This year I also decided to visit the event that has gained so much popularity in recent years. It turned out that the Men's Horo in Kalofer is one of the most visited events I've ever been. The city was full of people wishing to see the Ice Horo, and there was not even a place to park your car. I'm used to getting up early for such events and photoshoots, and although I was there at 6:45 am., I was one of the last to arrive. Back on the road from Plovdiv I realized that I was quite late because of the traffic jam all the way to Kalofer.
So my advice to all who want to see the Men's Horo in Kalofer is to be there at least at 6:00am. Otherwise there is no chance of finding a spot even along the river. The very place on the Tundzha river where the event is held, is the little bridge under the St. Kozma and Damyan church:
I am showing the a place because there is not much information in the internet where exactly on the Tundzha River the Ice horo ritual is hel. Of course, everyone can easily find the place following the crowd and the music when you are there, but it's good to know in advance if you decide to get ahead of crowd.
The Tundja River itself is with quite low waters and therefore, on the previous day, an improvised bridge is built to keep the water level high.
The male ice horo in Kalofer and the throwing of the cross are held every year on January 6 - Yordanovden, also known as Epiphany. These are events with more than 100 years of tradition. The belief is that everyone who enters the river will be healthy throughout the year, and the one who grabs the cross will bring luck and health to the whole house. The tradition in Kalofer is a little different, because there is no competition and the cross is always given to the youngest participant in the dance.
In the other parts of Bulgaria, the tradition of the race is preserved, and a solemn liturgy called the Holy Water is held before the competition. Here are some photos from last year's event on Maritsa river in Plovdiv:
Another different tradition for the Men's Horo in Kalofer is that first only Kalofer citizens can enter the water, singing the song Loved Vassilka, accompanied by bagpipes and drums. Only after that, the guests of the city and all the other brave people can cross the icy waters of the Tundja River.