The ethereal beauty of the largest and capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, is evident in its 2000 years of heterogeneous Ottoman, Soviet, Roman and Greek history. Its extravagant history and gigantic magnitude add to the beauty and style of this glorious city, lying right in the center of the Balkan Peninsula, forming a junction bang in the center where the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea meet.
It is home to several universities, commercial complexes, cultural institutions, governmental bodies and historical monuments. As a result, it has been considered one of the best cities to visit for a culture trip. The history and culture of this place can be best witnessed during the celebration of various Sofia Festivals.
9 Popular Sofia Festivals
Sofia is the hotspot for all cultural and artistic activities in the entire country. Theatre, being a popular form of art, cinemas and theatrical venues are often filled to the brim with enthusiasts. It’s also host to several important museums such as the National History Museum, National Archaeological Museum, Polytechnical Museum, and so on. Annually, there are various festivals organized o promote the sense and spirit of community and harmony. Given below is a list of festivals celebrated every year in Sofia that you should visit to acquaint yourself with its culture.
1. Sofia Middle East and North African Region Film Festival
Scheduled to take place from the 15th to 29th of January, this 2-week long film festival serves the purpose of promoting and introducing the Bulgarian populace to the traditions and films of the Islamic worlds. Last year it screened the Oscar-nominated film ‘The Insult’ which received much acclaim and favor among the audience.
This year’s festival also promises a diverse and captivating line – up of films from various countries in the middle – east and the northern parts of the African continent. It takes place at several different venues. Visit their site or their Facebook page for more information.
2. Sofia Science Festival
Organized by the British Council, THE Sofia Science Festival will take place from 9th to 12th May in 2019 at the Sofia Tech Park, a business park in the capital city. First organized in 2011, the number of visitors that flock to the business park to engage more actively with the mysteries of the world and the environment that surrounds us. It has events and activities that cater to people of all the different age groups. There are paid as well as free events, you can log on to their site in case you are interested in buying any.
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3. Flamenco Music Ole Festival
The ¡Olé! Festival is a music festival celebrated every year to promote Spanish and Latin American music. In 2018 the acts featured were Antonio Serrano and Antonio Sanchez, Maria Toro and Quentin Gas and Los Zingaros. Each of these acts took place over the course of three days, each of which was set a week apart from one another.
It usually takes place in the month of October. Although the schedule hasn’t been made public for 2019, do keep visiting their site for more updates since this festival has been becoming more popular as the years pass by drawing in larger crowds. The festival also screens documentaries about flamenco and other styles of Latin music.
4. Kvartal Festival
Volume 4 of KvARTal Festival is scheduled to be held in the month of September, for a couple of days, between the boulevards of Dondukov, Maria Luisa, Slivnitsa and Vasil Levski, in the heart of the city of Sofia. Although the exact dates haven’t been revealed yet, do keep visiting their site to be up to date with developments.
The festival completely transforms the face of old town Sofia shedding light o the richness of art, architecture and culture of Sofia. There are several art installations showcased by local, national as well as international artists. The festival also organizes workshops, lectures, performances as well as bar tours, wine tastings, musical concerts and gourmet delights.
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5. Sofia Biting Docs
Featuring films that deal with polemical issues such as environmental consciousness, cultural diversity, human rights, discrimination, integration, and so on, the Sofia Biting Docs is a festival showcasing a diverse range of documentaries from all around the world by both, professional as well as amateur filmmakers who are eager to share a slice of their part of the world with the rest of it.
It’s a perfect festival for all the cinephiles that are eager to get a taste of quirky, offbeat or alternative cinema that focuses on eccentric individuals, fascinating cultures and most importantly a novel point of view that offers a perspective that dissents strongly from mainstream cinema. It usually takes place in the first week of October in selected cinemas.
6. Sofia Pride Art Week
Sofia pride is celebrated o the 27th of June, as a result the Sofia Pride Art Week is celebrated in the last week of June. There are several venues where the festival is organized like the Red House Center for Culture and Debate, Bar Essence, and other such exhibition centers. It features artwork by both, amateur as well as professional artists. It is known prominently for its photography exhibitions that deal with LGBT themes as well as other issues that people belonging to these groups face and at times it even offers a personal and intimate glimpse into the lives of the subjects of these photographs.
Submissions related to other fine arts are also accepted. The artists submitting their work usually belong to the LGBT community and so you too could submit your work if you happen to be in Sofia at the time and are a part of the LGBT community. The submissions are provided without any charges. The festival has featured works by noted artists such as Baden Sumers, Maria Cannes, Percy Katt, and so on. It’s a great event to get yourself acquainted with alternative themes, subjects and have discussions with fellow attendees in the workshops and lectures that are organized.
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7. Natura Naturans
This ongoing festival will last for around 2 and half months at 9, Kuzman Shapkarev Street at various Sofia art galleries. Having begun on the 19th of December, 2018 Natura Naturans or The Nature of Art will go on till the 2nd of February, 2019.
Curated by Maria Vassileva, it will showcase the contemporary works of renowned artist like Jorinde Voigt, Florian Meisenberg, Olaf Nicolai, Norbert Bisky, Alicja Kwade, Michael Sailstorfer and Annette Kelm. By giving a platform to various perspectives, the exhibition of these artworks attempts to examine the theme of nature which has its roots in German science, philosophy and literature.
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8. 23rd Sofia International Film Festival
The 23rd annual Sofia International Film Festival is going to be held from the 7th to the 17th of March in 2019 at various theatres, including the Cinema House. The Cinema House is one of the most significant cultural and cinematic venues in Sofia, there couldn’t have been a better place to host the Sofia Film Festival and there is no other theatre in the country that offers a better viewing experience than the Cinema House located in the heart of the city. One of the most important film festivals in Europe, it has been included in Variety’s “Top 50 Cinema Festivals”.
In the past, it has featured films by acclaimed filmmakers such as Wim Wenders, Aki Kaurismaki, Jafar Panahi, Peter Greenaway, Terry Jones, Emir Kusturica, Krzysztof Zanussi, and so on. Many prominent directors first found acclaim at this festival. It features some of the most subversive films made in the entire world and is the perfect festival for lovers of alternative cinema.
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9. Sofia Restaurant Week
Just as the name suggests, this festival lasts a week long, usually in the 2nd or 3rd week of September. Although the schedule and restaurants for this year haven’t been revealed yet, you can keep visiting their website for updates. It includes a 3-course meal through 29 restaurants in Sofia for the price of 29 leva, excluding drinks. These restaurants not only offer great food that reflects the diversity of Sofia flavours but also have a genial atmosphere, exquisite décor and impeccable service.
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Festivals celebrating the rich well of culture in Sofia, every year, can prove to be one hell of a blast if you choose to spend your time in the capital city experiencing them, leaving you with some memories you will treasure for the rest of your life. So plan a trip to Europe around these dates and head to Sofia in Bulgaria, to experience these festivals.
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