Sibiu area, around September 19th, a shepherd’s reunion and a sheep fair occur and feature fresh, homemade cheese and wine tastings, folk music and an exhibit of animals. If you want to discover the authentic Romania, this is one event not to miss.
Winter is the season of snow, mulled wine, Christmas traditions and national celebrations. If you think about coming to Romania on its very first day of winter, don’t be surprised to see the national flag everywhere; December 1st is Romania’s National Day. The historic event is celebrated with military parades, concerts and fireworks.
December is also the month of gifts, Christmas traditions and Christmas markets. In Romania, there is a certain rivalry regarding ‘The Most Beautiful Christmas Market’, and the ones in Cluj and Sibiu are in close competition. Visit them both and pick your favourite.
On December 24th and 25th, young people go to houses belonging to family, friends and strangers and sing Christmas carols. In return, they receive homemade cookies, fruit or money. Between Christmas and New Year, goat or bear dances are very popular, especially in the villages, where the whole community gathers to see the traditional ritual performed. If you want to experience a veracious Romanian Christmas, the best regions to go to are Maramures and Bucovina, in the northern part of the country.
Once the festive season is over, the winter sports season starts. One of the most popular places to ski is Poiana Brasov, a winter resort that allures ski and snowboard enthusiasts from all over the world. You can spend your whole day on the 23-kilometre-long (14 miles) slope and your evening in the merry bars drinking mulled wine.
In Romania, spring starts with a century-old tradition: Martisor. On March 1st, the women receive a red and white string with hanging tassels. They wear it pinned to their clothes, on the left side, placed close to the heart, but nowadays, many people also wear it like a bracelet. Before the month starts, fairs with local artisans selling handmade Martisor are running all over the country.
Spring is also the season of Easter, and in Romania, egg decoration has developed into a remarkable artistry. In the region of Bucovina, the National Easter Eggs Festival is both an international competition and a showcase of local traditions, taking place in the village of Ciocanesti. The beauty of the village and the simplicity of the people’s lifestyle is mesmerising.
The revival of nature is not only marked by traditional celebrations but also by the birds’ migration towards the Danube Delta, a paradise for birdwatchers. Approximately 350 bird species find their home in the Danube Delta and become subjects for astounding photography. While spring is the best season to visit the delta if you want to avoid mosquitos, you will find the ‘local stars’ from April to late August, showing off on the delta’s rivers and channels.
For the bike lovers, a cyclist tour takes place at the end of May in Transylvania. The location is different every year, but the spirit of the event remains the same: two days of riding, exploring and enjoying the picturesque landscapes.
Whether you want to enjoy the sunny weather or be part of Romania’s thrilling music events, summer is the season to visit. There are medieval festivals such as Transylvanian Citadels Festival; the biggest film festival in Romania, Transylvania International Film Festival; the 2015 Best Major European Festival, UNTOLD Festival; and theatre festivals such as Bucharest Street Theatre Festival. And the list goes on and on. If there is something that Romanians know how to do, it is to party until the morning, so if you want to have the time of your life, then book your tickets for one of Romania’s awe-inspiring events.
If you are more the ‘lay on the sand all day long’ type, then you should head directly to the Black Sea, to Vama Veche, for relaxed days and evenings with folk music. Don’t miss the sunrise on the beach.
If you still haven’t decided when to go to Romania, maybe you should think about going there every season and enjoying all that the country has to offer.