Kurentovanje: The holiday of spring and tradition

During the Shrovetide, the oldest Slovenian town, Ptuj, is transformed into a great carnival venue where the famous Kurenti rule. The tradition of Kurentovanje goes back more than 60 years and is one of the largest Shrovetide carnivals in Slovenia. The figure of Kurenti and their door-to-door rounds during Shrovetide have been entered on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Other traditional Shrovetide figures and masks join Kurenti in the parade and create a cheerful atmosphere in the streets and squares of Ptuj. There are plenty of reasons for you to visit the carnival and enjoy the frolicking Shrovetide celebrations. But, before you visit Ptuj, we’ll take you behind the scenes of the carnival considered one of the most picturesque in the world.

kurenti Stanko Kozel_Visit Ptuj

Who are Kurenti?

They may be scary at first sight but they have a good heart. This briefly describes Kurenti, the most famous and popular Slovenian traditional Shrovetide characters, which are also the most renowned symbol of Ptuj. Their origins have roots in mythology and their main task is to chase away evil forces and invite better times into the country in the form of prosperity, a warm spring or good harvest.

The knowledge of historical facts, tradition and relationship towards the preservation of cultural heritage are the foundations of true Korenti or Kurenti. To be a Korent/Kurent means to call in the good and ward off the bad, which can only be done with kind-heartedness and pure energy.

Aleš Ivančič, Chairman of the Association of Kurent Societies on Kurenti characteristics

The door-to-door rounds of Kurenti, which are inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, start on Candlemas, 2 February, and end on Ash Wednesday. Once, they visited houses in the nearby villages in the Ptuj and Drava fields, the Haloze Hills and the Slovenske Gorice Hills, but now they end their rounds in Ptuj at the traditional Kurentovanje.

A visit by Kurenti brings good fortune all year long, unless they roll on the ground in the yard of a homestead. Korenti or Kurenti perform their demonic dance, with which they herald spring and chase away bad energy. Their dance marks a new beginning and it’s a good sign that the soil will bear plentiful produce. Locals have deep respect for Kurenti and reward them with treats. They usually give them pork meat, especially sausages, and the girls tie handkerchiefs onto their hedgehog skin-wrapped sticks as a sign of affection.

If once the rule was that only young men could dress up as Kurenti, the kurentija costume is nowadays worn by all generations, from the youngest to the elderly and even some girls and women are among them.

During the traditional Kurentovanje festivities, Kurenti have their special day, the Day of Kurent and Korant Groups, which usually takes place one week before Ash Wednesday. On that day, hundreds of feathered and horned Kurenti gather in Ptuj.

Visit website

Kurenti: scary, but nice

Learn about Kurenti in countless ways. Kurent or Korant? Scary or friendly? Both, actually. Discover the diverse face masks of Kurenti, Shrovetide traditions, customs and rituals that accompany the famous Shrovetide character who roams around Ptuj and its surroundings during the Shrovetide. In doing so, you’ll also learn about some interesting curiosities that accompany Kurentovanje in Ptuj.

Visit website

Kurenti costume

You’ll easily recognise Kurenti due to their distinctive attire called kurentija. This consists of a hat, a sheepskin suit, green or red knee-high stockings, bells attached to a chain around the belt, and a ježevka (a thick stick wrapped in hedgehog skin). Kurentija was once made from the material that was at hand on farms.

Only a few artisans make kurentija nowadays. One of them is Marko Klinc, who continues the family tradition. The beginnings of their craft go back to the early 1950s when Shrovetide rituals reached new dimensions with the development of Kurentovanje. The entire family is involved in the making of kurentija and the process has been passed on to the second and third generations and the new generation as well.

The making of kurentija is not an easy task. It takes several weeks to make one costume, depending on a client’s wishes and the natural materials available. The attire is made by hand and the price reflects that. Nevertheless, the number of orders grows every year, which testifies to the fact that Kurent’s popularity as a Shrovetide character is also growing.

When making Kurent’s attire, the experience and knowledge gained over time and through generations count the most. Craftsmanship skills and a sense of working with natural materials are also important.

Marko Klinc, master of kurentija making

To wear kurentija or korantija is quite a challenge, as the costume may weigh more than 40 kg, depending on the size and type of bells, fur density and the weight of the different materials. But a true Kurent wears it with pride.

To put on korantija means to me a celebration of life. To be a herald and worshipper of the good is a life’s mission.

Aleš Ivančič, Chairman of the Association of Kurent Societies

Feel Slovenia the Podcast: Slovenia's Good Demons: Kurentovanje in Ptuj

princ karnevala

Prince of the Carnival

It is customary in certain towns in Slovenia for Shrovetide characters to take over municipal authority until Ash Wednesday. Only symbolically, of course. During the opening ceremony of Kurentovanje, the Prince of the Carnival receives the keys of the town from the Ptuj mayor. A new prince is voted in every second year on St Martin’s Day, 11 November. But not everyone can become the prince. This position is only reserved for those who have proven themselves in the social and cultural fields and significantly contributed to the visibility of Kurentovanje and Shrovetide tradition in Ptuj. Every prince also assumes the role of a certain historical figure and is dressed accordingly.

The honorary function of the Prince of the Carnival is currently held by Marko Šamperl, who has been involved in the tradition of Kurentovanje in his village of Spuhlja and Ptuj for more than 30 years. His father was already active in the local Kurent society and Marko’s son Urban is also continuing this tradition. Šamperl is honoured and proud to be the Prince of the Carnival, so as to continue the tradition, ethnological heritage and Ptuj Shrovetide customs. He sees the role of the Prince of the Carnival as a connecting link of the celebrations. Šamperl describes his character of Francesco Guffante as a man who has been thankful all his life to have been able to rise from a humble boy to a town judge with his own hard work. His story could serve as an inspiration to many people.

Although, the Prince of the Carnival is a master of protocol at central Shrovetide events and an ambassador of Kurentovanje, you can venture with him on the carnival wanderings around Ptuj.

Welcome among Kurenti and other Shrovetide characters in Ptuj!

It all begins on Candlemas, when it’s time for Kurent’s jump. By the light of a fire at midnight, Kurenti put on their bells and symbolically begin chasing away the winter. Numerous parades, Shrovetide promenade, displays of ethnographic characters, concerts, masquerade balls, exhibitions and other events take place at EtnoFest, ArtFest and CarnivalFest within the framework of Kurentovanje.

Attend Kurentovanje in Ptuj!

Kurent House: in the company of Kurenti throughout the year

Meet Kurent interactively any time of the year. Visit Kurent House, where you can feel, see and hear about the special energy radiating from Kurent or Korant. With the help of modern technology, you’ll be able to fully experience the cultural heritage, tradition and customs linked with Kurenti, including at the time when Shrovetide celebrations end. Until 2029, Kurent House enjoys the honorary patronage of the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO.

Visit Kurent House

Experience Shrovetide joy in Slovenia

Although Kurenti are the most iconic carnival figures in Slovenia, they are certainly not the only ones who attract visitors to Ptuj and elsewhere. Learn about Laufarji from Cerkno, Škoromati from the Brkini Hills and other ethnological figures and check out which Shrovetide carnivals you should visit in Slovenia. And don’t forget, Shrovetide is also the time when you can spoil your taste buds with traditional Shrovetide delights.

Shrovetide masks to be found in Slovenia

See the unique ethnographic Shrovetide characters that chase away the dark forces and winter and call for spring. They are usually made of natural materials that were available in certain areas. Numerous characters reflect social developments and mutual relationships and it is interesting to see how certain ones remain “evergreen” or are always topical.

More

Shrovetide masks to be found in Slovenia

Shrovetide masks to be found in Slovenia

See the unique ethnographic Shrovetide characters that chase away the dark forces and winter and call for spring. They are usually made of natural materials that were available in certain areas. Numerous characters reflect social developments and mutual relationships and it is interesting to see how certain ones remain “evergreen” or are always topical.

More

Shrovetide customs worth experiencing

Shrovetide customs worth experiencing

Weighing on Fat Thursday, drawing of a log through a village where no girl got married during the pre-carnival period, door-to-door rounds in villages and towns, carnival parades, the burial of Pust, a stuffed Shrovetide character, on Ash Wednesday, and other special rituals typical of certain regions are integral parts of Shrovetide celebrations in Slovenia.

More

Largest Shrovetide carnivals

Largest Shrovetide carnivals

Parades of masks are organised in numerous towns on Shrovetide Saturday or Sunday, which may be further enriched with an accompanying programme in certain towns. Visit the largest Slovenian Shrovetide carnivals which combine traditional ethnographic figures and more contemporary masks.

More

Delicious Shrovetide and Lent dishes

Delicious Shrovetide and Lent dishes

Shrovetide in Slovenia is considered a time of abundant temptingly indulgent food, including roast and fried meat dishes, pork sausages and doughnuts. People are allowed to indulge in good food during Shrovetide, which is then followed by fasting during Lent. But Lent dishes in Slovenia are also delicious.

More

Doughnuts or "miške" dough balls: try making both

Doughnuts or "miške" dough balls: try making both

Fried delicacies are typical of Shrovetide in Slovenia. Doughnuts are the most popular, but Slovenians also make flancati, bobi and miške dough balls. If you wish to prepare Shrovetide delicacies in your own kitchen, check out two recipes for delicious doughnuts or less demanding miške balls.

More

Where to celebrate Shrovetide in Slovenia

In addition to Kurentovanje and other fascinating carnivals, you can also mix with the crowd of Shrovetide masks in other Slovenian towns. Check out the selection of Shrovetide events and dance with masks to welcome the spring.



Explore the cultural heritage of Slovenia

A visit to Kurentovanje and other carnivals can be made even more enjoyable with an exploration of cultural and ethnological heritage. Discover cultural treasures, the UNESCO heritage, take a walk in lively towns steeped in history and learn about the interesting customs and rituals of Slovenians.

Ptuj

The oldest town in Slovenia, nestled between gentle wine-growing hills and the River Drava.

Ptuj

Ptuj

More

Ethnological festivals

Learn about life as it once was and as it is now at the most well-known ethnological festivals.

Ethnological festivals

More

Culture

Slovenia boasts a rich cultural tradition.

Culture

More

Top experiences of historical towns for families

Historical towns invite you to take part in fun family events.

Top experiences of historical towns for families

More

Slovenians for a day – interesting facts, habits, traditions

Learn about the people of Slovenia and their customs and traditions.

Slovenians for a day – interesting facts, habits, traditions

More

Explore the world of Slovenian myths and legends

Discover the most famous myths and legends of Slovenia.

Explore the world of Slovenian myths and legends

More

UNESCO World Heritage

Slovenian treasure troves of world heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

UNESCO World Heritage

More

Galleries and museums

Museums and galleries in Slovenia – a treasure trove of art from prehistoric times until today.

Galleries and museums

More

Stories from Slovenia

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive a green piece of Slovenia in your inbox, and learn about holidays, seasonal offers, upcoming events and travel options.

Share with friends