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Events and Festivals

For all the charm of traditional stonework, nothing makes the towns and villages of the Montenegrin littoral come alive like the seasonal cycle of traditional festivals that brings the whole community out in the streets.

One of the A-list events on the calendar is the festival of St Tryphon (first week of February) in Kotor, when residents from the whole Boka Kotorska (Gulf of Kotor) commemorate the martyrdom of the saint in front of his cathedral. A central role belongs to the Boka Navy, a folkloric dance troupe with ties going back to a medieval seafaring and defence organisation.

Herceg Novi shows its artistic bent in February with the comparatively newer Festival Mimoze (marionette festival) and Zimski Salon (winter salon), both going for over 30 years. Budva recalls its Venetian period fondly, meanwhile, with a string of events including the Spring Masked Ball (April) and the Budva Carnival (May). June brings the more international Budva Music Festival.

Tivat, for its part, puts on Bokeljskanoc, or “Boka Night”, in March, to promote the arts, music and cuisine of the area. For many locals, however, the fire of nostalgia burns stronger for communist Yugoslavia, prompting Tivat’s Days of Youth (a thinly disguised update on the Youth Day) on May 25, complete with a relay of baton-passing young runners.

In July and August, Kotor hosts a festival of under-water filmmaking, a summer carnival and a Boka Night of its own. Each community has its customs and way of celebrating. Gornja Lastva (Upper Lastva), a tiny village outside Tivat, holds a renowned fiesta week culminating on the first Saturday every August. Participants help to preserve local variants of Balkan circle dancing and klapa, or male “a capella” singing.

Herceg Novi rounds out the Boka-area calendar with a film festival in early August.