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 April and December 2019.
The Easter Celebrations
From the carnivals preceding the Easter holidays to old agrarian costums that happen on the second day of the Orthodox Easter, the celebrations abound with customs and traditions that are fascinating to discover. In rural areas in Maramures and Bucovina people paint eggs and they attend Easter Mass dressed in some of their most beautiful folk costumes. They cook mouth-watering dishes, knock eggs to honor Jesus’ Resurrection and celebrate with food and dance the coming of the spring.
In 2019 the Catholic and Orthodox Easter are only a week apart (as well as in 2020), so you could attend both of them in our Easter Holidays in Romania Tour.
Roman Apulum Festival: 3rd of May – 5th of May
The historically charged city of Alba Iulia hosts 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.
Transylvania International Film Festival: 30th of May – 9th 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 Synonyms, winner of the top prize at Berlin Film Festival, along with La Gomera and Dolor y Gloria, presented previously at Cannes. An Elephant Sitting Still and Long Day’s Journey Into Night are two other worth-seeing projections. On their official website you can find more on the program.
Sibiu International Theater Festival: 14th of June – 23rd 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. The best Romanian and international dramas are presented on scene, with this year’s highlights being The Seagull, In a Forest Dark and Deep, Before Breakfast, Waiting for Godot and the famous Faust. For more details on the complete program you can check out their official site.
National Festival of Traditional Music and Dance “The Mountain Peony”: 29th of June – 30th of June
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.
Shepherds’ Milk Fair “Measuring of Milk Production”: 30th 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.
Festival of Hearts: 3rd of July – 7th 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.
“Haferland” Transylvanian Saxons Festival: 25th of July – 29th of July
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.
Romafest Gypsy Camp: 26th of July – 31st of July
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.
Sighisoara Medieval Festival: 26th of July – 28th of July
The longest-running medieval festival in Romania celebrates its 25th 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 theater plays.
Traditional Music and Dance Festival “Sus pe Muntele din Jina”: 3rd of August – 4th of August
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.
National Trout Festival: 18th of August – 19th 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.
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.
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.
Festival of Traditional Music and Dance “For my Sweetheart from Botiza”: 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.
Festival of Traditional Costume: 18th 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”: 18th 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: 23rd of August – 25th 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.
Cheese and Brandy Festival: 24th of August – 25th 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.
International Festival of Speleology Art: 30th of August – 1st of September
This festival gathers all those who are interested in the mysterious world of caves: cavers, nature lovers and artists. In 2019 the festival is held in Suncuius, Bihor County.
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.
Dacian’s Marathon: 31st 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.
Sibiu Potters’ Fair: 31st of August – 1st 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”: 31st of August – 22nd 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 each year.
In 2017 the renowned pianist Lang Lang came 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.
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, usually at the end of September.
In the past years there were events in the last weekend of September in Bran, Brasov county, on the third weekend on September in Baia de Fier, Gorj county and in Runcu, Dambovita county. In Poiana Sibiului, Sibiu county on the 19th of September there was 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.
The Christmas season is marked by a plethora of customs, traditions and small celebrations that make everyone giddy with delight. Starting on the 6th of December with Saint Nicholas Day and until the the first week of January when Saint John is honored, people do their best to prove that Christmas in Romania is great. On Christmas Eve they carol their villages and go to church dressed in beautiful folklore costumes. While in the next days they take part in fantastic winter festivals, such as the one in Sighet, Maramures or the ones in Bucovina. Not to be missed is the Bear Dance Festival in Comanesti, where you can witness a centuries-old tradition.
Add to this the wonderful Christmas Markets or the fairy-tale like experience of staying in an ice hotel and you could spend an amazing Christmas in Romania!
So this is our list of recommended Romanian cultural events for 2019. 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, Private Tour of Romania, Tour of Transylvania from Budapest, Family Tour of Romania.
Or, if festivals are not your cup of tea, check our other recommendations of things to do in Romania!