As the whole world turned upside down, so will the Carnival! Before the Carnival was moving and people were watching it.
Now, this year 2021 people were moving and the Carnival was watching them! It was static but alive, interactive and throughout the day. It started at Orlovets Sports Hall and the House of Humor and Satire along with the riverside and river spaces passing the Theater, the Garden with the Bear up to Vazrazhdane Square. It’s easy, just follow the cat’s path.
Most of the carnival installations are already known, and some of them have even been made.
We launch a red Ferrari and Borisov’s SUV on the track.
We train online, we vaccinate.
We participate in European life through green deals.
Then comes the NIGHT…
… At night there was a great concert, as every year. And we continue on Sunday with even more events for those who had a little in the previous days.
And now seriously. Whatever the situation is, wear masks.
For more information about the CARNIVAL : https://carnival.gabrovo.bg/en/home/
Generally, Bulgaria is not a country with carnival traditions. Yes, we do have our masquerade games which are related to folklore. These are the KUKERI. The Kukeri masks are scary, usually made of animals skins and horns and are typical with their enormous heavy bells. The bells are attached with belts to the waste and their sound scares away the evil spirits. This is a widespread tradition in Bulgaria which is usually performed around Sirni Zagovezni (the Sunday before Lent).
However, the carnivals in the way they are familiar in Western Europe are not typical for Bulgaria.
Given this background, the Gabr
ovo Carnival is an interesting exception. We cannot exactly date back when the dressing tradition began, but it was discussed in the 19th century as already set. The Gabrovo Carnival boasts to be the oldest and the most lavish in Bulgaria. It is also unique because it is not self-oriented – it originates and is in line with the city image as the Capital of Humour, which makes it a culmination of a yearlong events cycle (some of the events traditionally set, others one-time only) that support the Carnival.
The event took place initially also during Sirni Zagovezni (the Sunday before Lent), but it gradually lived a separate life. There were short interruptions during WW2, then it was spontaneously revived. Next it was recognized by the workers from the numerous factories in Gabrovo, then it was organized by the Communist Party and later by the Municipality. The tradition is interrupted several times for a few years, but currently (from 1998 onwards), the Carnival takes place each year, the last week of May.
Gabrovo Carnival :
- The main organizer is the Municipality Gabrovo.
- The event is funded by the budget of Municipality Gabrovo.
- 2000 disguised participant in the procession.
- 70-90 carnival pictures.
- More than 30000 spectators.
- The Carnival has a new logo and moto each year.
The first Covid-19 infected in Bulgaria was registered on 08th March 2020 in Gabrovo. The Municipality immediately took measures and during this first viral wave in the country, the town has only a few cases of infected people.
However, all cultural and public events were canceled, the students switched to distance learning, workers switched to working in shifts, home office and other alternatives. The country was locked down for a few weeks. Leaving or entering the city was forbidden except for medical treatment or work. All shops were closed except for pharmacies and supermarkets. There were time slots for shopping of elderly people only.
One of our accompanying events was canceled – celebration of 1st of April – the Day of Joke.
We had to validate a post stamp with carnival them on this day, in the presence of the Minister of Transportation and Communications. The event was planned on a large scale, as an open-air public event, with the characters of the stamp, music, etc. Unfortunately, the event did not happen and we just showed the already issued stamp.
Given this situation, the Carnival in its usual annual form was not supposed to happen.
I admit that we cherished hopes till the last moment that the situation might have changed, but having in mind the measures that were taken on national level, it was not rational to conduct such a large scale public event, although by the end of May the situation had eased and many of the measures were withdrawn.
Therefore, inspired by the balcony concerts that were happening in Italy, we decided to bring the Carnival in the home of each citizen of Gabrovo.
The concept :
- We have made only 3 carnival pictures, instead of the usual 70.
- A platform with models of the National Operational Headquarters that gave briefings every morning at 08.00h on national TVs about the infection spread in the country and about the different measures to be taken against the virus.
- A platform depicting the globe wearing face mask.
- A platform with the Cat, which is a symbol of the Gabrovo Carnival, accompanied by … a virus. Each year the Cat leads the procession and we symbolically open the Carnival by cutting its tail. This is one of the most emblematic jokes from Gabrovo – the local people are said to cut their cats’ tails so that the cats can move in and out of the room faster and not to waste warmth through the door.
- The three platforms roamed Gabrovo streets for several hours on a preliminary specified route.
- Each platform had music and 2 entertainers which played jokes with the pedestrians and with the people on the balconies.
- We had appealed to the people for carnival decorations on their balconies and to greet the models from there.
All this was streamed live on the internet directed by a Carnival studio where 2 entertainers made live connections with the platforms read spectators’ comments to the live streaming, made jokes, and gave regards to Bulgarian celebrities – actors, musicians, influencers, etc.
We have announced a competition for the best-decorated carnival balcony, for most carnival families, and for a best-disguised pet. For this competition, we gathered pictures from 194 participants, mostly from Gabrovo, but we had such from the country and even from Mexico.
The Result :
90000 viewers of the carnival live streaming.
33 km carnival route totally.
Participation with greetings from tens of Bulgarian cities and also viewers from Belgium, Norway, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Poland, England, France, Mexico, USA.
The event received TV coverage in all national televisions and witnessed a large-scale me
We have managed to create a very interesting, innovative, and positive carnival which we consider extremely successful. It was evaluated also very positively by our community, which took part in the event and appreciated the fact that even with minimal budget, time and a number of restrictions, we have managed to preserve the emblem of the city.
Regretfully, after the summer decline both Bulgaria and Europe suffer a second wave of coronavirus spread. Currently, Gabrovo is in the infection red zone, i.e. amongst the regions with most ill people.
The scenario happens again although the measures in the country now are more liberal compared to thos
e during the first virus wave. However, public gatherings are forbidden and some of the cultural events can be held with a 30% seat capacity of the halls.
Therefore, the usual opening event of the carnival season underwent transformation as well. It takes place each year on 11.11 at 11.11h. Usually then we set the start of the carnival preparation and announce the next year theme. The event is common for all carnivals around the world and the date was preceded by massive carnivals cancellations.
Considering the high illness rate, high death rate and people’s anxiety, it was not appropriate to make too much noise. We have decided not to announce a new theme on 11.11 and to celebrate the already postponed April event of the validation of the post stamp. We made the event behind closed doors with only organizers and a few journalists present, but we did our best to get good media coverage. Thus the Carnival again reminded of itself, but the focus was not on the fun but on the post stamp itself, which in Gabrovians’ point of view is both good investment and can also bring good news in times when we need them.
More information : https://www.creativetourismnetwork.org/gabrovo-bulgaria/