Things you probably didn’t know about the Bulgarian cultural heritage

Bulgaria often is related by the general British public with its sunny beaches, beautiful mountains, and good wine. And possibly only a few people are familiar with its rich historic and cultural heritage besides the country’s stunning nature.

Bulgarian Folklore

Bulgaria's main ancestral cultures – Thracian, Slavic, and Proto-Bulgarian combined with each other, have developed and transformed to produce the body of folk customs, beliefs, artistic forms and traditional narratives that have existed right up until the modern era and which are now collectively known as Bulgarian folklore. Bulgarian songs offer a marvelous combination between Thracian archaism, Byzantine liturgy, popular songs, sagas and laments.

The uniqueness of “Extended time” rhythms

The most distinctive feature of the Bulgarian Folk music is the complexity of its rhythms in comparison to Western music. Such rhythms are achieved by means of diverse time combinations based on “Extended Time”. This technique makes Bulgarian folk song unique, while extended time is its distinguishing feature, which is non-existent in the rest of the European music. This feature has been fascinating many composers such as Bella Bartok, who composed many works featuring the unique rhythms of the Bulgarian folk songs.

Bulgarian Chant

In 864 during the reign of the Saint Knyaz Boris I, Bulgaria became the first Slav kingdom to adopt Christianity as a state religion. In 927 during the reign of his son, Emperor Simeon I of Bulgaria the Bulgarian Patriarchate was established as the first in the history of Christianity to be added to the original Pentarchy of Patriarchates (Rome, Constantinople, Egypt, Alexandria and Antioch), an event of huge historical importance as it gave a precedent for the establishment of the Russian Patriarchate some 600 years later.

After the creation of the Cyrillic Alphabet in Bulgaria by the disciples of St Cyril and Methodius in the late 9th Century, a need was realized for the Sacred Chant to be adapted for the purposes of the new script and liturgical language. This was the beginning of Bulgarian Chant. Based upon the rich heritage of Byzantine Chant and enriching it with Bulgarian intonations, Bulgarian chant achieved such distinct beauty that later chant repertoires in the Byzantine and the Russian-Orthodox tradition were named "Bulgarian Chant" after it and were influenced by its features. Furthermore the distinguished reformer of Byzantine Chant, Yoan Kukuzel who was of Bulgarian descent composed his famous "Polieleion of the Bulgarian Woman" in tribute to his mother.

During the period of the Ottoman invasion Bulgarian Chant continued its uninterrupted development within the monastic tradition despite of the official Muslim rule and was not destroyed as such, unlike the Bulgarian secular music of the time. Numerous manuscripts survive from that period and most notably the Rila Chanting School at the Rila Monastery reached remarkable flourish between 17th and 19th Centuries and composers-monks like Neophyte of Rila, Joasaph of Rila, Averki priest Stoyanov, Procopius Acacius, Anasthasius and abbot Joseph amongst many others created masterpieces of Bulgarian Chant which fascinate with both their beauty and sophistication. Nowadays the Rila Monastery preserves one of the largest libraries of Slavonic manuscripts kept in European library.

Bulgarian Chant with its unique approach to modality and particular sophistication within its monodic development is a subject of rigorous research amongst distinguished Bulgarian scholars, to mention Elena Toncheva, Svetlana Kujumdjieva, Klara Mechkova, Assen Atanasov amongst many and fascinates contemporary composers, such as Vassil Kazandjiev, Konstantin Iliev and Martin Georgiev.

Here are a few intriguing and less – known facts about Bulgaria in general:

The Cyrillic Alphabet,

was created at the Preslav Literary School, at the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire. It was commissioned by the Bulgarian Tzar Simeon I The Great in the 9th Century from the disciples of the Saint Brothers Cyril and Methodius and named "Cyrilic" in their tribute. This is one of the three official alphabets in Europe. The Cyrillic alphabet has strong millennia long traditions; it is the writing alphabet of more than 250 million people in the Slavic cultural area. This alphabet may be the most original part of Bulgaria’s specific contribution to cultural diversity.

The Bulgarian rose oil,

from antiquity up to the present days has been used not only for its unique scent but it is a base of the most expensive and high quality perfumes. Bulgaria is one of the two biggest producers of rose oil in the world.

The invention of yoghurt,

which dates back to the Thracians - ancient inhabitants of the Bulgarian lands. The milk of the water buffalo cultured with the Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria gives Bulgarian yoghurt a taste like no other. The Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacteria is to be found only in Bulgaria. In the beginning of the 20th century the Russian (Nobel Price awarded) scientist Ilya Mechnikov discovered that more people lived to the age of 100 in Bulgaria than in any of the 36 other countries he studied, and directly linked that to the country’s most traditional food – yoghurt.

About LFBC


- H. R. H. Prince Kyril of Bulgaria
- Sonia Rouve - Uvaliev
- Dimitar Berbatov
- Vejdi Rashidov
- Yordanka Fandakova


The objectives of the LFBC are to:

- Present the Bulgarian Culture, and it’s heritage featuring prominent and up-and-coming names of the International art scene – performers, composers and painters.

- Create artistic partnerships, between Bulgarian and British artists.

- Encourage collaborations with other festivals and organisations by creating an intercultural dialogue of ideas, achievements, and art experimentation.

- Popularise the works of the Bulgarian artists, by propagating them to wider audiences and stimulating by this a greater interest and better understanding of the Bulgarian Cultural heritage, most of it widely unknown to the general public in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world.

- Promote the Bulgarian classical music in particular, inspiring also other artists with different cultural background to get to know it better by performing works of Bulgarian composers, and also to promote works influenced by, and deriving from the Bulgarian's specific rhythms and melodies.

The Organiser

Classical Concerts Productions is a limited company, registered in England and Wales (Number 6510807), established in 2008 in London.

Clasical Concerts Production Logo

The director of the company is Ivo Stankov who is also a musician and the initiator of the idea for the London Festival of Bulgarian Culture.

He has been organising concerts and other cultural events for the past seven years, in venues in London such as Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square, and in other places in the UKand Europe. He has collaborated with many artists and ensembles worldwide and has a vast experience in the music business.

He has performed alongside some of the well-known international artists such as Sir Cliff Richard, Mark Knopfler, and others.

Many institutions and influential figures involved in media and arts in Bulgaria and the UK have already expressed their full support for the London Festival of Bulgarian Culture.

Here are some of our main supporters:
- Bulgarian Embassy in London
- Bulgarian Cultural Institute
(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Bulgarian Ministry of Culture
- British Council in Sofia
- British Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce
- Cerise Arts Agency
- Bulgarian Composers Union
- BG Ben Newspaper
- Carboni Classical Media
- Bulgarian Virtuosi Artists

London Festival of Bulgarian Culture is a member of British Arts Festivals Association