Day of the traditional meze from the Rhodope mountains
Bulgarian meze means a bite of food, normally meat, salami, different types of cheese, pate and vegetables. There are quite various food festivals in Bulgaria, but the Traditional meze fest in Shiroka laka is one of the most authentic and delicious ones. And it’s not only the tasty food, but the ingredients who are all taken from local farms and produced in a very traditional, old style.
You can join the festival on the first Saturday of the month of February. It takes place on the square of the village of Shiroka laka. This is where local “meze chefs” put their meze tables. Different types of salami & sausages are presented – porc & veal, porc & beef, flavoured with herbs from the mountains. Exotic labels say: lamb sazdarma, lukanka, bahur, sudzhuk, karvavitsa – all are typical local salami names. Local sheep and calf breeders prepare delicious chunks of white cheese, yellow cheese, brace, fresh cheese. Lard is also honorably presented in various mouthwatering ways – fried, spiced with red pepper, chilly, pane, etc.
The festival is actually a contest between the participants. The guests have the role to taste and vote for the best “meze chef”. The chef who got the most of the votes, wins the contest and it is pronounced for a “Best meze chef of the year”. The Traditional meze festival is a beautiful event of gathering people together for a day of laughter, chat, home made natural wine, and most of all, bit after bite of delectable Bulgarian food.
Kukeri festival “Pesponedelnik”
This is the typical Bulgarian “monsters” event that takes place every year in many villages and towns in the country. Kukeri festival in Shiroka laka is held every first Sunday of the month March. It is called Pesponedelnik and it basically means “chasing devils”.
Kukeri is a centuries-old Bulgarian tradition where men and boys transform themselves into ugly and disgusting monsters using furs, animal skins, and scary face masks. The kukeri beasts rank in a row on the main square of the village and jump producing unimaginable noise with the huge bells hooked up to their waists. Besides scaring the evil, Kukeri participants also act out different rituals as wedding, mowing, harvesting, and others with the purpose to call for health and fruitiness. Feel the Kukeri atmosphere with this video taken in Shiroka laka.
Outdoor back-pipe festival in the village of Gela
Back-pipe folklore music, dating centuries ago in the Rhodope mountains, can be admired by the public during the “Outdoor back-pipe festival”, every first weekend of August, at the meadows of the village of Gela, 6 km away from Shiroka laka.
The roots of the back-pipe tradition come from the Ancient times. Generation after generation talented boys were captivated by the magic sound of the back-pipe. Their successful performances throughout Bulgaria and the whole world, year after year, indicated a great interest in Rhodope folklore and traditions. Thus started the initiative for the “Outdoor back-pipe festival in Gela” in the month of August. Read more about the fest and program here.