The city of Lviv was founded nearly 800 years ago by King Daniel of Galicia and named for his son Lev. When Lev came to power, he chose it as his home. The city has been held at various points in history by the Polish, the Germans, and other regimes; each has left its mark on the city’s culture, but, Lviv has always also taken pride in keeping indigenous Ukrainian culture alive.
Art, music, history and culture are deeply important to the people of Lviv. One of the ways that Lviv celebrates Ukraine’s unique culture is through its many festivals. Lviv is host to over 100 festivals every year. Here are a few to check out:
The Annual Christmas Fair (January 6-21)
Just as the holiday season is tapering off in the US, it kicks into high gear in Ukraine. In Lviv, they strive to preserve Ukraine’s unique Christmas traditions. Celebrators build giant, highly-decorative Christmas stars. Residents take to the streets to carol and spread cheer.
The Lviv Doughnut Festival (January 7-9)
Who can resist a holiday dedicated to doughnuts? Pampuhs – Ukrainian doughnuts – are a traditional part of Christmas celebrations. The Doughnut Festival overlaps with Lviv’s Christmas Festival; many of the best Christmas events happen during these three days. There are dozens of Vertep performances; attendees can watch them all and choose the best. Lviv housewives engage in competition to see who makes the very best pampuhs. The festival ends with a pampuh eating contest.
The Lviv Festival of Chocolate (February 14-17)
One of the things that Lviv is known for is its many chocolate and pastry shops. The treat has been enjoyed there for hundreds of years. Lvivites consider their city second only to the Swiss city of Bern as a city of chocolate.
The Lviv Coffee Festival (September 26-29)
Lvivites love their coffee – there are nearly 600 coffee houses within the city limits. The beverage was first brought to Lviv in the late 18th century, and became central to the city’s culture. During the annual festival, locals enjoy food, drink and music, and vote on their favorite local coffee shop.
Lviv Beer Festival (May 8-12)
Beer is almost as closely associated with Lviv as coffee and chocolate. The beverage has been brewed in Lviv since a 1533 decree allowing local monasteries to become breweries, as well. During the Beer Festival, enjoy tastings of a range of locally-brewed beers, music, games and dancing.
Flugery Lvova Jazz Festival (May 9-12)
International jazz and ethno music stars and local up and coming artists perform every year at what some describe as Lviv’s most important festival. The free festival occurs every year in the very center of Lviv, allowing everyone to enjoy the unique music of Ukraine’s most artistic city. Jazz fans will have another chance to enjoy their music in the city center in December. Lviv’s annual world jazz festival, Jazz Bez, is held December 6-15.
Gastronomic Festival "Lviv on a plate" (June 28-30)
Join 1000 of your closest friends for dinner outdoors as Lviv restaurateurs present their very best dishes. The festival, which is in its second year, is already a huge hit. Last year, 20 restaurants served meals to over 5000 people over the course of the two day festival. This year’s festival will include a gala dinner, live music and more.
Night of Museums (August 16-18 and November 16-17)
Lviv is not generally known for its nightlife. The city is more reserved than places like Kiev and Odessa. However, a couple of times a year, Lviv shines after dark with its Night of the Museums events. Local museums open their doors for late-night events that include fire shows, medieval dance and recreations of famous medieval battles. Visitors can choose from around 30 different dramatic nighttime tours.
Festival of Ancient Music (October)
This music festival is the only one of its kind in Ukraine. Attendees at the festival will get the chance to hear historical vocal and instrumental music from all over Europe. Styles include opera, religious music, secular folk songs and traditional music from the people of Ukraine. This year’s festival’s main event is a performance of a rare piece from Renaissance Era Ukraine; only one copy of the sheet music exists, and it is kept in Lviv.
Lviv Street Art Festival (October)
Stilt-walkers, mimes, graffiti artists, makers of handmade goods, street musicians, living statues and other street performers gather for this spectacular festival every fall. The festival is held in the city’s Park of Culture and admission is free. Festival-goers praise this as a very modern event that makes an interesting contrast in the generally traditional old-world town.
Besides those above, there are festivals celebrating medieval battles, children’s stories, wine, cheese and more. If your special honey lives in Lviv, take some time to enjoy one of the city’s many festivals and celebrate your lady’s unique culture and history.