Bulgarian tracks: the road to the Koprivshtitsa Festival (and back again, and again)
The Koprivshtitsa, National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore, has been held (around) every five years since 1965, and throughout its fifty-year history has drawn an ever-increasing audience of Bulgarian music and dance enthusiasts from all corners of the globe. This paper asks why many participants travel to this festival for every successive edition. It traces what I am terming the ‘tracks’ of the Koprivshtitsa festival and its audience on three interrelated trajectories; the first follows the historical track of this festival; the second explores interrelations with the landscape and place in the notion of this festival; and the third is linked to memory, real and imagined, exploring how the changes in the world beyond Koprivshtitsa and the festival have had implications on the ‘festival experience’. It concludes that the reasons that participants continue to return to the festival can be found in a conflation of the second two trajectories, the (relatively) unchanging tracks linked to the festival location and organisation, and the changing tracks as this festival has adapted to new technology and travel possibilities, and has expanded its market to include Bulgarian urbanites and diaspora Bulgarians.