Welcome to our latest video series, Rerouted: The Balkans, which sees social media influencer and YouTuber Eva zu Beck discover the cultures, customs and traditions of Eastern Europe.
Eva takes us off-the-beaten-track on a road trip through Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania.
We meet the wonderful Balkan people bringing a modern twist to ancient traditions and travel through pristine, untouched landscapes.
You might not have planned to visit these countries before but one thing’s for sure - they’re about to become top of your travel bucket list.
On Eva’s first stop on her Balkan road trip, she meets some of the ugliest characters you’re ever likely to see. But it’s all for a good cause.
Kukeri is a carnival for monsters. A centuries-old Bulgarian tradition where people dance through the streets in scary masks, animal skins and loud bells.
“When you feel the sound of the thousands of bells in the street, it gets rid of all the negative energy from your body. All you can see is the joy in other people's eyes,” says Ivanka, one of the organisers. “It gives you the feeling that this tradition is very much alive and present in Bulgaria. All the Kukeri are part of my big family. This is what I do, this is my life.”
The aim is for the creations to be so grisly and grotesque they scare away any evil spirits that are lurking around.
Eva is initiated into the world of Kukeri by a group, who take part in the annual festival.
She’s quickly transformed into a monster worthy of scaring off even the scariest of spirits.
Later she meets Deyan, who spends his weekends creating Kukeri masks, as a way to unwind from work.
Watch the video above to see Eva transformed into a Kukeri monster.