Bring on the monsters! Time for the Slovenian Mardi Gras: Kurentovanje

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 Slovenian National Home (6417 St. Clair Ave), 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, with a 5k race and parade down St. Clair. Check out the unique celebration in our video. Na Zdravje!

Calendar of Events:

  • Sunday, February 16, 1:00-4:00 pm: “Bee” part of the Parade – Join a community parade float crafting event at the Slovenian National Home to join the community “bee hive” float. Free tickets and additional details: https://cleveland-kurentovanje.ticketleap.com/bee-part-of-our-parade/

  • Monday, February 17: Cleveland Kurentovanje partners with Dinner in the Dark and CLE Dinner Club to present a multi-course dinner featuring Cleveland-area chefs at the Slovenian National Home. Tickets are available for purchase: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/dinner-in-the-dark-slovenian-national-home-30-tickets-90537344635?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

  • Tuesday, February 18, 6:00-9:00 pm The Slovenian Cultural Fair – This night is three events in one. The first is a community involvement fair whereby local Slovenian non-profit organizations  can connect with attendees who are looking to gain involvement in the greater Cleveland-Slovenian Community. The second event is a Language Survival Crash Course conducted by Slovenian language professor, Luka Zibelnik. The Fair concludes with the introduction of two, specially brewed Kurentovanje beers by local brewers, Collision Bend and Noble Beast.  Enjoy all three at the Slovenian National Home. Free tickets and additional details: https://cleveland-kurentovanje.ticketleap.com/slovenian-cultural-fair/

  • Wednesday, February 19, 6:00-8:00 pm: Learn to Make Strudel – the quintessential Slovenian dessert! The event will be led by Ellie Omahan Rickard, owner of My Mother’s Bakery, and held at the Slovenian National Home. Tickets are available for purchase: https://cleveland-kurentovanje.ticketleap.com/strudel-making-class/

  • Thursday, February 20, 6:30-8:30 pm: Slovenian String Art – Celebrate a tradition of Slovenian craft-making by creating a fun Kurentovanje-inspired “String Art” piece. Instructor Taylor Miller of CLE String Art will lead participants of all ages in creating their choice of a Kurent Mask, a Slovenian flag, or a SLO euro oval. The event will be held at the Slovenian Museum and Archives.  All supplies for the art project will be provided. Light refreshments will be served. Tickets are available for purchase: https://cleveland-kurentovanje.ticketleap.com/slovenian-string-art/

  • Friday, February 21, 6:00 pm:  The “Kurent Jump” will kick off the weekend festivities at the Slovenian National Home. As the Kurents emerge and start their mission of scaring away winter while revelers will enjoy hearty stews, drinks and live music from the Chardon Polka Band. The event will be held in the courtyard of the Slovenian National Home. Tickets are available for purchase: https://cleveland-kurentovanje.ticketleap.com/kurent-jump/

  • Saturday, February 22: The main festival day of the 2020 Cleveland Kurentovanje will kickoff with a Second Annual 5k Kurent Dash, sponsored by Hansa Brewery at 9:30am. The day continues with a parade at Noon, and many musical and cultural performances, authentic food and drink, kids crafts, face painting, a bocce tournament, and much more! New this year at 5:00pm will be the closing ceremony (“Pokop Pusta” in Slovenian) in which the Kurentovanje festival will be symbolically “buried” until next year, thus relinquishing control of the city.  Admission to the festival is free and open to the public. Kurent 5k Dash registration is available online: https://www.hermescleveland.com/roadracing/events/kurentdash.asp