With a rich and varied cultural background, Romania is a wonderful place to discover for both art lovers and people enamored with authentic traditions. You can meet people wearing traditional costumes, watch entertaining performances or immerse yourself in times long gone-by. Here is a list of the most important Romanian cultural events that take place during May and September 2017.
Roman Apulum Festival: 28th of April – 1st of May
The historically charged city of Alba Iulia hosts this magnificent event, the biggest festival celebrating the Romans and Dacians, Romanian ancestors. During four days dozens of actors dressed in clothes from ancient days will take part in gladiator fights, perform traditional dances and dramas and be part of a slave fair. For participants there is an array of activities available, from archery competitions to guided tours and crafting workshops. The festival ends with an epic battle between Romans and Dacians. For more information and pictures of past events go to their website: http://festivalulromanapulum.ro/ .
International Festival of Speleology Art: 4th of May – 7th of May
This festival takes place in Blaj, a small city in Transylvania and gathers all those who are interested in the mysterious world of caves: cavers, nature lovers and artists. The participants will engage in contests, workshops, exhibitions, outdoor activities (like hiking or canyoning) and even underground explorations, for an unforgettable experience. For more details you can check out their official site: http://speo-arta.ro/en/.
Bucharest International Jazz Competition: 13th of May – 20th of May
Part of the International Festival EUROPAfest, this event is ranked amongst the 3 best jazz competitions in the world. Taking place in Bucharest, the 2017 edition attracts 22 bands with musicians from 20 countries across the globe. There will be concerts, jam sessions and music workshops that will satisfy both music experts and novices in the world of jazz. At the end of the week the best artists will be chosen. Go to their official website for the full list of participants and tickets to the event: http://jazzcompetition.ro/.
Bike&Like, Cycling Tour of Transylvania’s fortified churches: 27th of May – 28th of May
This cycling tour promotes the magnificent fortified churches of Transylvania, but also traditions and customs of local communities. Participants will alternate between riding a bicycle and visiting churches, where they will be provided with a guided tour and delicious, local foods. The event ends with an awards ceremony for both beginners and advanced riders, followed by a celebration with music and food. This year’s edition takes place in Tara Fagarasului. Join the competition here: http://bike-and-like.nostressevents.ro/.
Transylvania International Film Festival: 2nd of June – 11th of June
Part of this year’s Romanian cultural events that stand out is TIFF. Taking place in Cluj-Napoca since 2002, it is the oldest and most important international feature film festival organized in Romania. It features innovative, challenging movies that focus on society’s current problems, whilst respecting artists’ liberty of expression. Amongst the films confirmed for screening this year there is Neruda, nominalized for the Golden Globe Awards, along with El ciudadano ilustre/ The Distinguished Citizen, Argentina’s submission to the Oscars, the comedic film Paris, pieds nus/ Lost in Paris, the thriller Que Dios Nos Perdone/ May God Save Us and All These Sleepless Nights, Sundance’ winner for the best documentary. On their official website you can find more on the upcoming program: http://tiff.ro/en .
Sibiu International Theater Festival: 9th of June – 18th of June
The Sibiu International Theatre Festival represents Romania’s most important cultural event devoted to art – a combination of theatre, dance, music and performance, with the theme for this year being love. The best Romanian and international dramas are presented on scene. Tickets for the 2017 edition are already sold out for the TNRS production “Faust”, for “Brodsky/Baryshnikov”, performances by The New Riga Theatre and for the “..Aquel Silverio” (“…That Silverio”), a performance by the Andalusian Flamenco Ballet. For more details on the complete program you can check out their official site: http://www.sibfest.ro/sibiu-international-theatre-festival.html .
The Traditional Crafts Fair
Taking place at the Village Museum in Bucharest, this event gathers artisans and craftsmen from all over the country. There are free demonstrations of woodcarving, glass blowing, weaving, pottery and stalls displaying traditional clothing, shoes, linen, carpets, home-made jams and cheese.
Shepherds’ Milk Fair “Measuring of Milk Production”: 24th of June – 25th of June
It is a traditional festival organized in Sirnea, near Bran where people reenact customs of shepherds. They build a sheepfold, shear the sheep and milk them. Afterwards they measure the milk, in order to establish the quantity of cheese that each sheep owner will receive in fall. The event finishes with a celebration where people eat traditional food and dance to folk music.
Jazz in the Park: 26th of June – 2nd of July
Another festival not-to-miss on the list of Romanian cultural events for 2017 is Jazz in the Park. This festival meant to promote the jazz genre takes place in Cluj-Napoca. Already at its fifth edition, it expanded from concerts organized in the Central Park to also include the Jazz in the Street section, with performances taking place in 4 different locations in the main plaza, a contest for jazz bands and shows with international performers held in the Hungarian Opera. Amongst this year’s guests are Susana Baca, Dhafer Youssef and the Barcelona Gypsy Balkan Orchestra. Visit their official site for more information: http://www.jazzinthepark.ro .
National Festival of Traditional Music and Dance “The Mountain Peony”: 1st of July – 2nd of July
It is a festival highlighting Romanian authentic traditions, organized near the village of Gura Raului, in a special pavilion built by a dam. Villagers prepare local food, boys and men perform a traditional dance and they have a horsemen’ parade. The festival ends with a celebration that lasts late into the night.
Festival of Hearts: 5th of July – 9th of July
An event included in the UNESCO calendar, this festival takes place in Timisoara and gathers folk ensembles from both Romania and other countries across the world. Participants will parade in traditional costumes and dance to folk music at the Summer Theatre in the Park of Roses. For more details on the upcoming participants check their official website: http://festivalulinimilor.ro .
Garana International Jazz Festival: 6th of July – 9th of July
Amongst the Romanian cultural events that attract an impressive audience is the Garana International Jazz Festival. This open air jazz festival takes place every year in Garana, a village in the Semenic Mountains. The 2017 edition has an attractive lineup, with both famous performers and new voices. The American John Scofield, the Enrico Rava-Tomasz Stanko Quintet and the Swedish group Tonbruket announced their presence. The concerts will be held in three different locations: Poiana Lupului, Hanul La Răscruce and the Catholic Church of Văliug Village. For the complete list of attending artists and tickets to the festival check out their website: http://www.garana-jazz.ro/en/ .
Traditional Music and Dance Festival “Sus pe Muntele din Jina”: 29th of July – 30th of July
This Romanian traditional festival takes place in Jina, a village in Sibiu county. The event is one of the oldest organized across Romania and aims to help preserve the customs and established practices of the locals. The participants taste local food, watch dance performances and listen to artists singing folk music.
EuropaFest Summer edition: 13th of July – 25th of July
The summer edition of EuropaFest, a festival unique in Europe for presenting 4 different music genres – jazz, blues, pop and classic – in a single big event, is organized in Sinaia under the High Patronage of the Romanian Royal Family and it includes classic and jazz concerts. It attracts a large international audience in the performing category, with artists from 16 countries across the globe. The participants can expect to have a wonderful time, as two of the concerts take place at Peles Castle, one of most beautiful Romanian castles. For more details check their website: http://jmevents.ro/ .
Romafest Gypsy Camp: 30th of July – 5th of August
Held in the village of Gornesti, close to Targu-Mures, this 1-week festival celebrates the gypsy culture and folklore. Participants will be able to learn about Roma dances, songs and language, whereas professional musicians and dancers from all over the world will act as teachers. Every night a ,,Gypsy Colinda” takes place, with people visiting different Gypsy villages close to Gornesti to experience a real ,,Gypsy party”. For more details regarding the festival click here: http://www.romafest.com/jp/camp/2017SummerCamp/index_en.html.
Festival of Maramures Traditions “The Long Way to the Merry Cemetery”: 23th of July – 20th of August
This festival aims to promote the unique traditions of Maramures, with visitors taking part in activities such as craft workshops, meeting with the elders of the villages to find out their stories and listening to folk music. This year’s edition will include two weeks of events: between the 23th and 30th of July celebrations will take place in Tara Lapusului, whilst between the 13th and 20th of August activities will be organized in Tara Maramuresului. On the 20th of August all participants will meet at Sapanta where the Merry Cemetery is located for a final celebration ceremony.
Sighisoara Medieval Festival: 28th of July – 30th of July
The longest-running medieval festival in Romania comes back after a one-year break to celebrate its 24th edition. During the last weekend of July the town will be immersed in a breathtaking atmosphere reminiscent of regal courts, with people dressed in wonderful costumes and putting up performances on the narrow streets of Sighisoara. There will also be knightly battles, a carnival of medieval masks, craft workshops, art exhibitions and street theatre plays. For the full program of the event go here (there is an English version at the end of the page).
Transylvania’s Saxons Annual Get-Together: 4th of August – 6th of August
Festivals held in honor of the Saxons are a gold mine of information amongst Romanian cultural events. The largest reunion of Saxons held until now in Romania takes place this year in Sibiu. Over 20 000 Saxons from Europe are expected to come and together with local participants make this a formidable event. People strolling along the streets of Sibiu will be able to see traditional dance performances and music concerts, learn about Saxon customs and their history and taste delicious foods. Between 29th of July and 13th of August Saxons will also visit surrounding villages and meet their predecessors.
“Haferland” Transylvanian Saxons Festival: 9th of August – 14th of August
It is a festival dedicated to promoting the cultural heritage of the Transylvanian Saxons and includes the villages of Fiser, Rupea, Saschiz, Viscri, Roades, Crit, Cloasterf and Mesendorf, all part of the Oat Country. Saxons and local participants get the chance to take part in religious services in the famous fortified churches, to admire photography exhibitions, to watch dance performances and organ concerts, to learn about local crafts and listen to stories of their past. No day will pass by without tasting savory, traditional foods. Find out the full program and other information on their website: http://www.haferland.ro/en/ .
National Trout Festival: 12th of August – 13th of August
The village of Ciocanesti, in Suceava county hosts this unique festival, where the keeping of local traditions is mixed with the pleasure of fishing. Visitors will be entertained by the fishing and cooking contests and by listening to jokes about fishing. But they will also learn about the local culture through traditional costume displays, concerts of folk music and by participating to religious services.
Sheepherders’ Gathering: 15th of August
On this day shepherds from Marginimea Sibiului region and from other surrounding villages meet at Tilisca in order to celebrate their occupation. They sing, dance, feast, play games and tell tales from their experience.
Marine Day – 15th of August
Festivities for Marine Day or Day of the Navy are held on the maritime shore of the Black Sea and in Constanta, the most important Romanian naval city. Citizens can watch military, naval and air parades, participate in sea games and admire the fireworks. There are also music concerts and stalls with delicious, traditional food.
Festival of Traditional Music and Dance “For my Sweetheart from Botiza”: 17th of August – 18th of August
This festival is held every year in Botiza, Maramures county, to honor the people and authentic traditions of the region. People dress in costumes specific to the region; they decorate their houses, feast on local delicacies and dance to folk music. The name of the festival comes from one of its contests, where people choose the most beautiful woman of Botiza.
Servus Transilvania Fest: 18th of August – 20th of August
One of the lesser known Romanian cultural events is Servus Transilvania Fest. Held in the village of Biertan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this open-air festival aims to promote talented people from the music, theatre and dance domains. Rookie artists perform folk dances, rock and pop music concerts and theatre dramas. There is also a Fair of bio and hand-made products where visitors get to know local specialties.
Festival of Traditional Costume: 20th of August
This event takes place in Gura Raului, a village in Sibiu county, on a Sunday. After going to church villagers dress in their best costumes and meet in the center of the village, where they engage in local dances and other festivities. At the end of the day villagers and their guests get together for a meal made with local products.
Traditional Music and Customs Festival “Dance at Prislop”: 20th of August
The Prislop Pass in the Carpathian Mountains is the place where this festival is held every year. After attending mass villagers parade in traditional costumes and then they meet to take part in local festivities: they dance, listen to folk music and eat savory, local dishes. Artists from Maramures, Suceava and Bistrita-Nasaud are invited.
Medieval Festival of Transylvanian Citadels: 25th of August – 27th of August
The charming town of Sibiu hosts this medieval festival where participants come to discover a lost world. Visitors will be able to enjoy a Parade Costume and to take part in a variety of workshops: blacksmithing, storytelling and sewing. They can also have a guided tour of the city, watch an execution scene in the main square of Sibiu or have a go at shooting with a bow. All the time they will be enchanted by medieval music and dances. Find out more about the festival on their official website: http://fmct.ro.
Cheese and Brandy Festival: 26th of August – 27th of August
This festival takes place in the village of Rasinari, Sibiu county to promote the local gastronomy. Rasinari is part of the Marginimea Sibiului region, holder of the title “European Destinations of Excellence” (2015). During two days participants can taste and buy local delicacies: cheese, mutton stew, ,,bulz’’ whilst listening to fold music and watching artistic programs.
Dacian’s Marathon: 26th of August
Held in Orastie, a region rich with history, this marathon aims to promote the places where traces of Dacians, Romanian ancestors, still exist. The route passes by the Dacian fortresses of Costești-Cetățuie, Costești-Blidaru, Piatra Roșie and ends at Sarmizegetusa Regia. All these sites are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. If you are interested in joining the marathon, check their site: http://www.corporeanima.ro/maratonuldacilor/ .
Fish Soup (Borscht) Festival: 1st of September – 3rd of September
The village of Crisan, situated in the center of the Danube Delta, hosts this festival which gathers food lovers from all over the region. Teams representing small villages participate in a cooking competition where they use as main ingredients fresh fish. The highlight of the competition is the preparation of fish soup, called borscht, each team using its own secret method to ensure that the best dish is served. During the festival, visitors can also find out about the rich biodiversity of the Danube Delta and the local heritage.
Sibiu Potters’ Fair: 2nd of September – 3rd of September
One of the notorious Romanian cultural events taking place in Sibiu is the Potter’s fair, a festival which attracts over 150 renowned craftsmen from the most important pottery schools in Romania: Horezu, Corund, Baia Mare, Oboga, Glogova, Marginea, Obârşa and Rădăuţi. Locals and tourist can admire and buy their works: pots, cruses, decorative jars, dishes and mugs, all made of clay.
International Classical Music Festival “George Enescu”: 2nd of September – 24th of September
It is a biennial event organized in the capital of Romania, Bucharest, in memoriam of George Enescu, the country’s most famous musician. Internationally acclaimed orchestras and opera companies perform every year, with new premiers taking place in 2017. The renowned pianist Lang Lang will come to Romania for the first time and Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and National Orchestra of France also announced their presence. Check out the official website for the full list of performances and tickets to the event: http://festivalenescu.ro .
International Arts Festival “Plai”: 8th of September – 10th of September
It is a music festival held in Timisoara, European Capital of Culture in 2021, at the open-air Banat Village Museum. Artists from different countries across the globe and pertaining to different cultural backgrounds come to perform and promote multiculturalism. Visitors are encouraged to interact with each other and engage in creative activities: they can take part in crafting workshops, talk with ONGs and find out about their projects, reminisce about their childhood in a specially designed Game Space or practice yoga and meditation. For more details regarding the festival you can check their website: http://www.plai.ro/en/ .
Festivals marking the return of the shepherds
Once fall comes shepherds come back to the villages and return the sheep to their owners. Events celebrating the end of the pastoral year are organized in various places across the country: in Bran, Brasov county, between the 30th of September and the 1st of October, in Baia de Fier, Gorj county and on the 17th of September, in Runcu, Dambovita county. In Poiana Sibiului, Sibiu county on the 20th of September there is a large sheep fair. Participants can watch villagers parading in traditional costumes, listen to folk music and try fresh cheese made by shepherds, usually accompanied by a glass of home-made wine. There are also exhibits of animals (sheep, bovines and horses) and a fair where handicrafts are put up for sale.
So this is our list of recommended Romanian cultural events for 2017. If any of the festivals managed to catch your eye, here are some of our suggested trips where we can include a stop to your favorite event: Day trip from Alba-Iulia or Deva, Classic Tour of Romania, Tour of Transylvania from Timisoara, Family Tour of Romania.
Or, if festivals are not your cup of tea, check our other recommendations of things to do in Romania!