The annual Bulgarian rose festival started on 6th June in Kazanlak. Held always during the first weekend of June, it will continue until Sunday, June 8. Although officially the festival is 3 days long, a programme of various exhibitions, ceremonies, tournaments and performances are scheduled for the whole week before.
The festival was held for a first time in Kazanlak in 1903. It usually coincides with the end (or often with the peak) of spring harvest of roses. Dedicated to the aromatic blossom, the event honours the incredible fame which the Kazanlak rose (Rosa damascena) brought to the town and the whole country. The extracted rose oil and its derivatives has for long been used in the perfume industry and in the production of soaps, lotions and creams, liqueurs, jams, etc. The rose water also gained incredible popularity for its wide range of applications.
Only a few years after the first festival, a similar event dedicated to the Rosa damscena was held in Karlovo. Throughout the years the popularity and fame of Bulgarian rose oil increased to an international level. Eventually, due to the world’s recognition, in 1967 the festival became national. Nowadays, similar events are held at almost all towns in the “Rose Valley”.
In Kazanlak, a large number of social and cultural events open to public are always scheduled throughout the whole week, most of which are free-of-charge. The programme includes various exhibitions, award ceremonies, tournaments and competitions of all types. Bazaars and even conferences regarding the problems and perspectives of the local rose oil producers are held as well as public discussions about the economical and cultural development of the towns in the area.
A beauty pageant to select a Rose Queen is also held. Officially, the festival is solemnly opened on Friday evening with a artistic crowning ceremony of the Rose Queen. Bulgaria’s most popular ethno-choreographer Neshka Robeva and her ensemble and “Angel Sky” group will take part in the show this year. Various events are held the next day, one of which every year is the “Rose picking and rose-distilling” ritual. The festival ends on Sunday with a vivid carnival procession through the main streets of Kazanlak at noontime and a concert in the evening.