International Festival of Masquerade Games “Surva”

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Surva, the International Festival of the Masquerade Games held in the town of Pernik. These is an important part of the Bulgarian folklore tradition and it’s 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. Its most attractive feature is its two-day parade for masquerade companies from Bulgaria and abroad.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.
The participants in this ritual are called kukeri and they are dressed-up men in handmade costumes and masks, all made of wood, leather, fur and copper and bronze bells hang off them. They dance, play games, make jokes, jump, jingle the bells and roll on the floor. Some of the masks the kukeri wear has two faces: on one of the sides the face is good-humoured, whilst on the other, it is grim and sinister looking. This represents how the good and the bad inevitably coexist in this world. The outcome of these dances and games are that the evil spirits that the winter had brought have been chased away and only good is to be expected from now on.