Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia boasts a German-style Christmas Market this year, thanks to the efforts of the embassy, German investors and the municipality.
The German Christmas Bazaar was opened on November 27 at a ceremony presided over by mayor Yordanka Fandukova and German ambassador Matthias Höpfner.
The bazaar, in the garden across the road from Sofia University and near the Art Academy and the National Assembly, aims to recreate the atmosphere, warmth and spirit of charity traditional holiday markets in Germany.
Over the 28 days between November 27 and December 24, 22 windows in the illuminated wooden houses are being opened, as is the Advent custom, each time by a VIP or senior official.
The window-opening takes place each day at 6pm. Some of those participating in the ritual are Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, on December 6 – in Bulgaria, St Nicholas’s Day – and President-elect Rossen Plevneliev, on December 20, Игнажден, St Ignatius’s Day.
Entertainment at the market includes a puppet theatre, carousel, rollercoaster, as well as performances by children’s choirs from schools in the city, and classical music.
With the opening of the final window on December 24, by Sofia municipality director of public events Maria Bozhkova, the amount of funds raised by the charity being supported by the German Christmas Market – for food and equipment for social kitchens in Sofia – will be announced.
German investors in Bulgaria that are sponsoring the event are ABB, VMF, Allianz, DB Schenker, Balkanstar, Festo, AHK, Audi, Rollman, HochTief, Bosch, Bautech Bul, Tunkenmuler, AdCare, Europrint, Porsch-Concept, Envicom, WebDesign and Wella.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, is also hosting a Christmas Bazaar, and is making its festive season a touch greener by decorating a live tree instead of chopping one down for the few days of Yuletide.
Deputy mayor Stefan Stoyanov said that the city did not want to cut down a large tree only to dispose of it after Christmas is over.
The ceremony of switching on the Plovdiv Christmas tree lights was scheduled for December 1. The city has planned a festive programme, with singers and musicians performing every day next to the fountain near the Plovdiv municipal headquarters every day from December 15 to 31. The Christmas Market in the central square will be made up of 30 stalls – and, Stoyanov said, traders had been told to offer goods traditional for such bazaars, such as sweets, confectionery, toys and souvenirs "and not underwear, cheap clothes and slippers".
In Varna, a Christmas Market has been set up outside the Grand Mall, in the style of an Alpine village, according to local media reports. Mulled wine and cookies are on offer, and Father Christmas put in an early appearance to switch on the lights on the Christmas tree.
Organisers said that the festive programme included folk songs and dances on December 10 and 11, and "Christmas dancing" – whatever that may be – on December 17 and 18.
Details from Bulgaria’s Danubian city of Rousse were scanty, beyond that the city’s festive lights were being switched on in stages from November 20 to December 6, and that Rousse’s Christmas Bazaar, made up of 35 stalls, was due to open on December 1.
Dobrich media reported that Father Christmas made quite an entrance for the lighting of the city’s tree; because of a lack of snow, he arrived not on a sleigh but on a motor-powered tricycle. Not quite as austere as it may sound, however, because the tricycle was double-engined, powered by Chrysler and Mercedes. There was no word on the engines’ equivalent in reindeer power, nor of what Rudolf, Donner and Blitzen and the rest of the gang had to say about the matter. Either way, Dobrich has its own Christmas Bazaar in the city centre, which according to local media was organised by the regional association of bread and pastry makers and features, not unsurprisingly, a wide range of breads and confectioneries.
Several charities in the town of Shoumen have banded together to raise funds for disadvantaged families this Advent season. Kindergarten and school children have been roped in to paint Christmas cards which are being sold at the Christmas Bazaar, opening December 5. This is the fourth year that the association is raising funds, and last year earned more than 1000 leva for its beneficiaries. To donate cards for sale, contact Olga Kostova at (0899) 344 499.
The association is running other initiatives, one involving inviting children at a social home to write to Father Christmas, to which the association responds by contacting people who might be able to fulfil their wishes. The association also is organising a traditional Christmas dinner for two poor families, one that has several pensioners and the other, several children.
Haskovo’s Christmas Bazaar opened on December 1 and continues until January 8, at a location next to the municipal administration building.