Slovenia's carnival capital ready for Kurentovanje
Ptuj will organise the 58th Kurentovanje after UNESCO put door-to-door rounds of the scary, sheep-skin wearing Kurents on the list of intangible cultural heritage in December.
Their rounds are a Shrovetide custom practised from Candlemas (2 February) to Ash Wednesday, and are typical of the area around Ptuj.
It is believed the noisy bell-ringing and brandishing of Kurents' wooden sticks chases everything evil, including winter, away and brings happiness to those they visit.
Carnival festivities will get under way Saturday with a parade of carnival costumes and the mayor handing over to the Carnival Prince until Shrove Tuesday, 13 February.
Saturday's parade will also mark the recognition the rounds of Kurents have been given by UNESCO, according to the chair of the organising committee, Branko Brumen.
It will feature three Kurent-like costumes protected by UNESCO - the bellmen from Croatia, Busojaras from Hungary and survakars from Bulgaria.
"By making it to the UNESCO list, we've achieved the highest level of recognition," he told the press before the festival.
"Now we have to prove we deserve it," he said, pointing to cherishing this exceptional cultural heritage and passing it onto younger generations as a strategic goal.
Turning Ptuj into the Slovenian ethnographic capital, the eleven-day Kurentovanje will feature more than 100 events, according to acting boss of Ptuj Tourist Board Monika Klinc.
Just like every year, it will culminate with an international parade in the city streets on Sunday, 11 February.
The parade will feature some 6,000 carnival figures from Slovenia and another eleven countries, and expectedly attract around 100,000 visitors.
As part of the eleven-day merry-making, visitors will be able to enjoy a number of carnival parades, art and charity events, concerts and masquerade balls.
Being a unique tourist event, the festival also promotes local food and wine, with the organisers expecting more than half a million Ptuj doughnuts to be sold.