CYCLE TOURS TRANSCARPATHIA
ARTICLE "FESTIVALS OF TRANSCARPATHIA"
Let’s have closer look at the most popular Transcarpathian festivals.
Festival of Christmas plays
In Transcarpathia Christmas celebration is inseparably tight with Christmas theatrical performances. More than 60 troops take part in Christmas-cribs tour around Transcarpathia. In the streets of many cities they organize performances and demonstrate traditions of their region. The festival involves Christmas carols, songs, folk dances. Due to persistence and enthusiasm of festival participants, national traditions are kept, revived in people’s memory, are passed from one generation to another and amuse people.
Festival of Butchers in v.Gecha
Every January the Festival of “Gentshes” (which is a Transcarpathian for professional butchers) is held in the village of Gecha, Transcarpathian region. Butchers’ Festival gives a chance to see our ancient national traditions, connected with the ritual of pigs killing. This festival is a great opportunity to taste delicious homemade sausages, meat, lard and many other dishes, and after all this food, drink good wine, flowing here like water, get familiar with recipes of both popular and almost unknown dishes. Visiting this festival will bring a lot of positive emotions and pleasant life-long memories about Transcarpatian hospitality.
“Red Wine” Festival
January is also annually marked with another event which is a wine-tasting festival-contest, called “Chervene Vyno (Red Wine). Private wine-makers and famous factories represent various sorts of wine made of grapes traditional for this region, as well as various European sorts of grapes. Wine tasting takes place on the Myra square which is central square of Mukachevo city. Wine tasting is accompanied by interesting Christmas performances and eating national Transcarpathian dishes.
“White Wine” Festival
A tradition to celebrate white wine festival was established in the village of Beregovo in 2000. Nowadays, “White Wine” Festival has a status of a national one. For three days wine-makers of Transcarpathian region demonstrate their best wines of the previous year harvest in the city center. Agenda of “White Wine” Festival in Beregovo includes testing the best sorts of wine, demonstration and sale of specialized equipment for wine-making, exchange of experience among wine-makers, exhibitions of photographs, various contests, lotteries, and all these are naturally accompanied by singing, dancing, performances of dancing and musical bands honoring wine.
For a number of Ukrainians ordinary traditional Maslenitsa celebration turned into a big festival of winter farewell and spring welcoming. In Uzhgorod this holiday is accompanied by a merry fair with tasting delicious Transcarpathian dishes (here you have a chance to taste roast meat, pan-cakes and dumplings and drink hot wine and mead), theatricalized performances, games and concerts. Main events of the festival take place on the territory of Poshtova square and complex “Owl’s Nest”.
Maslenitsa has two traditional symbols, which are pan-cakes (called “palachints” in Transcarpathia and cooked by each housewife following her own recipe) and a scarecrow that is scary and funny at the same time. Closer to the completion of festival, people burn the scarecrow calling spring to come sooner. People throw old things into the fire in order to get rid of all the evil and make a wish. In Transcarpathian region people see winter off in such warm, merry holiday atmosphere.
A new festival appeared in Uzhgorod in 2006 and has already become international as far as representatives from various countries take part in it (Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and others).
This erotic festival aims to develop and spread modern art, bring up right and healthy attitude to the wonderful, bring up aesthetic feelings due to popular and attractive music, contributing to development of tourism in Uzhgorod and in the whole Transcarpathian region. “March Cats” Festival has three main lines:
- Visual– arranging exhibitions of actual art, exhibitions of photographs and others;
- Educative – organization of round tables, discussions, presentations, flesh mobs;
- Literary - organization of presentations, declamations, cross-disciplinary performances, slams.
At the end of April Uzhgorod is covered with incredible cloth of sakura blossom. It starts to blossom in the middle of April, however its blossoming peak lasts till the end of month and even till the end of May days. It is incredibly magnificent spectacle, when bare branches of sakura tree get covered with thick pink lace of flowers. Thousand of tourists come to Uzhgorod every year in order to see this beauty.
Japanese decorative cherry tree was brought to Uzhgorod as early as in 1923. Nowadays, you can admire the beauty of its blossom in every corner of the city; however, the biggest part is close to the Uzh-river. A sakura alley was planted here in 2009-2011 and is considered to be the longest one in Europe.
Spring turns Uzhgorod into a fantastic Garden of Eden, as other trees blossom along with sakura. They are Chinese, Florid apple-trees, apple-trees of Nedzvetskiy, Japanese apple-quinces. Flowers of white, pink and violet magnolias explode. And two weeks later the Narcissus Valley gets covered with flowers in Khust, Transcarpatian region.
During the period of May days, citizens and guests of Uzhgorod celebrate the festival of wine and mead called “Sunny Drink”. Traditionally, bee-keepers and wine-makers present their products to tasting committee during this Transcarpathian spring festival. Festival agenda is full of various concerts, performances, contests, amusements and tasting.
In the mountain area of Kireshy, located not far from the city of Khust, a magnificent narcissus valley has spread. At the beginning of May it starts to get covered with tender white bloom of narcissuses, and at the end of May days the valley is fully covered.
The host of this valley – narrow-leaved narcissus - is a rather rare plant which was included in the endangered-species list long ago. The valley of narcissus in Transcarpathian region is the biggest in the world and the only natural one. Ecological and educational center “Museum of Narcissus” is located on the territory of this valley. Personnel of the center will gladly tell all the interested about unique fauna and flora of the valley, history of its creation and saving.
In times of Soviet Union the valley was planned to be destroyed, ploughed and used for agricultural purposes. Authorities succeeded to annihilate 50 ha of narcissuses. After that the territory of this valley became a part of Carpathian Biosphere Reserve.
Tourist industry of Khust is growing year by year due to numeral pilgrimage of tourist to the magic Valley of Narcissuses.
Every year thousands of tourist, guests, and devotees of blacksmiths’ art get together in the village of Lisichevo, Transcarpathian region, for a Festival of blacksmiths’ art and folk crafts “Hamora”. They come here aiming to watch with their own eyes blacksmiths dealing with brand, to see old water smithery operating here for more than sixty years. Experts of blacksmiths’ art demonstrate their skills, dexterity, give master-classes teaching the basis of their profession. Anyone who wants has a chance to participate in the festival and try oneself in the role of a blacksmith, to work applying blacksmiths’ techniques being more than 1000 years old. Program of the festival also includes various contests, amusements, and performances of comics, local folk music groups, spear running performed by club of historical reconstruction “Orion’s Sword” and many other interesting and exciting events.
Brides’ Parade in Uzhgorod
The capital of Transcarpathian region is fond of various open air celebrations, parades, festivals. Another very interesting and bright celebration is Brides’ Parade in Uzhgorod, held annually on the Youths Day. Main goal of Brides’ Parade is to attract public attention and especially attention of youths, to such important values as marriage and family.
For already married beauties it is a wonderful chance to be a bride once more, wear beautiful white dress, feel delighted looks, and for single girls it is so called rehearsal before this important day in their lives which will teach them to take their own wedding more serious and responsible. A number of events take place during the festival, including photo sessions with brides, motor rally of wedding corteges, Brides’ Parade in the city streets, various master-classes, contests (the most original dress, the best hair-style, make-up, bridal bouquet and others), concert program, party in a night club and many other surprises.
An interesting fact is that in 2010 Uzhgorod Brides’ Parade reached an international level in the number of participants. 179 brides were participating in that festival. Prior first place in this nomination belonged to Moscow where 150 beauties took part in such competition.
“Plum Liquor” Festival
“Slyvovy Lequar” (Plum Liquor) is a popular gastronomic festival in Transcarpathian city of Beregovo. Agenda of this event includes making plum liquor, cooking various dishes with plum marmalade on the basis of old Gutsul recipes (“gombovtsy” (cheese rolls), “fanky” (doughnuts), “kalachy” (pocket-shaped buns), “kyflyky”), the best cabbage rolls, cooking master-classes, singing, dancing, amusements.
“Gutsul Turnip” Festival
This festival has been held in Rakhov region since 2005. Traditionally, international ethnic festival of rural tourism “Gutsul Turnip” takes place on the first Sunday of September. This festival is dedicated to potato (turnip) which is really fruitful in this region. According to folk tales and stories, turnip saved Gutsuls from famine. That’s why “Gutsul Turnip” festival is a kind of ritual for local people and aims to promote agro-tourism in the region.
Organizers of the festival take it rather serious and responsible. They meet and see off guests by carts, treat them with delicious dishes from turnip, organize tasting home-made drinks (“Tverdostoy”, “Shtopavka”, “Yafinivka”, “Shvydkostay”), interesting master-classes are organized including cooking dishes from potato, weaving, carving, embroidering, willow weaving, pottery, blacksmith art and many others. Local hosts and hostesses invite guests to enjoy potato dishes, dumplings with turnip, and various potato cakes, smashed potato in Polonina style and other delicacies. The festival is accompanied by wonderful performances of Transcarpathian folk groups, ensembles of three instruments, contests in peeling potato, throwing it and so on. Guests are also welcomed to participate. During the festival, a fair is organized where you can buy various decorations, souvenirs, products of folk art craftsmen, various goods ranging from food to clothes.
No tourist or guest of “Gutsul Turnip” festival will stay calm feeling aroma of delicious dishes and peculiar smell of smoke.
International festival «Bereg Fest»is one of the oldest Transcarpathian festivals, held in the city of Beregovo since 1963under the title of “Freedom without Borders”. Main idea of «Bereg Fest»festival is to revive ancient national traditions of Beregovo region. A very interesting program expects guests of the festival: festive fancy-dress parade, mini spear-running, following an old tradition to let virgins to mix the first grape harvest with their feet, exhibitions of industrial and agricultural products, traditional wine, cheese and honey tasting, contests, sport competitions, lotteries, various entertaining programs.
Young Wine Festival
Every year traditional Transcarpathian “Young Wine” festival of invites devotees of grape drink to the city of Uzhgorod. The festival greatly resembles similar festivals held at the beginning of the year – presentation of self-made production by local wine-makers, gastronomical fair, tasting various dishes, cheese, mead, baked potatoes, special soup “bograch” and so on…