Villagers in western Bulgaria donning large, frightening masks depicting mythical creatures took to the streets Wednesday, in an age-old Orthodox New Year carnival believed to ward off evil spirits.
The traditional Kukeri dancers banged drums and shook loud copper bells around bonfires in the villages of Svetlya and Kosharevo, some 60 km (37 miles) west of the capital Sofia.
The ritual is believed to date back to pagan times and has been handed down from generation to generation.
The folk feast known as "Surva" or "Surova" is on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and health authorities in Bulgaria allowed locals to pursue their tradition this year despite the coronavirus pandemic.
However participants were required to follow anti-virus measures so instead of their scary animal masks, many participants wore surgical-style face masks.