Macedonia Festivals


Showcasing a multifarious blend of bands and musicians from a number of musical genres, Taksirat Festival is a beacon of musical diversity that prides itself on being an international and universal music event. With thousands of revellers cramming into packed arenas, this event is Macedonia’s equivalent of Glastonbury or T in the Park, and past performers have included The Kaiser Chiefs and Iggy Pop. Taking place in Skopje, Macedonia’s vibrant capital, the festival is easily accessible from the city and guests can stay in its number of hotels and hostels. With food and drink stalls dotted all around the site, as well as a side programme of workshops, theater performances, films and discussion groups, visitors can spend days enjoying all the festival has to offer. Taskirat takes place at the end of November every year and stretches over a one week period, so guests can attend for one day, or choose to stay for the whole event.


Place: Ohrid

Takes place in: July

Member of the UNESCO Association of The International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art, and The International Organization for Folklore Art. This festival has so far presented numerous original songs and dances from folk culture for more than 30 years. About 1,200 ensembles with 42,000 members have taken part in the festival.

“The Balkan Festival of folk songs and dances” is an international folklore event established in 1962. Its original title was “The Ohrid Festival of Amateur Folk Songs and Folk Bands”. The ceremonial opening took place 20th July 1962 in the town’s square. In 1967 the Festival was restructured and ever since it has been hosting vocal and instrumental bands and solo singers presenting their authentic folk creations and traditional culture through horas, songs, rites, traditional clothes, local costumes, traditional musical instruments, and handicrafts. For more than twenty years “The Balkan Festival of Folk Songs and Dances” has been a member of the UNESCO Associations of CIOFF (The International Council of the Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folklore Art), and IOFA (The International Organization for Folklore Art. Traditionally, the Festival takes place in the beginning of July.

Countries from the Balkans and neighbouring countries take part in the Festival. In the 36 years of its existence, it has hosted about 40,000 folk singers, dancers and instrumentalists from Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, FR Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, as well as from France, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Moldavia, Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Australia, USA, Canada, Malesia, and others. Part of the Festival focuses on displaying exhibitions. In recent years the Folklore Institute “Marko Cepenkov” from Skopje organizes seminars on Balkan folklore.


Street festivals are an annually recurring event in many countries and since 2006 Macedonia became the first one on the Balkans. BUSKERFEST is the first Macedonian international and multicultural street festival recognized as the largest event of its kinds in the region. The debut of the Buskerfest happened in 2006 and proved a rounding success, with a line-up that included 50 artisttic performances such as acrobats, dancers, magicians, musicians, jugglers. The tradition continues every year with more and more participants coming from different countries in the world such as Australia, Canada, Argentina, Poland, Italy, New Zealand, USA, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Colombia, Bolivia and other countries.

It is a festival with a unique concept and a new different offer to the public: ten full days of extraordinary experience and total freedom in a brand new way, on open-air location that turns Skopje over night into a fun town named Buskerfest. Busker greets the public not only with street artists and live music, but also with many other different ways to entertain the public: theater plays, pantomime moments, strolling players, creative activities, art exhibitions, bazaars, workshops!

Busker Fest is a winner of “Macedonia Superbrands” award for 2011/12 and became a representative cultural brand for Macedonia, bringing over 100 artists from all around the world in front of not less than 100,000 people!

Gathering some of the world’s hottest street artists ready to entertain and delight the audience with their complementary performances. Here everyone will enjoy the mix of numerous magicians, acrobats, musicians and extraordinary talents, guaranteeing unforgettable entertainment. Buskerfest is a great event for the entire family, connecting people of all ages, so no matter what you do, don’t miss the most spectacular festival of the year.

Galicnik Wedding

Galicka svadba or Galicnik wedding is an event which is held every year on the holiday St. Peter’s (12 July) in the Miak center Galichnik on Bistra Mountain.

It is rich in many unique wedding customs and rituals. In the days of the wedding, pipes and drums echo in the sound of “Teshkoto” (old folk dance), with all the underground and aboveground sounds spreading towards the stones of Bistra and towards the sky. Galichnik wedding in its existence contributed to nourish the only wedding customs and rituals of the inhabitants of this region, to preserve the folk songs, dances, and a famous Galicnik costume, made with filigree precision and accuracy of the tailors. Each year a special committee selects two young people getting married in Galicnik wedding. One of the prerequisites is that at least one of the youngsters come from Galic family.

Each year during the Galicnik wedding, are made large number of customs that characterize this wedding: the beating of drums, mother in law folk dance (svekrvino oro), carrying the bride to the water, setting the wedding flag, invitation of the dead, shaving the groom, taking the bride, kneading the bread, wedding in the church “Sv. Peter and Paul (Sveti Petar i Pavle)” and other customs that are slowly dying, but contain and hide many details of the life in Galichnik in the past. Galichnik now has only two inhabitants, but on St.Peter’s day (Petrovden) come thousands of visitors and tourists who come to see this Galicnik wedding.

Struga Poetry Evenings

Struga Poetry Evenings (Macedonian: Струшки вечери на поезијата) is an international poetry festival held annually in Struga, Republic of Macedonia. During the several decades of its existence, the Festival has awarded its most prestigious award, the Golden Wreath, to some of the most notable international poets, including: Mahmoud Darwish, Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayan Agyey , W. H. Auden, Joseph Brodsky, Allen Ginsberg, Bulat Okudzhava, Pablo Neruda, Eugenio Montale, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Artur Lundkvist, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Nichita Stănescu, Ted Hughes, Makoto Ooka, Miroslav Krleža, Yehuda Amichai, Seamus Heaney and domestic authors such as Blaže Koneski and Mateja Matevski.

The festival began in 1961 in Struga, then People’s Republic of Macedonia with Macedonian poets only, while in 1963 it expanded its list of participants with poets from all around the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.The Miladinov Brothers Award was established for a best poetry book published between two consecutive festivals. By 1966 the event turned into an international cultural festival. The Golden Wreath international award was established in the same year and its first recipient was Robert Rozhdestvensky. In 2003, in a close cooperation with UNESCO, the Festival established another international award called The Bridges of Struga, for a best debut poetry book by a young author. During its long successful existence, the festival has hosted about 4,000 poets, translators, essayists and literary critics from about 95 countries of the world.

The festival has awarded some of the world’s most eminent literary figures, including several Nobel Prize for Literature winners such as Joseph Brodsky,Eugenio Montale, Pablo Neruda and Seamus Heaney, the first African member of the French Academy Léopold Sédar Senghor who was also a President of Senegal, the official royal Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, W. H. Auden who is regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, and many others.

The festival consists of several events held at different locations.

Opening ceremony on the plateau in front of the Cultural Centre in Struga including a traditional reading of A Longing for The South (Macedonian language: Т’га за југ) the famous nostalgic lyrical poem written by the Struga-born poet Konstantin Miladinov during his life in Imperial Russia.

Meridians (Меридијани) a poetry reading by various international poets in the Cultural Centre following the opening ceremony.

Portrait of the Laurеate (Портрет на лауреатот) an event devoted to the year’s main award recipient traditionally held in the church of St. Sofia in the nearby city of Ohrid usually accompanied by classical music, opera or domestic or foreign ethnic music performance.

Manaki Brothers Film Festival

The International Cinematographers’ Film Festival “MANAKI BROTHERS”, is the first and oldest film festival dedicated to the creativity of cinematographers across the world. It started in 1979 with the initiative of one of the main founders – MFPA/ the Macedonian Film Professionals’ Association. It was also co-organized with the Cinematheque of Macedonia and host-city of Bitola, established in honor and inspired by the abundant photographic/cinematographic opus of the MANAKI brothers: Yanaki (1878-1954) and Milton (1880-1964).

The festival grew with great potential so that after the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Macedonia, on the 8 of September, 1991 it was transformed into anMjM4Ng International Festival of world cinemas represented with feature films, competing for the three festival awards: the Golden, Silver and Bronze Camera 300. Thus Bitola became the Mecca of the best international cinematographers, discovering many new talents who are today deemed superb wizards of film photography and cinema aesthetics. They are adorned with the awards of our festival, and at the same time recognized as glorious Oscar-winners who have strolled down the streets of Bitola, which they have considered to be an artistic hub, going back for many years.

Apart from the multitude of laureates of the awards from the CAMERA 300 competition, the Manaki Brothers is also proud of its CLUB OF GREATS, which features the greatest world masters of cinematography/photography who have been awarded the two highest, honorary awards: the “Lifetime Achievement Award Golden Camera 300” and The “Special Award Golden Camera 300” for Outstanding Contribution to World Film Art.

After the posthumously presented Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement to Milton MANAKI, on the 17th edition of the Festival in 1996, and theBranko LUSTIG following year, in 1997, the Golden Cameras 300 for Lifetime Achievement went to the Macedonian doyens – cinematographers Ljube PETKOVSKI and Branko MIHAJLOVSKI, while in the oncoming editions to date, laureates of these precious recognitions have been great cinematographers of world cinema art, such as: Sven NYKVIST, Henri ALEKAN, Freddie FRANCIS, Jose Luis ALCAINE, Jerzy WÓJCIK, Raoul COUTARD, Vittorio STORARO, Vadim YUSOV, Miroslav ONDŘÍČEK, Tonino Delli COLLI, Walter CARVALHO, Michael BALLHAUS, Vilmos ZSIGMOND, Billy WILLIAMS, Peter SUSCHITZKY, Dante SPINOTTI, Anatoli PETRITSKY, Luciano TOVOLI, Chris MENGES, Ryszard LENCZEWSKI, Jaromir SOFR, Bozidar Bota NIKOLIC.

Vevcani Carnival

For over 1,400 years the Vevcani Carnival has been an interesting mix of paganism and modernism. It is held on 13 and 14 January (on the eve and the first day of the New Year, according to the old calendar). The main characteristics of the carnival are: archaism, secretiveness, and improvisation. Its particular features distinguish it from any other carnival worldwide. The home setting of the carnival events is the village of Vevcani, which turns into a boundless theatre, where each house and street is a scene on which disguised people perform plays like real actors.

There are three traditional masks: bridegroom and bride, August the Stupid, and musicians. Other masks are basically major or minor carnival groups, which, by means of their costumes, gesticulations, and moves usually symbolize and ridicule social events and figures.

The role of August the Stupid is particularly distinct. Young energetic people wear this mask and communicate with the audience by means of peculiar movements, gesticulations, and screams.

During the carnival, the disguised participants enjoy every freedom and passion to “place the world upside down” — a freedom of spirit and creativity and a sense of improvisation, criticism, and sarcasm. Officially, women do not participate in the carnival — they do disguise, but unlike men, do not take off their masks in the end.

In 1993, the Vevcani Carnival and the village of Vevcani joined the World Federation of Carnival Cities under the Republic of Macedonia’s constitutional name, despite Greece’s disapproval. Closely afterward, Vevcani raised an initiative for the formation of a national carnival association, covering also Strumica, Prilep, and other places, endeavoring to revive the carnival tradition. Vevcani Mayor Vasil Radinoski was the first president of the Macedonian Carnival Association.

Carnival in vevcani Through its representatives and carnival groups, the Vevcani Carnival has been presented in other places in the world, while Vevcani has hosted foreign carnival groups, as well.

The Vevcani Carnival was the main inspiration for a seminar held in 1996 called “Customs Under Masks,” attended by local and foreign ethnological experts, who presented the main features of the carnival: traditional masks, the appearance of social figures, and elements composing the original contents of the custom. Of course, they made their observation of the innovations incorporated in the traditional custom. The Vevcani Carnival, a particular theatre without walls, has never experienced a cancellation of a performance. With every passing year it attracts increased interest both in the country and abroad.

In addition to the actors themselves, it owes its popularity also to numerous journalist teams, cameramen, and photo-reporters. French ethnologist and photo-reporter Jean-Mari Stenlen visited Vevcani and publicized the story of Vevcani in the Paris Bobur and in other cultural centres of Europe in 1984. His story immortalized the carnival events in an artistic way. He recorded the masks and the events in a spontaneous manner and with a great skill, offering the world a document on Vevcani’s distinctness and the models’ harmony with the perfect simplicity of Vevcani’s environment. Several photos of original masks from the Vevcani Carnival by this author were included in the great encyclopedia of European carnivals, published in Paris in 1986.

On the occasion of this carnival, foreign-based natives from Vevcani come home from all over the world in order to take part in the unique performance, abundantly drowned in red wine, which has enough room for every carnival-loving guest.

Strumica carnival

The Carnival in Strumica is among the most famous events held annually in Republic of Macedonia.

The date of the carnival varies in connection with the orthodox holiday “Forgiveness” which is seven weeks before Easter.

The Carnival is held every year in “Trimeri days” at the beginning of Easter fast, and it is followed by masking, which aims to exorcise the evil and to increase the desire for happiness and fertility.

Among the traditional masking characters are the bride and groom, the priest, Devil, figures from everyday life, from politics etc.

The Carnival ends on Wednesday, when the people from Strumica go into the homes of engaged girls, where they donate to them expensive gifts.

There they sing erotic songs and tell stories with erotic content as a reference to the young married life.

Strumica Carnival has a centuries-old tradition and first written sources are from the Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi.

Until this day, the carnival was held every year, and in the early 70’s effort was made for its organized celebration, but after several years of successful organization, organized form has been discontinued, but regardless of that it continued to take place spontaneously.

The Carnival in Strumica is becoming more and more popular and the number of participants each year is increasing. This event has many side events, exhibitions of children’s masks, drawings and cartoons, selection of the best masks, stage performances, etc.

In 1994 Strumica became a member of the International Association of Carnival Cities FECC, and in 1998 hosted the 18th International Congress of Carnival Cities. As a result of cooperation with the Association established cooperation and exchange groups in many countries.