Culture

    Opera
There are a number of Opera Houses in Bulgaria, located in the bigger cities – Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Stara Zagora, Ruse and Pleven. Even though it’s not the most popular style of music, the interest in the cultural events is still high. There are many opera and ballet shows performed at the Sofia Opera, which is the oldest in Bulgaria (est. 1890). Also, some of the most famous world musicians are visiting the country often, so if you are interested in opera and ballet you should keep up with their calendar. You can enjoy a nice show.
Opera houses in Bulgaria combine the fascinating architectural style and the cultural atmosphere which cannot be seen anywhere else in the country. The opera houses in Sofia, Varna and Ruse are some the landmarks of the cities, so if you are visiting those places, don’t miss them. The prices are much cheaper compared to other European countries, which makes opera really affordable for many Bulgarians.
Here you can visit the official websites of the operas in Bulgaria:
Sofia Opera and ballet
Plovdiv state opera
Varna state opera and theatre
Burgas state opera
Stara Zagora state opera
Ruse state opera

    Cinema
As every other modern country, Bulgaria offers cinema services in almost every city. Some of the biggest movie theaters are Kino Arena and Cinemacity. There is no need to say that they are high-tech facilities and offer movie projections in 3D and IMAX 3D, which are state-of-the-art technology in the movie industry right now. Also, you can enjoy watching a nice movie in a Premium hall, equipped with the latest sound and visual effects technology. There is a Deluxe hall in some of the most visited cinemas in Bulgaria, which pretty much offer the RealD 3D experience. If you want more information about the services and different kinds of productions, you should visit the websites of the movie theaters.
It is good to know that most of the cinemas offer online ticket booking, and you need to show only the code upon entering the hall. Also, have in mind that, although most of the movies are with Bulgarian subtitles or audio, but sometimes during the summer season there are some movies in English or Russian.
    Theatre
Theatres are taking a big part of Bulgarian cultural life. Almost every little town has a theater house, where in the past people used to gather and enjoy a nice evening together watching an interesting play. Even though today this kind of activities are a little left behind, a lot of people are still very passionate. There are different kinds of theater – puppet theaters (kuklen teatur in Bulgarian), drama theaters and summer theaters in every big city. You can enjoy a nice play in every theater genre you like. Some of the biggest theaters in the country are located in the major cities, and below  is the list of them:
Ivan Vazov National Theatre - Sofia
Sofia Opera and ballet - Sofia
Theater “Salza & smyah” - Sofia
Drama Theater Plovdiv - Plovdiv
Varna state opera and theatre - Varna
Festival and congress center in Varna - Varna
Adriana Budevska Drama Theater Burgas - Burgas
Ruse state opera - Ruse
Usually the prices are quite reasonable, even for the bigger events, which makes theatre performances really affordable for foreigners and local people.
    Galleries
Bulgaria is very rich when it comes to variety of galleries and art saloons, which makes it very attractive to foreign art lovers. Here you can see the interlacing of modern and classical works from Bulgarian artists and sculptors. Usually, the art galleries across the country are very beautifully designed architecturally, so you will easily recognize them (but still, if you are interested in visiting one, it’s better to check them online beforehand). The prices are really low, compared to other countries and sometimes there is no entrance free, so visitors can enter for free and enjoy the beautiful works of art. Here is the list of some of the biggest art galleries in the country:
National Art Gallery - Sofia
Sofia City Art Gallery – Sofia
National Gallery of Foreign Art – Sofia
City Art Gallery – Plovdiv
Gallery Vazrazhdane – Old town – Plovdiv
Varna City Gallery – Varna
Petko Zadgorski Gallery – Burgas

v.    Cultural events and important holidays
As in any other Balkan country, the cultural events take a large part of the Bulgarian life. There are many holidays, which are always accompanied by some interesting (especially for foreigners) traditions and customs. Many of them are really important for Bulgarians, so it’s good to be aware of them.
Here are some of the most important events and holidays in Bulgaria:
January 6th – Yordanovden/Bogoyavlenie. This is the holiday when all people named after the Jordan River (Yordan in Bulgarian) are celebrating. The interesting part here is that on that day, men gather near rivers, lakes, dams or even the sea to compete for the holy cross which is tossed in the icy waters by the local priest. Whoever reaches the cross first, would be healthy during the whole year. Usually men do it not only as a competition, but for the tradition itself, despite the cold waters.
It is good to know that on that day in the town of Kalofer men also gather to do the famous Men’s horo. The unusual thing about this horo is that it’s danced in the cold waters of the Tundzha River. Usually many Bulgarians gather in Kalofer on that day from different parts of the country to witness the dance, since it’s one of the biggest Bulgarian traditions kept in time.
February 14th – Trifon Zarezan/St. Trifon’s day. That particular day is world famous as St. Valentine’s Day, but at the same time in Bulgaria there is another holiday celebrated. Trifon Zarezan is commonly associated with wine, since there is a tradition in Bulgaria according to which on that day winegrowers, gardeners and inn-keepers should trim the vineyards.
February – Todorovden (St. Theodor’s Day). There is no fixed date for this holiday, on which everyone named after St. Theodor celebrates. It is also known as the Horse Easter. The interesting part about this holiday is that people organize horse races in the countryside. In the past this was a really big day, since it was an occasion for the whole village to gather and watch the races together.
March 1st – Baba Marta. On that day, Bulgarians exchange white and red woolen bracelets called martinitsi. Usually, on that day you should bring a couple of them with you, since almost every Bulgarian you know will give you one (be sure about that). Apart from bracelets, Pizho and Penda characters are also very common. They symbolize a boy (Pizhno) and a girl (Penda). It is good to know that martenitsi are worn during the whole month of March, until you see a spring bird (usually a stork or a swallowtail) or a blossoming tree – then you can hang your martenitsa there. Many Bulgarians are making the martenitsas at home, which is not that hard – so if you want to know how to make them, ask a Bulgarian friend, they will show you with great pleasure.
The stories of where this tradition comes from are quite different, but some of the most famous ones say that the white color is the symbol of the melting snow and sign for the coming spring, while the red color is the symbol of the warming sun, which also reminds of the end of winter. Other very famous story is saying that late in the 7th century, the Bulgarian Knah Asparuh sent a message to his sister across the Danube about his victory over the Byzantine Empire. He tied his letter with a white string to the leg of his messenger eagle. The Byzantines saw the eagle flying and shot and injured it with an arrow. The message was delivered but the white string was stained red with the eagle's blood. The Bulgarians then started to wear this thread.

Peter Petrov

May 24th - Saints Cyril and Methodius' Day / National Day of Culture and Slavonic Alphabet. This is one of the biggest holidays in Bulgaria. It is celebrated in honor of the Saints Cyril and Methodius – the creators of the Slavonic alphabet Also, it is known as the national day of culture. Actually, it is one of the most publicly celebrated holiday in the year, with a lot of parades (or as called in Bulgarian manifestatsii) of the schools, universities and other public bodies related to education and culture. It is considered as one the brightest holidays, so don’t be surprised to see every town in the country crowded with people in any weather.
Kukeri – This is actually not quite a holiday, it’s a folk costume festival which is very popular in certain Bulgarian regions. The tradition is that men dress up in big, scary costumes to chase away the evil spirits. They are most popular in Western Bulgaria, especially in Pernik, Smolyan and Razlog. Usually men and even young boys make their costumes months before the festival as the making takes some time. The costume itself should be really scary (not like those for Halloween), since very often they are big, hairy, with horns and many bells. The festivals are held in January and February, depending on the town and usually the celebrations are quite big – there are people from all around the country, there are dances, music and of course, a lot of Bulgarian food (mainly kebapcheta). If you are planning to celebrate New Year’s in Bulgaria our advice is to visit a kukeri show – it’s worth it.











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