Planning a ski trip? Want to know when are the school holidays? Here are the Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, Turkish, Israeli, Russian and UK school holidays listed in date order.
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Christmas and New Year and January School Holidays
Bulgaria: Saturday 24th December 2016 to Wednesday 4th January 2017.
Greece: 24th December 2016 to 7th January 2017
Romania: 19th December 2016 to 10th January 2017
UK: 19th December 2016 to 2nd January 2017 (Northern Ireland from 21st December 2016, Scotland to 7th January 2017)
Israel: 26th December 2016 to 1st January 2017 (Hannukah)
Russia: 1st January 2017 to 15th January 2017*
Turkey: 23rd January to 3rd February 2017
Serbia: 30th January 2017 to 10th February 2017
My opinion: Bulgarians tend to be with the whole family over Christmas, and not in the ski resort. So the pre Christmas period until the 27th December is not as busy in Bansko as it is in Alpine ski resorts. My Baba (grandmother) said it will be a white Christmas; that’s not exactly a snow guarantee so stay tuned for my regular snow forecasts from the slopes of Bansko.
February School Holidays
Turkey: Monday 23rd January 2017 to Saturday 4th February 2017
Bulgaria: Saturday 4th February 2017 until Wednesday 8th February 2017
Romania: 6th February 2017 to 14th February 2017
Serbia: 30th January 2017 to 10th February 2017
Serbia: 15th February 2017 to 16th February 2017 (Serbian National Holiday)
England: 13th February 2017 to 17th February 2017 and some schools 17th February to 26th February
Scotland: 9th February 2017 to 17th February 2017
Ireland**: 17th February 2017 to 26th February 2017
(see https://www.schoolholidayseurope.eu/school-holidays-2017-uk.html for all variations)
Best time to ski in February is from the 18th February 2017 — but some state, and some private schools, have this second week in February. Remember holidays start at the weekend — so from the 4th February it will be busy due to both Romanian, and Bulgarian, school holidays.
March School Holidays
NOTE: 1st March is Baba Marta day (wikipedia link). It is not a national holiday but you exchange Martenitsa usually in the form of a wrist band, woven by combining red and white coloured threads. These are worn on that day and through March, until a stork or a bloomed tree is seen, symbolising warmer weather and well being. Or rather when they look tatty, in my case.
Bulgaria: 3rd March 2017 Bulgarian Public Holiday (Liberation Day). (4th and 5th March very busy as well)
Israel: 12th March Purim holiday is a public holiday (in Tel Aviv) and the 13th March (in Jerusalem)
Russia: 22nd March to 29th March
April School Holidays
UK: 3rd April to 21st April
Bulgaria: 8th April to 17th April
Israel: 2nd April to 18th April
Romania: 19th April to 30th April
Greece: 25th April to 7th May
When to visit Bansko?
My opinion: Visiting Bansko at anytime of the year reveals different aspects. For all winter sports such as skiing, snowboarding, back country, cross country skiing, skidoo, I especially enjoy the period from 4th March until end of the ski season: expected 16th April 2017.
In January Bansko is quietest from 15th January until 23rd January because on the 23rd January the Turkish school holidays start and Bansko becomes busy once more.
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* Notes on Russian Christmas and New Year holidays
Christmas in Russia (Рождество Христово Rozhdestvo Khristovo) is observed, on 7th January, as a public holiday according to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church. The public holiday was re-established in 1991, following the decades of suppression of religion and state atheism of the Soviet Union. Christmas on 25th December is celebrated in Russia by the Roman Catholic and various Protestant churches, but is not a public holiday. But despite it not being a public holiday, it is a popular holiday.
Although the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic officially adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church continued to use the Julian calendar. The New Year became a holiday which is celebrated by both calendars.
Visitors from Russia celebrate old style orthodox New Year’s Day, which is on the 14th January (Old New Year) and New New Year on 1st January.
The tradition of the Old New Year has been kept in Belarus, Uzbekistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina (mostly in Republika Srpska), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Moldova, Ukraine (Malanka), Wales (as Hen Galan) and Switzerland (as alter Silvester)
This means that Bansko remains in high season until the 14th January 2017
Part 2 covering the rest of 2017 school holidays to follow.
** Ireland: There are direct Ryanair flights starting for 2016/17 ski season from Dublin.