About Kurentovanje Festival
Kurentovanje is a prominent carnival celebration in Ptuj, Slovenia featuring outrageous costumes, parades and dancing by ethnic groups from around the world. Held in February each year, the festival celebrates fertility and the coming of spring. The festival begins at exactly midnight on February 2nd and what follows is eight days of exciting performances in the town square, parade processions, and traditional ceremonies to welcome the new agricultural season. Most events at the festival are free to attend and they attract over 100,000 people each year.
Kurentovanje Festival History
Kurentovanje is likely connected to centuries-old Slovene mythology and traditions, when locals would go to great ceremonial lengths to usher out the cold and bitter winters. The first organized carnival was planned in 1960 by cultural historian Drago Hasi to preserve traditional customs he feared were disappearing in a rapidly modernizing world. During the festival, the mayor of the town steps down while the crowned Prince of Kurentovanje symbolically takes over.
During Kurentovanje, you’ll notice hundreds of people dressed in heavy sheepskin with large (and very loud!) bells worn around their waist and neck. These are locals taking on the role of traditional figures called Kurents, and the clanging of their bells is meant to “chase away the winter.” Traditionally, only unmarried men could dress as Kurents, but today married men, women, children and even animals are allowed to participate.
Throughout the festival, Kurents wander the streets of the town, going from house to house to ring their bells and accept gifts. Girls and women give the Kurents handkerchiefs that they tie around a large club and carry with them. The Kurent with the most handkerchiefs at the end of the festival is said to be the most popular with women!
The carnival parade on Shrove Sunday and the preceding Saturday are the most popular events of the festival. Over 1,500 people participate in the Saturday parade and over 9,000 in Saturday’s procession, including around 800 Kurents.
Traditionally, the procession was led by Kurents and people dressed in traditional Slovenian garb, dancing along to the music of a local band. Today, the event has become internationally renowned and people in traditional costumes from ethic groups all over central Europe and the world participate in the procession, some from as far away as Japan!
The carnival is closely linked to artistic creation, and every year it gives local and international artists a chance to showcase their incredible work. The best works are awarded and exhibited in the Ptjuj town hall. The focus is on art that draws on ethnographic traditions and carnival culture, but people from all walks of life can appreciate the beauty in these artists’ creations.
KarnevalFest is the annual mask competition at Kurentovanje, where awards are given to the most imaginative masks at the festival. The contest focuses on contemporary masks, which are a reflection of popular culture, political events and local society – and each year the designs get bigger and more elaborate! One of the most popular events at the festival, people come from all over to catch a glimpse of each year’s colorful and exotic entries.
“Burial” of the Carnival
The end of the festival is commemorated by the traditional “burial” ceremony, representing the death of winter and the birth of spring. The festival officially finishes when the mayor of the town is re-instated, thus ending that year’s Kurentovanje.
Kurentovanje Festival in Ptuj Youtube/Video
Kurentovanje Festival in Ptuj Dates
- Kurentovanje Festival in Ptuj 2016: Feb.02-09