14 Aug 2013 | Kempinski Hotel Marinela Sofia

Dancing on fire

When visiting Bulgaria do not miss the chance to get closer to the century-old ritual of the Bulgarian “nestinari” who dance bare-footed on burning embers in a symbolic attempt to touch the eternal, to connect with the divine, to feel the power inspired by God. At dusk in good weather (which is a must) a huge fire is built up and locals go round it in the traditional “horo” (local round dance). Later on as the fire dies, the dancers perform under the melody of the traditional drum and bagpipe, crickets and whispering leaves, with feet moving quickly from one end of the fire circle to the other – dressed in traditional national costumes, with eyes half-closed but face magically lit, as if reflecting the fire on which they are moving. The dance performed in the square of the village comes from the depth of the soul and the spirit of Bulgarian nation and makes the air vibrant with emotion and life.


In recent years the ritual has been commercialized and the traditional fire dance can be seen in many restaurant gardens. Not unusual are cases when tourists, incredible of what they have been witnessing, join in taking quickly off their shoes and walking into the fire. Of course, this should never be done since the result can be severe burning. The prayers and trance state are believed to be helping the nestinari go through the fire without injuries.

Dancing on fire… Feet moving lightly on the hot embers while the night spreads its veil over the earth. Coming from the past and reaching to the future – to carry through the years the immortal soul of a proud nation.

We will be happy if you share with us your experience from witnessing a “nestinari” dance in Bulgaria or participating in any other interesting Bulgarian ritual!

14 Aug 2013

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