Surva, the International Festival of the Masquerade Games held in the town of Pernik is the biggest event of this type not only in Bulgaria but on the Balkan Peninsula as well. It promotes variations of ancient Bulgarian customs that are still alive today. These are an important part of the Bulgarian folklore tradition and are meant to be performed by single men and women. With its competitive nature, the festival is not only a venue but also a contest for the living vessels of this tradition, namely the Kukeri and Survakari.
The Municipality of Pernik has been holding the festival ever since 1966. In 1985 the festival gained international-event status. In 1995 the International Federation of Carnival Cities accepted the town of Pernik as its full member. In June 2009 Pernik was proclaimed as the European capital of Surva`s and Mummers.
The International Festival of the Masked games takes place on the last weekend of January. Its most attractive feature is its two-day parade for masquerade companies from Bulgaria and abroad.
On average, around 6, 000 people or about 100 groups from every folklore region of Bulgaria, as well as companies from Europe, Asia, and Africa take part in the contest.
The contestants come here to win, to experience the atmosphere, to have fun and, of course, to get the recognition that they have been a part of it all.
The citizens of Pernik and visitors from other parts of Bulgaria and abroad come to watch the show so they can be part of the magic. They want to see the masks in person, they want to touch them for good luck and good health and feel rejuvenated and energized when they leave.
You will be touched by the magic of the masquerade tradition that still survives in the region of Pernik. Everything here is for real!
You will surrender to the appeal of Bulgarian folklore reinforced with healthy helpings of food and drinks. You will feel the creative presence of generations of exponents of the tradition.
An incandescent fiery spectacle, bonfires and light shows will envelop you in the festival’s mystery.
For two whole days, groups from the country and abroad will show you their unique traditions, masks, and costumes in the town square and the streets of Pernik.
Visiting groups from Europe and the rest of the world will present a colorful multitude of customs, songs, and dances.
The participants and the audience can interact freely along the parade routes and on the improvised stages arranged throughout the town.
Interesting outdoor exhibitions will be arranged at various places in Pernik.