These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Finding the Rhythm of Slovak Folk Culture

Folk Festivals July-September 2003

Smiling women in bonnets, their long skirts cutting the air with a swish as they move gracefully in unison. Colourfully attired men, performing dances that express power and strength. The rustic twang of folk music, with its laments, its declarations of love, its moments of despair and triumph. For fanciers of performance folk art, Slovakia offers invaluable opportunities to experience the cultural traditions of an area that has been occupied continuously for some 2,500 years.

Perhaps because of the diversity of influences on the land - Celtic, Roman, Hungarian, Slavic German, among others - Slovakia has a remarkably varied song-and-dance heritage for such a tiny country. Some regions favour lively tunes and dance styles that seem explicitly Celtic - perhaps a hangover from the times, around 500 B.C., when the Celts occupied the area. Other regions practice styles that seem almost like Elizabethan-era peasant dance ditties, a reflection, perhaps, of some hidden vein of communication among feudal peasants. And then there's the style that revolves around the fujara, an instrument unique to Slovakia that looks like an ornate didgeridoo but which is played more like a flute. The fujara's thunderous drone creates a sombre, melancholic brand of music; like avant-garde post-war jazz, it's meant to inspire contemplation, not the urge to dance.

All of these styles and more can be found on Tibor Koblíček's seminal CD My Dear Pipes. Koblíček, profiled in this section, is Slovakia's great folk-instrument revivalist. Decades ago in his garage workshop in rural south-central Slovakia, he set about preserving Slovakia's dying folk music heritage by hand making traditional instruments and learning to play them. In My Dear Pipes, he documents the various styles while demonstrating the musical virtues of the fujara, the hurdy-gurdy, and other traditional instruments. It is a tour-de-force statement of unadulterated Slovak folk. Unhappily, the album is notoriously difficult to find.

But folk enthusiasts can experience Slovak folk music in action by attending some of the many festivals that occur throughout the year. These events are also good opportunities to find rare folk CDs. What follows is a listing of events that music and dance lovers will not want to miss.

July 4-6, 2003
Folklórny festival Východná
Folklore Festival Východná
This festival, which always takes place the first weekend of July, is now in its 49th year. It's Slovakia's biggest annual folk festival.
Place: Východná, district of Liptovský Mikuláš.
Information: Tel: 02 5921-4114, 044 552-2389

July 5, 2003
Kladzančani sami sebe
Kadzančani for Themselves
Features traditional local songs, dances, recitals, and handicrafts.
Place: Kladzany, district of Vranov nad Topľou, Dom kultúry.
Information: Tel: 057 449-3479

July 11-12, 2003
Škapuliarsky jarmok
Škapuliar Market
Place: Trstená, district of Tvrdošín, M.R.Štefánik Square.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 539-2276. Fax: 043 586-4928,

July 11-13, 2003
Folklórne slávnosti pod Poľanou
Folklore Festival under Poľana
Entering its 38th year, this annual folklore festival will focus on Slovaks who are currently residing abroad. Also featured: a folk hand-crafts market.
Place: Detva, district of Detva. Amphitheatre, Dom kultúry A. Sládkoviča.
Information: Tel: 045 545-5581, 045 545-5257. Fax: 045 545-5502,,

July 12, 2003
Podsitnianske dni hojnosti - dni tradičného odievania
Days of Wealth under the Sitno - days of traditional clothing
Traditional clothing, crafts, cultural programme, competitions, and tasting local traditional food.
Place: Baďan, district of Banská Štiavnica.
Information: Tel: 045 699-4624,

July 12-13, 2003
Bačovské dni
Shepard's Days
Scenic programs, market, expositions, and creative work-shops, all leading up to a competition for the most delicious sheep's milk products.
Place: Malatiná, district of Dolný Kubín.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 589-5124. Fax: 043 586-4928,

July 12-13, 2003
Dargov '03, Medzinárodný festival dedinskej kultúry
International Festival of Village Culture
Traditional folk culture of Abov, Zemplín, Šariš, and Spiš regions, as portrayed by Slovak and foreign groups.
Place: Dargov, district of Trebišov, kultúrny dom, amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 055 625-7808. Fax: 055 625-7808

July 13, 2003
Matičné folklórne slávnosti
Folklore Festival of Matica
Place: Bystré nad Topľou, district of Vranov nad Topľou.
Information: Tel: 057 442-2871

July 13, 2003
Miestne folklórne slávnosti
Local Folklore Festival
Local folklore groups strut their stuff.
Place: Kolinovce, district of Spišská Nová Ves, in front of Obecný úrad.
Information: Tel: 053 447-2832. Fax: 053 447-2832

July 19, 2003
6. Folklórne slávnosti Dolnej Oravy a 12. Tradičný veličiansky jarmok
6th Folklore Festival of Lower Orava and the 12th Traditional Veličná Market
This folk market and folk festival will highlight the traditions of the lower Orava area.
Place: Veličná, district of Dolný Kubín.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 588-2201. Fax: 043 586-4928,;

July 20, 2003
Letné folklórne slávnosti
Summer Folklore Festival
Place: Čaklov, district of Vranov nad Topľou.
Information: Tel: 057 442-2871

July 20, 2003
Podčičva 2003
A folk crafts exposition.
Place: Sedliská, district of Vranov nad Topľou.
Information: Tel: 057 442-2871

July 23-27, 2003
Medzinárodný novohradský folklórny festival
International Novohrad Folklore Festival
Place: Lučenec, Fiľakovo, Šálgotarián, Balašské Ďarmoty.
Information: Tel: 047 433-1534. Fax: 047 433-1534,,

July 27, 2003
Folklórne slávnosti pod Babou horou, 11. Folklórny festival s medzinárodnou účasťou.
Folklore Festival under Babia hora.
This festival, now in its 11th year, will feature Slovak as well as international participants.
Place: Sihelné, district of Námestovo, amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 559-4216. Fax: 043 586-4928,,

July 27, 2003
Matičné folklórne slávnosti
Folklore Festival of Matica
Traditional songs, dances, and crafts of the Zemplín region.
Place: Pozdišovce, district of Michalovce, amphitheatre near Obecný úrad.
Information: Tel: 056 647-2302

July 2003
Folklórne Oravice
Folklore Oravice
Place: Oravice, district of Tvrdošín.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 532-2167. Fax: 043 586-4928,; e-mail:

July 2003
Obvodové slávnosti Rusínov a Ukrajincov
District Festival of Ruthenes and Ukrainians
Place: Beloveža, district of Bardejov, amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 054 472-2275. Fax: 054 472-4593

August 1-3, 2003
Jánošíkove dni 2003
Days of Jánošík 2003
Artists and artisans from Slovakia and abroad will participate in this festival, now in its 41st year.
Place: Terchová, District of Žilina, Amphitheatre Nad Bôrami, Church of St. Cyril and Metod, Kultúrny dom A.Hlinku, detached exposition Považské museum in Terchová.
Information: Tel: 041 569-5129. Fax: 041 569-5310, 041 569-5129,

August 1-3, 2003
Podroháčske folklórne slávnosti
Folklore Festival under Roháče
Place: Zuberec, Oravský Biely Potok, district of Tvrdošín, Amphitheatre, kultúrny dom.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978, 043 532-1020. Fax: 043 586-4928,,

August 2-3, 2003
Folklórne slávnosti pod Kráľovou Hoľou
Folklore Festival under Kráľova Hoľa
Folklore groups from the Liptov, Spiš, and Horehronie regions will showcase their crafts and food traditions.
Place: Liptovská Teplička, district of Poprad, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 052 779-8110. Fax: 052 779-8132,

August 8-9, 2003
Terchovský budzogáň
International folk-rock Festival
Place: Terchová, district of Žilina, Amphitheatre Nad Bôrami, Kultúrny dom A. Hlinku.
Information: Tel: 041 569-5129. Fax: 041 569-5310,

August 9-10, 2003
Červeník 2003
Folk music, dance, crafts, and traditional clothing on display.
Place: Červeník, district of Hlohovec, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 033 551-1187. Fax: 033 551-1537,

August 10, 2003
Ruthenian folklore groups.
Place: Slovinky, district of Spišská Nová Ves, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 053 447-2217

August 15-17, 2003
Beskydské slávnosti
Festival of Beskydy
Slovak, Moravian, and Polish folklore groups present their handicrafts.
Place: Turzovka, district of Čadca, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 041 433-1250, Fax: 041 433-1250, e-mail:

August 16, 2003
Dožinky na Zemplíne
Harvest festival in Zemplín
Folklore groups present their harvest rituals.
Place: Michalovce.
Information: Tel: 056 644-1099

August 16, 2003
Hornotoryský folklórny festival Krivany 2003
Folklore Festival of Upper Torysa Krivany 2003
Place: Krivany, district of Sabinov, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 051 457-2055

August 17, 2003
Goralské folklórne slávnosti
Folkore Festival of Gorals
Folklore groups display their traditions.
Place: Ždiar, Strednica, district of Poprad.
Information: Tel: 052 449-8358

August 22-24, 20003
Hontianska paráda Hrušov 2003
Hont Parade Hrušov 2003
This festival will feature traditional agricultural demonstrations, food preparation and tasting, as well as crafts.
Place: Hrušov, district of Veľký Krtíš, Amphitheatre, Kultúrny Dom.
Information: Tel: 047 488-0122, 047 488-0137. Fax: 047 488-0127,

August 22-24, 2003
Trnavská brána
The Gate of Trnava
Folklore groups in traditional clothing display their crafts.
Place: Trnava, Trojičné námestie, Dom kultúry.
Information: Tel: 033 590-6110. Fax: 033 551-1542,

August 23, 2003
Gemerské folklórne slávnosti Rejdová 2003
Folklore Festival in Gemer Rejdová 2003
Folklore groups work show off their traditions.
Place: Rejdová, district of Rožňava, Amphitheatre.
Information: Tel: 058 734-4259. Fax: 058 734-1390,

August 28-29, 2003
Hornozemplínske folklórne slávnosti
Folklore Festival of Upper Zemplín
Place: Vranov nad Topľou.
Information: Tel: 057 442-2871

August 31, 2003
Detský folklórny festival
Children Folklore Festival
Place: Smižany, District of Spišská Nová Ves, Kultúrny Dom.
Information: Tel: 053 446-3740. Fax: 053 441-0314,

September 1-2, 2003
Hornozemplínske folklórne slávnosti vo Vranove nad Topľou
Folklore Festival of Upper Zemplín in Vranov nad Topľou
Features folklore groups from Zemplín, Poland and Hungary.
Place: Vranov nad Topľou.
Information: Tel: 057 442-2871, 057 442-4198, 057 442-3838

September 12-14, 2003
Gajdovačka 2003
Bagpipers from all over fill the air with their vibrant sounds.
Place: Oravská Polhora, Dolný Kubín, and Rabča.
Information: Tel: 043 586-4978. Fax: 043 586-4928,

September 28, 2003
Michalský jarmok
Market of Michal
Place: Martin, SNM - EM, Museum of Slovak Village Jahodnícke háje, district of Martin.
Information:Tel: 043 413-2686. Fax: 043 413-2686,

September 12-14, 2003
Vinobranie Rača
Vintage Rača
Place: Bratislava - Rača.

- Tom Philpott

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

Make your comment to the article... (2 reactions already made)