Why you should visit a local fest on your trip to Albania

February 4, 2022
Fun Facts

Planning your trip to Albania, you will be faced with the impossible task of choosing from an incredible variety of places to visit and things to do – high mountain tops, dense forests, rolling hills, steep cliffs, sandy beaches, and the remnants of centuries of eventful history are just a few to mention. And this article will now introduce you to a whole new category of experiences to add to your itinerary: Local fests and events.

So yes, this will make your choices even more challenging. But – we promise – it is totally worth it! For one thing, most of the fests and events that are organized every year throughout the small towns and villages have been around generations. They therefore offer very authentic and intimate insights into community life, customs, and traditions. Visiting a local fest during your trip to Albania will also take you away from the most touristic sites and usher you right in with the local crowd. So, if you like to travel off the beaten path and get in touch with people, this is definitely for you! Another big plus is: It’s up to you whether you visit as a spectator, a participant or both. Besides watching things unfold around you, local fests and events also give you the chance to actively dive in, listen to music, share food and drinks, and – if you’re one of the braves – even join for a round of dancing or two. And last but not least, there is no better place to find authentic, locally produced souvenirs than at the fairs that are usually accompanying local fests and celebrations.

Which event you should ultimately pick, really depends on your travel dates and on the other things you want to see and do. But here are some suggestions:

elbasan summer day

If you plan to visit Albania in spring, you should definitely make sure to come around March 14. On this day, Dita e Veres – Summer Day, one of Albania’s most traditional holidays, is celebrated to welcome the end of winter and the beginning of the warmer seasons. Summer Day festivities take place all over the country. The undisputed centre of all celebrations, however, is Elbasan, a small city south of Tirana.

mali i tomorrit

Most smaller village fests take place throughout the summer season, when all those who have temporarily or entirely emigrated to other countries in their search for better economic perspectives traditionally return to Albania to visit friends and families. The fests provide a great occasion for residents and returning citizens to meet and catch up.

While the small village fests provide an almost intimate atmosphere to dive deep into Albanian culture and traditions, there are also larger fests taking place during the summer season. The can have both a cultural-culinary theme, such as the Korca Beer Fest, or a distinct religious background, such as the orthodox celebrations on occasion of the Day of St. John Vladimir near Elbasan, or the Pilgrimage to the Bektashi sanctuaries on Mt. Tomorr.


In fall, many fests are taking place that celebrate the harvest season of wine or olives, or mark the beginning of the Chestnut Season. Fall is also a great time to visit fests and festivals focussing on Albania’s cultural heritage. Examples are the National Folklore Festival in Gjirokaster, which takes place every five years during September, or the Oda Dibrane.


While the winter months are generally not (yet) favoured by many to visit Albania, they provide a great opportunity to get to know the country far from masses and touristic clichés. If you can make it, you should stay over New Year’s eve, when all towns and villages are heavily decorated with lights and other ornaments, and you can join the festive crowd. Also interesting to witness are the traditions around Eastern Orthodox holiday called Blessing of the Waters, which is celebrated every year on January 6.

Tip:  In your trip to Albania go with a (local) guide! While it is in general no problem to visit local fests and events by yourself, some of the most interesting ones are taking place in quite remote locations, and it can be helpful to have someone with you who knows the area and is taking care of all the logistics. Plus, it will be way more fun and interesting if you have someone who can explain to you all that is going on around you.

Written by: Julianne Zimmerman, intern at Elite Travel Group

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