July Morning, the celebration of the rising summer sun on the morning of 1 July every year, surely counts among Bulgaria’s most unique holidays.
Sparked by the Bulgarian counterculture movement that existed clandestinely under socialism in the 1980s, the celebration was named after legendary rock band Uriah Heep’s hit song July Morning. Remarkably, to date the holiday retains its authentic appeal and has not been ruined by commercialization, nor has it faded away after the fall of communism.
Each year on the eve of 1 July, Bulgaria’s youth and young at heart gather in nature (whether in the mountains or at the Black Sea side) to have a party, play live music and rock through the night in anticipation of the sunrise. The steep cliffs of the scenic seaside village of Kamen Bryag are a popular gathering spot, though impromptu parties are organized throughout Bulgaria. In the capital Sofia, for example, it’s common to celebrate July Morning at 1345 metres above sea level by the Kopitoto TV Tower on Vitosha, looking east over the city towards the rising sun.
And why, you might ask? To celebrate nature, to give summer a proper kick-off and to escape from the routines of daily life, I would say.
Happy July Morning and cheers to all who feel like celebrating summer!