Festival of folklore in Koprivshtitsa: a system of practices for heritage presentation and transmission

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Selected in 2016 on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

© 2013 by Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria

The concept for the Festival of Folklore in Koprivshtitsa, where thousands of Bulgarians of all ages and the diaspora meet in August to present and share their intangible cultural heritage practices ranging from dance and storytelling, to games and craftsmanship, originated when local musicians saw a need to protect traditions endangered by factors such as urbanization and commodification. Hosted by the Koprivshtitsa municipality with assistance from the Ministry of Culture, Bulgarian National Television, Bulgarian National Radio, the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Ethnographic Museum, the Institute for Art Studies and community centres, the festival raises awareness about the importance of safeguarding living heritage and promotes its presence in people’s lives, documents it for future continuity and stimulates transmission. Performers are nominated through selection procedures organized by Bulgaria’s administrative districts where new traditions are also identified, then performances broadcasted and documented by scholars for archival records such as those at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Ethnographic Museum. Since the first festival in 1965, nine editions have taken place with 18,000 performers participating in 2010, attracting visitors from throughout the country and abroad. Many festival performers go on to become known internationally.

Koprivshtitsa typical houses built during the 18th and 19th centuries. Today they are part of cultural and historical reserve
Traditional rituals: 'Koleduvane' - carol singing for Christmas and New Year
Traditional singing: Rhodope region
Traditional singing: Thrace region
Traditional rituals: 'Zasevki' - sieving flour for the wedding breads
Guest and bearers of the tradition next to the stage
Traditional dancing (horo): Thrace region
Traditional playing: fiddles and lutes
Traditional rituals: swings for St. George's Day
Traditional dancing: participants and guest dancing together at the end of the Festival