Balkan Festival

Sundays at Landmark

Sundays at Landmark is a series of cultural and art events that are designed to entertain, enrich and educate an audience. The 2020/2021 season of programs will be a mix of virtual and in-person (reservation required) events. Most programs begin at 1 pm and are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

Virtual events will remain on for one month, unless otherwise noted.
In-person events require reservations ( or 651-292-3237)

Current Events


January 24-February 24: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Serbia


February 7 – March 7: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Ghana

February 21 – March 21: Balkan Fest!

Balkan Fest title card

For six years, Landmark Center and Ethnic Dance Theatre (EDT) and have collaborated to create festivals honoring some lesser-known ethnic communities that live in the Twin Cities. Starting with three years of the Carpathian Mountains Basin, and now the third year focusing on the ethnic groups of the Balkan Peninsula. We are once again excited to spotlight members of these communities, as well as EDT in this year’s Balkan Fest.

The Balkan Peninsula, a geographic area in southeastern Europe takes its name from the Balkan Mountains that stretch throughout Bulgaria. The Balkan Peninsula is bordered by the Adriatic Sea in the northwest, the Ionian Sea in the southwest, the Aegean Sea in the south, the Turkish Straits in the east, and the Black Sea in the northeast.

The term “the Balkans” is used more generally for the region with various definitions and meanings, including geopolitical and historical. The Balkans includes states in the region which may extend beyond the peninsula, and is not defined by the geography of the peninsula itself.

The countries considered part of the Balkans are Albania, Bosnia/Hercegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, N. Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. In addition to ethnic groups that identify with those countries, there were and are communities of Jews, Romani (Gypsy), Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians and others. Large swaths of this territory formed a part of the Ottoman Empire, which dissolved at the end of WW1. The political decisions of the Great Powers (the US, France and Great Britain) after that war set up many of the disputes that persist to this day.

In this festival, we celebrate the unique traditions and history of the many ethnic groups who make the Balkans their home, without making a political statement. In the Twin Cities area, we know of communities of Albanians, Bosnians, Bulgarians, Croats, Greeks, Romanians, Serbs, Slovenes and Turks. We have been privileged to get to know and learn from them over the last four and a half decades. We invite you to enjoy the music and dance, make some of the foods, try the wines, and learn about some of the unique traditions that are observed at this time of the year. 

Mirësevini! Dobrodošli! Добре дошли! Καλως ΗΡΘΑΤΕ! Добредојде! Bine ati venit! Добродошли! Hoşgeldiniz! Welcome!

Flags of the Balkan Countries title card

Explore the flags from each country – Balkan Fest Flags


Video 1: Dance and music performances by Greek Dancers of Minnesota, Ethnic Dance Theatre (Albanian), Mila Vocal Ensemble (Croatia and Bulgarian), Ethnic Dance Theatre (Croatian)

Video 2: Dunarea, Plai de Dor and Izvorasul Romanian Dance Ensembles, Ethnic Dance Theatre (Slovenian), Orkestar bez Ime (Romani), Bulgari Dance Ensemble

Video 3: TAAM Turkish Dancers, Ethnic Dance Theatre (Serbian), Nomadi (Bulgarian), Ethnic Dance Theatre (N. Macedonian)

EDT Balkan Costume Show

Costume Show title card

Midwinter Traditions

Slovenia - Ptuj - Kurentovanje: celebration of coming spring - "Kurent"s urging winter to leave - Aleš Kravos.

Slovenia – Ptuj – Kurentovanje: celebration of coming spring – “Kurent”s urging winter to leave – Aleš Kravos.

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Carnival in Ptuj, Slovenia

In Slovenia, a country with deep pagan roots, villagers scare off winter by dressing as a big shaggy creature called Kurent — a fun-loving Slavic god of hedonism.

Carnival in Naoussa, Greece

Experience the mysterious (Genitsari and Boules) during the carnival in Naoussa! Something that you will only find in this lively village in Northern Greece! A tradition that has been living on for years among the Greeks to remember the fight against the Ottoman Empire.

Carnival in Halubje, Croatia

“Zvončari” are the best guardians of folk tradition and the identity of the Halubje and the Kastav Region. They are regular participants of international “Rijeka Carnival”, the largest one in Croatia and one of the best known in Europe.

Carnival in Bulgaria

Around early winter or midwinter, groups of Kukeri don elaborate costumes—complete with fantastical masks and belts of massive metal bells—and accompany musicians throughout the village, dancing rhythmically to drive away evil and invite good.

Martisor in Romania

Celebrating March 1, a ritual for chasing away winter!

Making ritual masks in Serbia

In this video you can see the process of creating traditional Serbian masks, as a part of the wider Slavic tradition known as “Koledari”. Masked processions are one of the main elements in the customs of the winter period. Young men would march from house to house throughout the region, while carrying the bells, singing the songs and making an extraordinary amount of noise, while locals would provide them with different kinds of offerings. Their primary task is to scare away evil spirits and bring fertility to the household. In the time of winter, the cult of ancestors and cult of vegetation are particularly intertwined

History and Traditions

The Ancient Olive Trees of Montenegro:

For over two thousand years, people in the coastal region of Montenegro have produced some of the finest olive oils in the world. Driven by a passion for tradition and excellence, olive oil production has been passed down from generation to generation.

Culture in Kosovo:

Ottoman Turkish traditions kept alive in Macedonia

Villagers who hark back to the days of the Ottoman period:

Nusja Jone – Bride (Kosovo) 

See the amazing traditional face painting of an Albanian bride:

Balkan Countries-Flag Map Speed Art:

 A fascinating look at creating Bulgarian folk pottery from Troyan:

Craft Projects

Make your own Martisor/Martenitsa – Learn how to make your own martisorul for the celebration of the ancient Balkan tradition of Baba Marta on the 1st of March each year. Martenitsas/Martisorul are believed to bring health, good luck and happiness to the people who are presented by one. They should be worn until the 22nd of March, or until you see a stork or swallow. Then they have to be tied to a blossoming tree branch.

Make your own paper mask – After cutting out your mask, decorate with pompons, yarn and colored paper to look like one of the Kukeri or Kurent masks!

Favorite Balkan foods – try making at home:

Albanian stuffed peppers

Bosnian Sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls)

Bulgarian Banitsa (White cheese pie) Twin Cities Bulgarian Community

Shopska Salata, popular in Bulgaria, N. Macedonia and Serbia:

Romanian Mamaliga (polenta)

How to Make Potica (Traditional Slovenian Walnut Roll)

How to Make Turkish Pistachio Baklava

Adult Beverages

Quince rakija from Serbia in traditional Flasks – Laslovarga

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons  Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

A look at Balkan Wines

Making Šljivovica (Plum Brandy) in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Montenegrin Rakija (Fruit Brandy)

Balkan Community Churches, Organizations, Supermarkets

St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church | St. George Greek Orthodox Church | St. Mary’s Romanian Orthodox Church | St. Stefan Romanian Orthodox Church | St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church | ICBMN-Islamic Community of Bosniaks in Minnesota | Albanians in Minnesota | Croatian Hall | Croatian Cultural Society of Minnesota | Serbian Hall | Turkish American Association of Minnesota | Turkish American Society of Minnesota | Bulgarian School of Minnesota – “Saints Cyril and Methodius” | Balkanicus Institute for Balkan Art, Culture and History (BIBACH) | Heritage Organization of Romanians in Minnesota | Bill’s Imported Foods | Bosnian Turkish Supermarket

Balkan Fest Perfoming Ensembles- Where you can find them!

Bulgari Dancers | Ethnic Dance TheatreEthnic Dance Theatre Facebook | Greek Dancers of Minnesota | Izvorasul Romanian Dancers Facebook | Mila Vocal EnsembleMila Vocal Ensemble Facebook | Nomadi Bulgarian BandNomadi Bulgarian Band Facebook | Orkestar bez ImeOrkestar bez Ime Facebook | TAAM Turkish Dancers

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Upcoming Events


March 7: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Spain

March 21: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Iran


April 11: Urban Expedition Virtual Sampler – Laos

Sundays at Landmark series is supported by Ecolab, the Xcel Energy Foundation, and Ramsey County. Please give financial support for Landmark Center’s programs and activities!