The Slovenian Mardi Gras: Kurentovanje brings out the monsters

A week-long celebration of Spring, Kurentovanje is the "Slovenian Mardi Gras". Held in Cleveland, you can expect beer, music, food and the mythical beasts: the Kurent!

You hear the cracking of whips, the clanging of bells, as huge hairy beasts come around the corner. There’s no need to panic, it’s just the Slovenian celebration of Spring: Kurentovanje.

Pronounced “Koo-rahn-toh-VAHN-yah”, think of Kurentovanje like a “Slovenian Mardi Gras”. A week-long celebration held at the start of March, this cultural festival originated in the 1950’s as a parade featuring men dressed as the Kurent: fur-covered, bell-laden mythical monsters.

Cleveland’s festival is organized by the volunteer-run organization The Slovenian Museum & Archives since 2013. Activities include craft-making classes, multi-course dinners, and even lectures on how to apply for duel Slovenian citizenship. The week culminates in the “Kurent Jump” on Friday night. Held at the historic Hermit Club, the night includes live music, traditional food and, of course, plenty of beer. The highlight of the night is the emergence of the Kurent, who dance around a bonfire, accompanied by whip-crackers who keep the beasts in line.

The next day brings a continuation of the previous nights food and festivities at the Slovenian National Home (6417 St. Clair Ave), with a 5k race and parade down St. Clair. Check out the unique celebration in our video. Na Zdravje!