Festivals in Kosovo vary between honoring the independence of the new country, keeping old cultural traditions alive and flourishing and the special rites and rituals of Islam and Christianity. Locals are keen on their events, with Hazu Jehon and the Independence Day celebration two of the favorites.
A national holiday of great importance to all Kosovans is Independence Day, held every February 17 in every town and village to honor the fledgling country’s long fight for autonomy. Expect street celebrations, parades, and a great deal of national pride.
This fascinating folklore festival is held every May in Gjonaj village, about 10 miles from Prizren, and is a celebration of traditional music and dance. Featuring 20 ensembles from all over Kosovo, exhibitions of traditional Hasi costumes and crafts are on display, attracting thousands of international and local visitors alike.
Prizren Cultural Fair
Held every year during the August/September month of Ramadan, the Cultural Fair begins after sunset around 8:15 p.m. and concludes at midnight. The courtyard of the historic 15th century Turkish Hammam is the venue, and visitors can expect a plethora of food and drinks stalls, as well as handicrafts, traditional clothing, musical instruments, and much more. Local Muslims come here to break the fast and the atmosphere is totally Kosovan.
Ura e Artit International Art Festival
September in Prizren sees the bank of the River Lumbardhi lined with exhibitors for the annual Bridge of the Arts festival, celebrating Kosovo’s cultural diversity. Artists set up easels and paint their version of river and Prizren city scenes, with visitors onlooking as the work develops.
Pristina Film Festival
The Pristina Film Festival kicks off in September with a competitive showing of international movies in front of a jury of famous actors and screenings of popular films, some of which have been nominated for Academy Awards and prizes at the Cannes Film Festival.
Pristina Jazz Festival
This ever-popular event takes place annually in October/November, with international as well as local jazz musicians and singers performing at various venues across the city.
Orthodox Christmas Day
Although Islam is the major religion in Kosovo, the Eastern Orthodox traditional Christmas Day celebrations are a national holiday, giving everyone a chance to participate. Orthodox Christmas occurs in January, about two weeks after Christmas in the US, and is feted with candle-lit midnight masses, family parties, processions from the churches, gifts, and special meals.
New Year’s Day
Welcoming in the New Year at midnight on December 31 is great fun in Kosovo, with all the usual parties, fireworks, eating, drinking, and family reunions. Hotels and restaurants put on special events, and January 1 is a national holiday.