Ptuj is the only place on Earth going through 5 seasons. The extra season is called Shrove or Pust in Slovene. It is a carnival with a special task – to bury the winter and welcome the spring that is knocking on the door. There are 3 basic features that make the real Shrove – donuts, masks, and Kurents.
Every year the Shrove starts exactly seven Sundays before Easter. The following Shrove Tuesday is so important in Ptuj, that people of Ptuj finish working at midday to join in the carefree celebration with other participants and visitors of Kurentovanje.
But the celebration of Shrove in Ptuj is not just on Sunday and Tuesday, it is a spectacular all-week long event that brings an international Carnival Parade to the streets and squares of this old historic city. Thousands of people masked as traditional ethnographic characters fill the old streets, they parade and dance for the upcoming spring. The carnival groups and satirical characters create a special and festive atmosphere.
The presentations of traditional carnival characters is the main event that revives the old city center of Ptuj in the time of the carnival. Visitors can meet Kurents in the beautiful medieval streets every day of the festival, however, these presentations bring the rituals, dances, and customs of our other well known traditional carnival characters to the spotlight. The carnival reaches its peak with the event of Kurentovanje.
Kurent or Korant, as people living in the countryside would call the mask, is the most popular and numerous traditional carnival figure. Its origin has still not been completely understood. There are some hypotheses associating it to the Illyrian and Celtic tradition, to the mythical followers of the goddess Cybele worshipped on the territory of Poetovio in the late antiquity, to the Slovene ancestors, to the establishment of Uskoks (Croatian Habsburg soldiers) in the 16th century, and many more. According to an ancient belief, Kurent is a demon chasing winter away and calling spring to the country. Although Kurent has long lost its magic power, it cannot be considered as an ordinary carnival mask, for it still inspires mystical and powerful feelings.
They can be a bit scary. They wear costumes made out of sheepskin, and big loud bells around their belt, a long black tongue hangs out of their mouth, and they wear horns with long colorful stripes.
Kurent/Korant’s jump declares the beginning of the 58th Kurentovanje. For 17 years, about 300 Kurents gather annually at this mystical midnight adventure, where they put their bells on for the first time each year. They jump around the fire and activate the sound of their loud bells as the initiation of Kurent’s main role: chasing away winter and evil spirits. This year over 700 kurents were jumping for spring.
The Carnival week is filled with different events such as Ethno parade, the Parade of darkness, Log haulers parade, Whip-crackers parade, there are also bears, fairies, cockerels, spearmen, and the bourgeois parade. The carnival is also proud of its event for kindergarteners, which is the biggest one in this part of Europe.
The Ptuj carnival is getting bigger every year. This year over 2,500 masks from 41 different groups (27 from Slovenia, and the other from France, Croatia, Czech, Serbia, Macedonia, Slovakia, and Belgium), made Ptuj the biggest outdoor ethnographic museum for a day. Ptuj offers Sava Hotel’s Terme Ptuj, where everyone who gets cold at the carnival, can get warm again. At Terme Ptuj, the carnival visitors can nourish their hedonistic side and get themselves replenished, healthy and relaxed in the warm natural thermal water. The power of water improves their mobility for the next day when they get back on the cold streets chasing the winter away.