They’ve been hosting Kurentovanje festivals in Slovenia since 1960, but the fun only made its way to Cleveland five years ago. The 10-day pre-Lenten festival, which has spread throughout Eastern Europe and beyond, famously features elaborately costumed Kurents, who endeavor to scare off winter and help to usher in spring.
(koo-rahn-toh-VAHN-yay), held annually since 2013 in the St. Clair-Superior neighborhood, is expanding its duration and number of offerings this year. Originally a one-day affair with parade, food and entertainment, this year’s festivities will extend to nearly a full week of events, meals, parties, exhibits and, ultimately, the parade.
The events begin on Monday, February 20th with a special joint edition of Dinner in the Dark and CLE Dinner Club. The Kurentovanje-themed meal will take place at the Slovenian National Home (6417 St. Clair Ave.) and will feature a multicourse menu with Slovenian wine pairings. Tickets are $86.99 and can be purchased here
On Tuesday, February 21, the Slovenian Museum and Archives (6407 St. Clair Ave.) will open an exhibit on the historical carnival masks of Slovenia. The exhibit will explore a wide variety of traditional masks and their origins and meanings. This exhibition is on loan from the Slovene Ethnographic Museum, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Admission is free.
On Friday, February 24th, the “Kurent Jump” will kick off the weekend festivities at Goldhorn Brewery (1361 East 55th St.). This, traditionally, is the first time that the furry Kurents appear in public, covered head to toe in plush sheepskin and clanging bells. Visitors will enjoy free tours of the new brewery, a complimentary beverage, and live entertainment. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchased here
The big parade will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 25th. A full day of activities is planned, beginning at the Slovenian National Home. The parade steps off from Sterle’s Country House at noon, with marching bands, dance troupes, polka peeps and everybody else making their way down E. 55th to St. Clair, returning to the Slovenian National Home. There, attendees will enjoy food and drinks, ice carving demonstrations, bocce and live entertainment on covered and heated outdoor stages.