AV Choral Events: BULGARIA

At a glance

After an exciting and very successful event, where the participating choirs have moved the Bulgarian audience and performed at very high quality, the 12th International Choir Festival of Gabrovo and the 12th International Choir Competition “Antonio Vivaldi” will be organized between June 23 and June 25, 2023 in Gabrovo Bulgaria. The AV International Choral Event in Gabrovo is being organized in collaboration with the Municipality of Gabrovo and the Aprilov Palaouzov 1861 Community Center in Gabrovo.

The extraordinary mountainous landscape, the short distance to the old capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, in combination with the high quality accommodation services offered in the city of Gabrovo, pave the way for a lifetime choral and tour experience in the geographic heart of Bulgaria. The long culture of the Bulgarian people in Choral music, combined with the spontaneous and pure in nature Bulgarian audience guarantee the great success of the AV Event in Bulgaria.

The festival requirements and competition rules for participating in the AV Choral Events BULGARIA are the same with the ones required to participate in the AV Choir Competition Event in Karpenisi.

Festival Requirements
Competition Rules

Deadline for applications : April 10, 2023


Over the past few years, the AV Choral Event in Gabrovo has welcomed excellent choirs from Greece, Lithuania, Cyprus, Poland, Bulgaria, and Singapore, including the following ones:

-Padjadjaran University Choir, Bandung City, West Java – Indonesia (2022, 1st prize winners in Mixed and Folk Choirs categories)
– Chamber choir “VOX ANIMAE”, Riga – Latvia (2022, 1st prize winners in Chamber Choir category, 2nd prize winners in Sacred Category)
-Golden Gate Choir, San Francisco Bay Area of California – USA (2022)

-The Choir of Varna Teachers, Bulgaria (2022)
– Mixed Adult Choir “Thamiris” (2019)
– Mixed Chamber choir – Community Center “Razvitie – 1869” (2019)
– Mixed Choir “Aprilov Palaouzov”, Gabrovo – Bulgaria (2019)
– Mixed Choir “Sevtopolis”, Kazanlak – Bulgaria (2016)
– Chamber Choir of Bulgarian Academy of Science, Bulgaria (2016)
– Mixed Choir of the Cultural Association “Ermis” Aradippou, Cyprus (2016)
– Female Choir “Liepos”, Vilnius – Lithuania (2016)
– Sveta Paraskeva Academic Choir at the National Academy of Art, Sofia – Bulgaria (2015, 1st prize in the Mixed Choirs category)
– The Francophone Choir “Choralia“ of Thessaloniki – Greece/France (2015)
– The Italian Choir ‘InCanto’ of Thessaloniki – Greece/Italy (2015)
– Cantilena Choir, Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria (2015)
– Mixed Choir “Aprilov Palaouzov”, Gabrovo – Bulgaria (2015,2022)
– The Children of Sevlievo, Sevlievo – Bulgaria (2014, 1st prize and money trophy in the Folk Choirs Category)
– Mixed Choir “Tsarevets” – Community Center “Nadezhda 1869” – Veliko Tarnovo (2014, 3rd prize in the Mixed Choirs Category)
– Polyphonic Choir of Thessaloniki, Greece(2014)
– Mixed Chamber choir – Community Center “Razvitie 1869” – Dryanovo, Bulgaria (2014)
– Catholic Junior College Choir – Singapore (2013, Master Conductor prize, 1st prize in Category C’, 1st prize in Category F’)
– Mixed choir “Rodna Pesen” at “Zarya” community centre – Haskovo, Bulgaria (2013, 2nd prize in Category A’)
– Mixed Choir “Aprilov Palaouzov”, Gabrovo – Bulgaria (2013)
– Cantilena Choir – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (2013)
– Women’s Choir of the Musical Club of Larissa, Larissa– Greece (2012, 3rd in Category B’, 2nd in Category E’)
– Gabrovo Voices, Gabrovo – Bulgaria (2012)
– Mixed Choir ‘Nikolay Giyaurov’, Velingrad – Bulgaria (2012)
– ‘Tarnovgrad’ Femal Choir, Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria (2012, 2nd in Category E’)
– Anatolia College Alumni Association Choir, Thessaloniki – Greece (2011)
– Chamber choir “Eufonica”, Tryavna – Bulgaria (2011)
– Mixed choir “Petko Stainov”, Kazanluk – Bulgaria (2011)
– Mixed Choir of the Music Association of Agrinion “ORPHEUS”, Agrinio – Greece (2011, 2nd Prize in Category A’)
– Mixed Choir of the Pneumatic Center of the Municipality of Aghia Paraskevi, Athens – Greece (2011, 3rd in Category A’, 2nd in Category E’, 2nd in Category F’)



Gabrovo municipality is located in Northern Bulgaria, in Gabrovo micro region. The municipal centre is situated in the northern mountain-spurs of the middle parts of the Balkan, in the picturesque valley of Yantra river. Its historical start was in the Middle Ages as a strategic settlement near the Balkan passages. The legend says its establisher was Racho Kovacha (Racho the Blacksmith). Thanks to being close to the ancient capital Turnovo and the Balkan passages, in the end of XII century many smithies and armories emerge in the settlement, trade is developed.

The name of Gabruva is known since 1430, and it was in XVII century when it was written Gabrovo. The hornbeam (Gabar in Bulgarian), gave the name of the today town – it was announced such in 1860. It was still in the slavery years Gabrovo was already a big crafts and commercial center. In XIX century 26 crafts were to be found there – blacksmithing, cutlery, pottery, braiding, furriery, silk-warm breeding. In 1882 Ivan Kalpazanov built the first textile factory. In the 70’s of the XIX century Felix Kaniz calls it “a big workshop” and the people of Gabrovo are proud to say they live in Bulgarian Manchester.

Bright and ingenious in spirit, in 1835 the Gabrovians open the First Bulgarian non-clerical school – today the Aprilov high school. Generations of teachers and students, followers of the renaissance tradition are proud to bear the name of the donor of the school – Vasil Aprilov. One can see The National Museum of Education and the Aprilov high school where a lot of famous Bulgarians studied /Aleko Konstantinov, Emanuil Manolov/. The Bayov Bridge, built in 1855, The Assumption Church – 1865, and the clock tower /1835/ are masterpieces of Bulgarian Revival architecture, woodcarving and icon painting. It is interesting to see the cobblestone Opalchenska Street and the ancient commercial Radetska Street.


The symbol of Gabrovo is the monument of Racho Kovacha – the legendary founder of the town. Because of their proverbial thriftiness, gabrovians put it on a rock in the river. There is an Observatory (tel.: 808 234, working hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 – 17.30 after a pre-request) and a zoo in the direction of the Gradiste locality, 3 km from Gabrovo. From there one can admire the panorama view over the town and see the remains of the Early Byzantine Fortress Gradishte. The Uzana locality is a mountain resort situated at the largest meadow of Stara planina. The region is attractive in winter with its ski-runs lifts and motor sleighs; and in summer – with meadows of flowers and berries. There is also the geographic centre of Bulgaria marked with special sign. Twenty-two km from Gabrovo is the historical Shipka peak with the Freedom monument. To the East is the Buzludzha peak that entered Bulgarian history with the heroism of Hadzhi Dimitar to whom Hristo Botev wrote a poem.

The Sokolski Monastery “The Assumption” was created with donations in 1833 about 12 km from the center of Gabrovo. In the years of slavery the holy temple gave shelter to the Apostle Vassil Levski, the detachment of Captain Dyado Nikola; a detachment of 220 rebels lead by Tsanko Dustabanov started there its way to eternity; during the Liberation war its was turned to a hospital. A humble museum collection keeps evidences of the disobedient and thirsty for knowledge spirit of the local people.The Monastery was built on a vertical wall, there is an eight-wall stone fountain made by Kolyo Ficheto that still slakes the thirst of passengers. The church is an amazing creation of the church revival architecture and icon painting.

Fifteen kilometers from Gabrovo is the Bozhentsi Architectural and Historical Reserve (tel.: 066/ 804 462). The village offers possibilities for recreation in a preserved atmosphere of the past. The recreation places are houses restored from the XVIII and XIX centuries that have kept their comfort and charm – wooden balconies, fireplaces still adapted to the modern requirements. Bozhentsi is a village of centenary history – more than 600 years. Its origin is the legend about the boyar woman Bozhana who took her sons and brothers out of the ashes of the burnt capital Tyrnovgrad 6 centuries ago. They came amidst the hundred-year-old forests and built a village that still bears her name.Out of the old rich village with more than 1000 houses and inhabitants – merchants, traveling around the world – today only a few local people live and the unique 100 houses aged about 200 years. In 1964 the village is announced an architectural – historical reserve. and its few inhabitants keep it alive devotedly.

Location and Access

Gabrovo is a popular place for tourism due to the fact that it is one of the cleanest, most formidable and friendly places in Bulgaria. It is also well known for its hospitality and its remarkable landscapes, mountains and rivers. Its favorable geographical location, at the geographical center of Bulgaria, makes it possible for Gabrovo to provide quick connections to airports, river ports and seaports across the country. Convenient roads connect the Gabrovo Municipality to many surrounding municipalities and towns.

Own bus/car: Gabrovo is at an intersection point of two of the national arterial thoroughfares, which are of great significance to the European road network, i.e. road E-85 as part of the trans-European transport corridor № 9 (Helsinki – St. Petersburg – Kiev – Bucharest – Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo – Gabrovo – Dimitrovgrad with deviations to Greece and Turkey) and Hemus Motorway Sofia – Varna. Indicative distances from major cities: Sofia – Bulgaria (220km – 3hours), Plovdiv (150km – 3hours), Thessaloniki – Greece (600km – 7 hours), Bucurest – Romania (230km – 3 hours), Belgrade – Servija (500 km – 7 hours), Scopje – FYROM (450km – 6 hours), Constantinopole – Turkey (500km – 6 hours).

Community bus: Regular daily buses connect Gabrovo with most of the other major cities in Bulgaria, including Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Rousse and others. These may be dedicated lines, serving only Gabrovo and the other city, or Gabrovo may simply be one stop among many.

Train: Gabrovo may be accessed through a railroad spur at an intersection with the European railway line C-E 95 (which runs north-south) in the small village of Tsareva Livada. Stops on the mainline to the north include historic Veliko Turnovo and the major transport hub of Gorna Oryahovitsa and stops to the south include the mountain villages of Tryavna and Raduntsi and the city Stara Zagora on the southern side of the Balkan Mountains. The spur line from Tsareva Livada runs several times a day, though there are sometimes two hours layovers at the Tsareva Livada railroad station between the Gabrovo train and trains running on the main north-south line.

Plane: There are no airports in Gabrovo or the neighboring cities of Kazanluk or Veliko Turnovo. However, arranging transport by bus or train from one of the Bulgarian cities with an airport to Gabrovo is relatively simple. Gabrovo’s distance from Bulgarian airports: Sofia – 220 km, Varna – 274 km, Bourgas – 234 km, Plovdiv – 150 km, Gorna Oryahovitsa – 60 km.