Surva Carnival at Pernik – Pernik, Bulgaria - Atlas Obscura

Surva Carnival at Pernik

Founded in the 4th-century, the town of Pernik plays host to the Surva Carnival⁠—a magnificent display of masked Kukeri dancers. 


The  International Festival of Masquerade Games, also known as Surva, is an annual event where dancers called Kukeri adorn colorful masks, traditional dress, and scary costumes. The event has its roots in traditions practiced by the Thracians who once inhabited the area.

Meant to drive out evil spirits and encourage a good harvest, the fearsome Kukeri dancers can actually be seen in villages across Bulgaria. However, to witness the largest of example these dancers, Pernik is the place to go.

Know Before You Go

The town of Pernik sits just over 18 miles south of Sofia. The town contains ancient ruins and a plethora of museums. However, the best time to visit is in January during the Surva Carnival.

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