Programme à la carte

Whether you are in for a beautiful hike through the mountains and forests to the architectural reserve Zheravna (8 km), or want to prepare a real Bulgarian "banitsa", or you want to immerse yourself in Bulgarian and gypsy music, or go to a wine tasting at a famous winery to go, or you just enjoy a book to read in the large garden and a little stroll through the town, you're on holiday. Our aim with the “programa à la carte" is that you can decide whether a Part of our programs, to attend. Whatever you choose, we are dedicated to the our statement "to give you the real Bulgarian experience”.

Our 'a la carte program "is designed for guests who want to stay in our guest houses and make their own choice to learn about how nature and culture of the Kotel. Note the calendar dates below so you can link up with local festivals and activities. Many of our guests have qualities from work and hobbies that they want to share with others. We are eager for such meetings, and will facilitate where possible.

City and park tour Kotel

With explanation from insight and museum visit. Recommended to get to know Kotel, during the first day(s) of your stay.

Walking without a guide

Maps (scale 1:50.000) to plan your own walks are available. We also have a number of directions of the most beautiful walks. The tours are light to medium heavy and two to six hours long, the maximum altitude difference is 500 meters. Good walking shoes are recommended.

Guided Walking Tours

For the most beautiful trips with comments or if you want to visit special places such as caves and archaeological sites, a tour with a guide is recommended. The tours are light to medium heavy and two to six hours long, the maximum altitude difference is 600 meters. Good walking shoes are recommended.

Singing Workshops

Bulgarian singing workshops for (small) groups or a private master class. With us you get the tradition delivered from “first hand”.

Private music lessons

Learning to play authentic Bulgarian musical instruments (kaval, gadulka, tambura or gaida) and accordion, or take a master class by teachers of the Music School. Private Classes and translation services available on request. Possibility of buying yourself a gaida, kaval, tambura or gadulka.

Dance workshops

Bulgarian dance for groups of at least 6 people. Our motto is "not to teach dances, but learning how to dance like the Bulgarians do at weddings and parties." Anyone with a sense of rhythm can participate in the event. The dance lessons are live accompanied by one or more musicians.

Bulgarian day

Brief introduction to the origin of the population: Thracian, the Slavs and Proto-Bulgarians, of the 1st and 2nd Bulgarian Empire, the language and the Cyrillic alphabet, the Byzantine and Turkish domination, the revival time, the Royal Family, communism, revolution and new era. Also about Kotel: lying on the road from Istanbul to Bucharest and Moscow, about sheep farming and prosperity, the carpet industry, the resurrection time, and decay. Following a visit to the Pantheon of Rakovski including the historical museum. After a typical Bulgarian lunch (in season) you will be received in a revival house of Kotel where various short workshops are given. In the evening you will have dinner with Bulgarian orchestra, singing, dancing and wine.

Turkish day

Brief introduction of the distribution of the Turks in Bulgaria, the Turkish domination, the Pomaks and Gagauzi, the Turkish community in and around Kotel: Shiites (Kazalbashi / Alivië / Aliani) and Sunnis. Then we leave to the Turkish village Yablanovo, lunch with traditional dishes such as Kurban, tziger ashè, keshkek and more in traditional setting. A possibility of visiting Tourbè (prayer position), visit to a tobacco plantation and drying (from mid-August), workshop Semah (traditional religious dance). In the evening a contemporary dinner (Koftete) and (sas)music, song and dance performance.

Karakachan day

The roots of the Greek-speaking and until about 1955 still living nomadic people, their distribution between Bulgaria and Greece, the Karakachanic dogs and sheep, specific folk traditions. We will visit a Karakachanic sheep farm, and be learning how to prepare a Karakachanic “drawn” banitsa, enjoy a dinner and see a dance performance by a local dance group.

Note: between June 15th and September 15th there is only a little dance group because a large proportion of members are residing in Greece. First Sunday of July visit to Karakachanic festival at Karandila near Sliven (recommended).

Gypsy day

Roma, history: when they spread out in Bulgaria and their socio-economic situation in Kotel. Visiting the Roma gypsy district (mahala) and a Gypsy family. Watch the black smith and learn to play the Tarambuka. Evening dinner and rousing music.

Bulgarian music and dance evening

Dinner with Bulgarian specialties and Bulgarian live music, song and dance.

Karakachanic evening

Dinner with Karakachanic specialties and dance and / or vocal performance.

Gypsy Music evening

Dinner with Balkan gypsy orchestra and a show, and enough opportunity to boogie on the dance floor yourself.

Hederlez in Yablanovo
Only around May 6

Festival of the Year in the village of Yablanovo on the Sunday closest to May 6, with large market, music and dance program and the traditional Turkish wrestling. Imagine yourself in a different world and time ....

On May 6 itself it is “Georgievden” in Bulgaria, all Georgi’s, and those who have names derived from that have their name day. It is the feast of lamb and spring. If May 6 is not on a Sunday, you can experience both traditions.

Also on and around that date we have our Transhumance festival celebrated and it is possible to join the herd of sheep and shepherds on their walk.

Kyril & Methodi
Only on May 24

The local festivities on and around the days of Bulgarian culture. This day is day of the Bulgarian alphabet by the brothers Cyril and Methodius and the official end of the school year. Graduates (“abiturienti") of high school selebrate four days a great party, where "everything is taken out of the closet ". Parade in the most beautiful gala costumes, dancing, cheering and getrom, and the music for a final concert by the students themselves put together. Above all of course the “bal”. We let you experience this as were you related to any of these youngsters.

Karakachan "sbor" on Karandila
Only on the first Sunday of September

On the first Sunday of September gathering the Karakachan everywhere from Bulgaria and from surrounding countries to source their annual sbor (gathering) on the mountain Karandila above the town of Sliven. Dance, traditions, songs, roast lamb on the spit, and especially the impressive costumes of the Karakachani (Greek-speaking and until the late fifties nomadic living population) in a mystical place, off the rocks of Karandila.

Sveti Ilia in Gradets
Only on August 2

In the village belonging to the municipality of Kotel, 80% of the population is of Roma origin, mainly living from logging (dârvari) and stone carved from the hills (Gradetski plotski). On August 2 the village celebrates its annual festival with lots of music and beer.

Costume national traditions and folklore festival in Zheravna
21, 22 and 23 August 2015

For three days, the village of Zheravna will be a one-of-a-kind time machine. The Festival of The National Costume Zheravna 2013 will take place from August 23th till 25th for six years in a row. It will gather thousands of people from all regions of Bulgaria to celebrate with dance and music as their ancestors did 100-150 years ago.

The only condition for attending the festival is to wear a traditional costume. It could be authentic, theatrical, or custom-made. It could represent any region, social status, profession, or craftsman guild. See pictures and read more about Bulgarian folk costumes on the official website.

Participants will enjoy traditional cuisine: meze, cheeses, dried and grilled meats, banitsa, breads, wine, and rakia. They will observe and take part in old-style wrestling, kukeri parades, nestinari dances, and the work of various craftsmen. The celebrations will be accompanied by traditional bagpipes, kettle drums, and cymbals as well as by dance performances by professional folklore ensembles and troupes from all Bulgarian ethnographic regions and other Balkan countries.

The use of modern devices and technology, even of chairs, forks, and watches is very restricted in order to ensure the authenticity of the experience. The festival is organized by Foundation “Bulgare”. The festival Zheravna is a truly magnificent reincarnation of Bulgarian culture and heritage. This festival received Europe's hallmark for authenticity "Bona fide".

Badni vecher on Christmas Eve and dancing Koledari in Yambol
Only on December 24 and 25 and during the New Year celebration

On Christmas Eve, the largest block of wood (Badnik) is thrown on the fire and the family is gathering to eat by tradition an odd number (7, 9 or 11) of vegetarian dishes. In the evening / night than Koledari singers come along to home to sing for the family and their guests energetic songs for well being and blessing. The next day in the city Yambol (65 km) the dancing Koledari come together. The wine in the barrel is "rujno" and the pig slaughtered. We come through the winter well... A few days later the New Year’s eve. Traditionally, in Bulgaria celebrated in big company in a restaurant with good music, dancing and a lot xxx-course dinner from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00.

Gypsy New Year "Bango Vasil"
Only on January 13

Two weeks after New Year, the Gypsies celebrate their New Year. After shurane (congratulations twigs strokes on your back), but of course many and loud music. The day later the musicians (who of course on January 13 were "working"), have their party from the money they earned with a nadzvirane (like jamming together).

Herbs, berries and mushrooms

On June 24 it is “Enovden”, on that day people go berefoot to the fields at sunrise to pick herbs. This is the period of wild spices, wild strawberries and raspberries. We invite you to take this time to pick them and tasty dishes (late June - early July).

From late September to late October, the wild mushrooms (especially chanterelles and Cep / Boletus Edulis) at their best. Go early in the morning with an experienced picker into the woods, come back with wild mushrooms and a nice meal. Do you have too much then just sell your stock at the "punkt" ....

This program is a certain reservations as regards the weather. Mushrooms are the best example when it rains and it is warm ...

Carpet Weaving and Bulgarian crafts

Explanation and instruction in self-weaving Kotel carpets by an experienced carpet weaver. Galina herself is also a skilled worker of Bulgarian hand embroidery, crochet and knit.

Culinary workshops

Prepare typical Bulgarian recipes together with our cook, such as guvets (stew), batnitsa, kat?k and another, or make a dish with Galina: Dobrudzjanska pitka or banitsa. Then we go to the dinner table together where the real delicious homemade rakia, wine and natural fruit juices are waiting.

Visit wine museum and wine tasting

With a mini-van we go to Sungurlare (35 km) and we visit the wine museum and the beautiful icons exhibition in the basement of the museum. Following a wine tasting with meze (Bulgarian version of tapas) in Chateau Slavjantsi or Brate Minkovi near Karnobat, two of the most prominent wineries in Bulgaria. This is the area where the red and white misket (not to be confused with muskat) comes from.

Flying with deltaplanner and pilot

Trips of 20 to 40 minutes beyond Kotel and surroundings with magnificent views from the above (bird´s eye view). Ideal to take pictures. You fly with an experienced pilot. To reduce costs is recommended that at one day there are at least 4 candidates who want to make a flyght with Delta planner.

Bicycle Tours

Maps of the area with recommended routes are available. The routes are easy to follow on the basis of the description and use of the map. The tours are part gravel and asphalt roads, 30 to 60 km on a sloping terrain with some big climbs of a few kilometres long. Choose from traditional circuit architecture, nature trail, route or Turkish villages or the rakia and wine route. You can also create your own route. goKotel owns 3 mountain bikes.

Horseback riding in the mountains

With a guide on horseback into the mountains and forests of Zheravna.

Horse cart Tours

With horse and wagon through the village Zheravna and environment.

Caves and spelaeology

In the region of Kotel are a number of large and deep caves. You will discover these virtually unexplored caves with guide (for experienced amateur and professional cavers).

Prices: For most of these activities, there is a price per group plus a price per person. Send us your schedule, program idea’s and number of people and we will send you a quotation.

Registration: Guests houses and individual arrangements can be booked from 20 May to October 10. Go to Contact for information and reservations.

Kotel is on the road 55 km north of the town of Sliven - a city on the highway Sofia-Bourgas - and 38 km south of Omurtag - a town at the highway Sofia-Varna. Distances to airports: Bourgas - 125 km, Varna – 200 km and Sofia – 375 km.

We are pleased to advice and assist you with your flight and travel arrangements to Kotel.

We hope to welcome you in Kotel, already more than 1,100 guests came before you! Read their reactions.


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