Conditions improve with spring, bringing rain and wild flowers to the mountains and the softest of blue skies over Bucharest, and prompting a great migration of birds through the Delta. By May, the lowlands are warming up and you might well find strong sunshine on the coast before the season starts in July.
Although by far the hottest time of the year, summer or early autumn is the perfect time to investigate Transylvania’s festivals and hiking trails (though brief but violent thunderstorms are common in the Carpathians during this period), and to see the painted monasteries of Bucovina, while flocks of birds again pass through the Delta in late autumn.
Festivals and holidays in Romania by month
While Romania is not particularly known for its range of festivals, there are a number of increasingly diverse events taking place throughout the country, especially in music and film. Inevitably, the cities – in particular Bucharest, Cluj and Sibiu – boast the most impressive roster of events, though there remains an excellent spread of local festivals based around strongly rooted seasonal traditions.
Aside from the main festivals listed below, there are dozens of other, more local, events taking place across the country, some of which are also described in the Guide. However, obtaining information on dates and locations for most festivals is notoriously difficult, so contact a tourist office or local agency wherever possible.
- Bucharest International Film Festival: Mid-April b-iff.ro. Now one of the Balkans’ most important film gatherings, with a terrific selection of both domestic and foreign screenings.
- Pageant of the Juni: Braşov, first Sunday after Easter. Colourful parade in which the town’s youth don elaborate costumes and ride through town on horseback, accompanied by brass bands.
- Measurement of the Milk Festival: Ciucea, first or second Sunday of May. Hugely entertaining gathering in which shepherds compete to see who has the most productive flock.
- Europafest: Bucharest, mid-May. A dynamic ten days of pop, rock, jazz and blues constitutes the capital’s foremost contemporary music festival.
- Transylvanian International Film Festival: Cluj, end May/beginning June tiff.ro. Romania’s premier film festival puts on ten days of top-quality domestic and international movies shown at the city’s many picture houses.
- International Theatre Festival: Sibiu, mid-June sibfest.ro. Wonderful open-air jamboree serving up classical, rock and world music, alongside contemporary dance, film, theatre and art.
- Girl Fair of Muntele Găina: Avram Iancu, the closest Sunday to July 20. The match-making origins of this boisterous event, taking place atop Mount Găina, have largely given way to a feast of music and dance, though it remains a hugely enjoyable spectacle.
- Medieval Arts Festival: Sighişoara, last weekend of July sighisoaramedievala.ro. Medieval Transylvania comes to life in the town’s atmospheric citadel, with street performers, open-air concerts and handicraft displays.
- Songs of the Olt: Călimăneşti, first week of August. Superb gathering of musicians and folklore ensembles from Oltenia performing in the streets of this small spa town.
- Anonimul Film Festival: Sfăntu Gheorghe, mid-August www.festival-anonimul.ro. International independent film fest with an eclectic mix of long and short films, competitions and open-air screenings, all in a delightful Delta setting.
- Transylvanian International Guitar Festival: Cluj transilvaniaguitar.ro. Brings together some of the world’s foremost guitarists, and stages competitions, lectures and workshops.
- Rowmania: Tulcea, last weekend of August rowmania.ro. Danube river races in specially designed canoes (canotca), set against a backdrop of live music, food and drink along the promenade.
- Vama Under Oscar Lights: Vama Veche, last week of August vslo.ro. Multidimensional visual arts festival encompassing principally film and photography, but also painting workshops, music and theatre, most of which takes place on Vama Veche’s lovely beach.
- Plai Festival: Timişoara, second week of September plai.ro. The “Field Festival” is three days of top-class world and jazz music, plus theatre, art, photography and literature.
- George Enescu Festival: Bucharest, every odd-numbered year festivalenescu.ro. Romania’s most prestigious festival, of any description; three weeks of world-class classical music staged in the stunning surrounds of the Romanian Atheneum.
- Sachsentreffen: Biertan, or another Saxon village, second or third Saturday of September. Annual gathering of Saxons, both from the region and those returning from Germany.
- Astra: Sibiu, mid-October astrafilm.ro. Well-established international festival of documentary film, with presentations and screenings from around the world.
- Plum Brandy Festival: Vălenii de Munte, end of October. Plum brandy producers from all over Romania gather and compete to see who has the country’s finest brew.
- Winter Customs Festival: Sighet, end of December. Ancient pagan and Christian beliefs are celebrated in this vibrant coming together of costume, street theatre and music.