Top 7 festivals and cultural events in Montenegro in 2019
Aside from having some of the most jaw-dropping scenery, best beaches and picturesque coastal towns in the whole of Europe, Montenegro also has a rich cultural scene and a jam-packed festival calendar during the summer season each year. Visitors to the country are increasingly planning their trips around these festivals, giving them the opportunity to experience amazing music, culture, and art in unique and stunning settings.
If you’re booking a holiday to Montenegro this summer, read on to discover 7 festivals that should be on your radar.
Fasinada – Perast, July
No list of festivals in Montenegro could skip Fasinada – the country’s longest-running festival, dating back over 500 years. The event takes place in Perast, an old town on the Bay of Kotor, and celebrates Our Lady of the Rocks, the church situated on a man-made island just off the shore. When the sun sets on the 22nd July each year, a convoy of elaborately decorated fishing boats make their way along the coast and out to the island, accompanied by local acapella singers. When they reach the island, rocks are thrown into the sea to signify the island’s resistance against the power of the ocean. The whole event makes for a magical and uniquely Montenegrin experience!
Bokeljska Noc – Kotor, August
Photo by © Zoran Nikolić
Often referred to simply as Boka night, Bokeljska Noc is Kotor’s most popular summer festival. Tourists and locals flock to the bay to experience all-night parties and spectacular fireworks and to watch elaborately decorated boats and floats compete against each other for the top prize. The evening begins with the boats sailing along the Kotor waterfront and continues with a huge free, open-air concert near the old town, with thousands of people partying until the sun rises.
“As with so many of Montenegro’s cultural events, the Boka night tradition dates back hundreds of years but proves ever-popular today as locals proudly keep traditions alive and display the country’s rich heritage to its foreign visitors,” says the owner of the nearby Aman Sveti Stefan hotel, Petros Stathis.
Sea Dance Festival – Budva, August
Taking place at the beautiful Buljarica beach in Budva, Sea Dance is an annual three-day festival that attracts over 80,000 people from all over the world. It is the younger sister of the hugely popular EXIT Novi Sad festival in Serbia. Voted best European medium-sized festival, Sea Dance has hosted megastars such as The Prodigy, Jamiroquai, Underworld, Rudimental, Róisín Murphy, Skrillex, Hurts, Lost Frequencies, John Newman, Sean Paul and Fatboy Slim, and this year features a typically impressive line-up of more than 100 of the hottest international music stars. The stunning Montenegrin white, turquoise and green shoreline surrounded by picturesque mountains makes the perfect backdrop to enjoy Sea Dance’s array of world-class performers.
Montenegro Film Festival – Herceg Novi, August
Montenegro Film Festival has been running for over three decades and features an international programme of some of the best and most cutting-edge films and documentaries from around the world. The star of the show along with the films on offer is the festival’s stunning location. It is held in the historical setting of Herceg Novi old town, and the main theatre is an ancient fortress called the Bloody Tower overlooking the Bay of Kotor, with many more unique outdoor theatres scattered through the town.
Lake Fest – Lake Krupac, August
Montenegro’s most popular rock music festival is held every summer at Lake Krupac in the city of Niksic, attracting over 20,000 music fans over three nights. The line-up typically favours local bands and usually features a number of old Yugoslav favourites, giving the festival a distinctly retro feel.
The forest that lines the shore of the lake provides the setting for the festival, and the main stage nestled amongst the trees gives it a special natural charm. Festival-goers can camp for free in the forest, and the organisers ensure the event is eco-friendly by arranging rubbish-collection events and eco-workshops.
“The objective of Lake Fest is to promote urban culture, music, and performance, but also educate visitors about the importance of the relationship between tourism and ecology,” say Lake Fest’s organizers.
Southern Soul – Ulcinj Copacabana Beach, June
Image Source @ Jason Purple
Southern Soul is a three-day jazz, funk, disco and soul festival that takes place each year on the stunningly beautiful, sun-kissed Ulcinj Copacabana Beach.
Southern Soul’s lineup typically includes over 40 artists that collectively play for more than 70 hours across the festival’s three stages, attracting thousands of visitors from both Montenegro and across Europe. It takes place on a part of the beach that is known for kitesurfing, offering attendees the chance to spend their days enjoying watersports before partying the night away. The festival prides itself on being an event with a conscience, committed to ensuring it is environmentally responsible. Banning the use of plastic bags, reducing the distribution of leaflets and raising awareness about reducing festival goers’ carbon footprint through the use of public transport are just some of the ways the organisers help to minimise the event’s environmental impact.
Mimosa Festival – Herceg Novi, March
Mimosa Festival marks the beginning of spring after the dark days of winter, taking place in the beautiful port city of Herceg Novi each March. Named after the yellow Mimosa flower, which is one of the first to bloom in spring, the festival attracts hundreds of locals and tourists each year.
To prepare for the festival, a team of volunteers pick over 10,000 mimosa flowers and arrange them in bouquets, before distributing them in spots all over the city. During the festival, a parade marches through the town’s streets, with musicians and dancers adding to the celebrations, while vendors set up tents and hand out complimentary fried fish, wine and mimosa flowers.
After the parade, people move to the town square to dance to live music, while children take part in a range of fun, family-friendly activities. Finally, in the town marina, a giant papier mache structure that represents the ills of the past year is ceremonially burned to signify new hope.