The holiday of love (a.k.a Valentine’s Day) is just around the corner. Millions of roses will be delivered to [mostly] women across the country from their lovers and secret admirers. While most of the roses delivered across the United State come from South America, there is another country making waves for its roses. Did you know Bulgaria is another big producer of roses? The Eastern European country is famous for its rose oil and celebrates the flower during the annual Rose Festival in Kazanlak.
Kazanlak is at the center of rose oil extraction in Bulgaria and is located in the famous Rose Valley. The hills surrounding the city are covered in pink and red Kazanlak roses in the spring and early summer, when the flowers are in bloom. Our tour guide told us the rose gardens in Kazanlak are the largest in the world. It was incredible to see so many flowers in one place. Kazanlak was easily one of the prettiest and best smelling places I’ve ever seen.
At the beginning of June, Bulgarians and tourists from around the world celebrate the roses and the oil they produce in the annual Rose Festival in Kazanlak. I was fortunate to be traveling through Bulgaria when the festival was in full swing. The festival takes place over a few days and there are many different events scheduled during the Rose Festival. You can check out traditional harvest rituals in the morning, watch traditional dancing, tour the gardens and watch parades that take place in town. On the last day of the festival there is a beauty pageant where they crown The Queen Of Roses. And of course, there’s plenty of time to stop and smell the roses.
What I loved most about the Rose Festival in Kazanlak was how happy everyone was. You can tell in the smiles and laughter of the Bulgarians how proud they are of their country, their traditions and their roses. Many are dressed in traditional clothing, and there is a lot of singing, a lot of dancing and a lot of celebrating. There was a group of girls who walked around handing out roses and tossing rose pedals to everyone. It’s not just a celebration of roses, but it’s a celebration of Bulgaria as well.
Bulgarians have a lot to be proud of. Kazanlak roses produce a large amount of oil, which is nicknamed the liquid gold of Bulgaria. The rose oil is very popular and is a large industry for Bulgaria. The roses are all picked by hand and more than 2,000 people work in the gardens in Kazanlak during the harvest season. The rose oil is used to make things like chocolate, perfumes, jam and liqueur.
Have you ever traveled to Bulgaria and experienced the Rose Festival in Kazanlak? We would love to hear all about your experience. You can leave a comment below or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. We are also on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Don’t forget to also check out more of our adventures right now on http://catchthewinds.com! —TT