How to make the most of a Bansko Summer: Events round up

Sep 15, 2012 No Comments by

Stamenka (guide for free hiking) shows how to hug the oldest tree in Bulgaria

As the Bansko hot summer continues, I take a look at why I think this has been the best summer yet. I also look ahead to some events over the coming months. These can also be found in The Essential Guide to Bansko (free to Bansko Blog subscribers).

Event times in Bansko

Another Bansko summer — it was, at times, as hot as an Arabian dessert.

And the sun still shines so nicely and looking good for the long Bulgarian weekend on the 6th September to 9th September.

But it is time for a quick reflection on how the summer events in Bansko turned out. I then take look at forthcoming events including the Razlog Rock (РОК Разлог) festival (free) and the Three Peaks MTB 129 km challenge.

The more Bansko has going on the better it feels. Local businesses benefit; the town comes alive and we move closer to the day that Bansko starts to earn its title as an “all season’s resort.”

Bansko Summer events?

Having taken part in arranging two events this summer, I now have even more respect for the time tireless energy that people put into making things happen. To the sponsors of many of these events we must also be very thankful as most are free or very low cost. Most events require countless voluntary hours, and many make only marginal financial sense.

The Good Beer Show

Bansko Good Beer Show

DJ ShakerMaker: Britpop while beer drinking

On 4th August, to coincide with the start of the Jazz Festival later on, was The Good Beer Show. With around 220 people coming along I particularly enjoyed not only helping out serving the beer but also meeting so many people coming to Bansko. Brit pop specialist DJ, DJ Shakermaker, kept it all together.

I must mention that the event was organised by Bansko Royal Towers (“BRT”), and Bansko Blog. So I am biased on this one! Here is a great video speeded of the beer show and the Sunday free guided hangover hike. All to some nice Jazz music.

Tasting craft beer, whilst children played in the BRT grounds, made for a pleasant afternoon. Local business owners — from hotel and chalet owners to property managers, were in good attendance. Bansko property owners were in good attendance — making the most of their Bansko homes.

Relaxing by and in the BRT swimming pool, a spot of volley ball. A good time.

MTB Race The Road to Nowhere

The annual mountain bike race, The Road To Nowhere, at the end of July, saw a good turnout. Fast riding for the growing Bansko mtb scene.Read on for The Three Mountain 120 km Ultra race on the 29th September.

Pirin Sings

Only once every two years this event celebrates local life. People who went along enjoyed this really local event full of local colour.

Bansko Jazz Festival

Spanning two weekends 4th to 11th August, the Bansko Jazz Festival 2012 saw a ton of Jazz come to town. The late night jamming sessions in the Banderitsa hotel was where Jazz lovers ended up. For me, it was the truly uplifting session form Mungo Jerry that saw me wanting more. Hiking early following days meant late night had to be curtailed.

But the more rather challenging pure Jazz acts saw me in a musical desert.Lost amongst a jumble of sounds. That was “lost” until I heard a wonderful cover of Santana’s “Smooth”. All in all then, the Jazz Fest continues to draw many thousands of visitors to Bansko. It’s my favourite summer week in Bansko. This Jazz week is normally the 8th to 13th August, so a date for the diary for 2013.

Free guided hiking

Bulgaria hiking

Starting out from Vihren hut

From 5th August to 9th August we had seventy five people over the series of five free guided mountain walks. Every day Stamenka, myself and a supporting guide took the group on different Pirin mountain routes. All routes were undertaken by children and seeing several families come together; all hiking together made it all worth it.

We pushed the length of the walks to five hours on day three, four and five. But all the hikes could be completed, with ease, by a ten year old child.

The free mountain guiding concept is popular in other mountain resorts around Euope and the USA. And whilst I thought it could work here too, I was not 100% sure.

With no requirement to book, the idea is for walkers, individuals, families,… anyone in fact, to just turn up at the specified place, and time. I had enjoyed the free guiding concept elsewhere. Most recently on the Sofia free guided walk. So I was confident that Bansko visitors and residents would like the format too.

Luckily they did; people turned up. A relief!

UK, Macedonian, Greek, Algerian, French and Bulgarian hikers all mingled, and Bansko stories exchanged. The concept of a tip based system is still new for most people. But similar hikes cost €30 per person… so some substantial savings were made!

One of the highlights was for me to have time to speak to Bansko visitors and get a feel for why they some and what they enjoy here. Some of these ideas are going straight into the new Bansko Blog site redesign under way right now. Perhaps most pleasing was Erica, an American single traveller, who chose not only to come to Bansko, but also Bulgaria, only because of the free guided mountain hiking. Thank you Erica.

The Pirin are a have a special energy to them. And what is more, they are not so well known internally.

Hype free, they are viewed upon by new visitors, like night follows day, as a pleasant surprise. Lakes mountains and the almost white marble peaks create many contrasts.

Thank you for Stamenka for being our guide. For encouraging us to pick the abundant wild thyme and St John’s wort. And explaining how this mix that is used for the most refreshing tea.

Local knowledge = More fun.

The Opera Festival

Bansko Opera Festival 2012

A superb event held in Bansko last weekend. I hope this will continue to grow. James Hughes’s work here is addition to his hard work on the mountain biking scene and his heroic “supper club”.

The Avalon Supper Club

I made the first of this series of supper clubs as an excuse to invite friends. My dear fellow gastronauts, this was a foodie heaven. James exceeded all expectations and never have I been out to eat and heard so much praise.

The seven courses of pure pleasure were:

Warm goats cheese salad, poached pear, balsamic reduction; Salmon tartare; Suprême of chicken with a saffron beurre blanc; a Watermelon granita; Cheese; Lemon tart; coffee and the “amuse bouche” of a gazpacho in a glass. Outstanding.

Please do more of these in the ski season.

This is exactly what I think Bansko needs.

Rock Razlog 

On Friday 7th and Saturday 8th September from 19:00. The Razlog Rocks fest is the last of the music festivals. And it’s FREE!

razlog rocks

Razlog Rocks 2012

Well respected Bulgarian rock bands and I am guessing this will be good, but as rock music is especially popular in Bulgaria I think these are going to be well attended evenings. Razlog really is getting its act together.

From here are the details…

…”Rock Razlog” is organised by the Municipality of Razlog.

Besides the well-known Wickeda, backfire and Svetlio & The Legends, the “Rock Razlog” will take part formation Beatles Acoustic Project, consisting of Donny, Kotze, Kalki, Slavcho from BTR and Venko Poromanski. The quartet will take Razlog legends to the world of “The Beatles”, and their timeless hits.

“Our ambition is for the festival” Rock Razlog “to become a tradition as time and space value of Bulgarian music, its creators and performers. The strong start to the music festival “Rock Razlog” in 2011. should guarantee its success in 2012. “said Krasimir Gerchev, mayor of Razlog.

Click here for map of location (central main square Razlog). More info

I’ll be there checking out the action.

Three Mountains 120 km Ultra Race on 29th September 2012

All the details and registration at A first for Bansko. Keen mtb’ers should not miss this one. More opportunity for people to discover the mtb potential in the Razlog valley.


Premier Gourmet Festival

2nd to 11th November at the Premier Luxury Mountain Resort.

Click here for full details and schedule.


Bansko International Film Festival


What do you think of events and activities in the summer in Bansko? Are there enough? Are there ones I have missed? Send your event in for inclusion and get the word out to 10,000 visitors per month. Did you attend and enjoy any of these events? Your comments here or by email are welcome.

Winter planning

For many just back form summer holidays, the next thing to look forward to are the ski holidays. So I have the ski hire, ski tuition, lift passes and transfers covered for the fifth season here on Bansko Blog.

Currently I’m working on the new ski package bookings, a redesign of this site and updates to IOS and Android mobile apps. More on this soon. The Bansko 2013 calendar (normally €10) is free when you spend £100 (€125 approx) or over. It is yours, as well as the special early booking discount.

Click on the Facebook “Like” button below to keep up to date with the latest Bansko news and to share Bansko Blog’s story with your friends.

Check out Bansko mobile apps for Android and IOX (iphone). Updates and fixes now complete for Android (live cam working) and IOX (live cam, bug fixes). More updates and fixes coming all the time.


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.
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