Vevchani Carnival (Вевчански карнивал, Vevčanski carnival)
The Vevchani Carnival, one of the most renowned village festivals in the Balkans, is an annual event held on the 13th and 14th of January to coincide with the Orthodox New Year on the Julian Calendar. It is said that this festival has been held in Vevchani (Vevčani) for over 14 centuries. Due to its popularity, festive spirit and spontaneity, this event draws many international visitors and participants.
In Macedonia, the 14 of January is not only celebrated as the Old New Year (Стара Нова година) but it is also a holiday used to celebrate St Basil the Great (Св. Василиј Велики, Sv. Vasilij Veliki) also commonly referred to as Василица (Vasilica).
The carnival begins in the afternoon on the 13 of January with the “Parade of Masked Villagers” called the Vasilichari (Василичари). On the 14 of January the carnival ends in the center of town with a traditional folk dance called Vasilicharsko Oro and the burning of the masks.1
Usually, the costumes for the carnival falls into one of three categories: Musicians, Bride & Groom and August the Stupid. As it is usually men who dress up for the occasion, you will see a lot of “Gorilla” drag parading the streets. August the Stupid is a type of “Joker’s” costume that is typically worn by children. The galleries below have been grouped according to “themes” I found prevalent at the time I shot these photos.
When we approached the village we were stopped by a man wearing a camouflage police officer’s uniform. I stopped, rolled down the window and in perfect English he asked us for our passports. I hadn’t seen the border customs sign ‘Republika Vevchani Tsarina” Hesitantly, I retrieved our passports and before I could hand them to him he said with a smile “Those are the wrong passports. I looked at him puzzled and he jocularly claimed, “You need Vevchani Passports!” and he handed out red passports to us all and let us through.
Vevchani is located on the foothills of Mount Jablanica in southwestern Macedonia about 13 kilometers (17 minute drive) north of Struga. If you are coming from Skopje, the drive is approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes and about 30 minutes from Ohrid depending on traffic. While visiting, be sure to visit the Vevchani Springs located on the western edge of the village.
Youth in Action
Ghoulish and Gory
Over the Top