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Unveiling the Enigmatic Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Bulgaria

Embarking on a Journey to Bulgaria, to Discover Babuger, or Kukeri.

Our journey begins in the captivating landscapes of Bulgaria, where the alluring custom of Babuger, better known as Kukeri, unfolds like a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Setting out from Sidirokastro, a stone's throw away from the Bulgarian border, we dive into the heart of this cultural extravaganza.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The custom of Kukeri on New Year's Day

A Road Trip into the Unknown

The quaint town of Kresna whispers tales of the Babuger custom, drawing us in like a mystery waiting to unravel. Armed with little information, the allure of the unknown beckons, and our road trip takes an unexpected turn towards the bustling town of Simitli.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
Kukeri walking around the town of Simitli

The Serendipitous Encounter in Simitli

As dawn breaks, Simitli comes to life with the vibrant energy of the Kukeri festival. Serendipity leads us to the heart of the action as we navigate the streets, stumbling upon a spectacle that leaves an indelible mark on the soul.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The spectacle of Kukeri in Simitli

Mesmerizing Costumes and Intricate Rituals

The Kukeri, adorned in goat's skin and masks with flowing hair, dance through the streets, creating a visual symphony of tradition and mystique. The intricate details of their costumes become a canvas for the lens, capturing the essence of a centuries-old tradition.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
Kukeri hold a wooden sword

A Journey Through Surreal Landscapes

The Kukeri lead us through winding alleys and hills, unveiling a mesmerizing tableau of homes and landscapes. Each visit to a house becomes a performance, with the homeowners setting a table of treats and engaging in symbolic battles, a dance of tradition and generosity.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The Kukeri of Simitli on the main road.

Capturing Moments in Photographs

As a photographer, the surrealism of the scenes becomes a playground for creativity. Houses take on an otherworldly appearance, and every click of the camera captures the essence of a cultural tapestry unfolding before our eyes.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The intimidating costumes of Kukeri

Diverse Characters and Expressions

The Kukeri are not alone in this vibrant display; they are accompanied by a diverse cast of characters – an old couple, a young couple, dancers, musicians, and the beloved Bambo (grandmother). The town of Simitli hosts multiple groups, each adding a unique flavor to the festivities.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The tamer and his "bear"

A Glimpse into the Larger-Than-Life Kukeri

The sheer size of the Kukeri creates an awe-inspiring spectacle. As they pass through houses, their formidable presence dwarfs everything in their wake, making the ordinary seem minuscule in comparison.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The sheer size of Kukeri

A Great Day Culminating in Sofia

The festivities draw to a close, but the journey doesn't end. Our car takes us to the vibrant city of Sofia, where the echoes of the Kukeri festival linger in the air, a testament to the richness of Bulgarian culture.

The New Year's Babuger or Kukeri Festival in Simitli, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, by photographer George Tatakis
The view from my balcony in Sofia

Love

xx


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