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Ethno-Tour & Balkan Dance Festival in Opoja, Kosova 

With Anthropologist & Dance Ethnologist, Janet Reineck

July 19 – 29, 2023

Nestled in the Sharr mountains of southwest Kosova, near the Macedonia and Albania borders, lies a beautiful region called “Opoja” [pronounced OH-po-ya]. Very few outsiders have ever been there to experience its expansive beauty or the roots of ancient Albanian culture that still echo there. 


Something very special happens in Opoja every summer: a 3-day folkdance festival in the village of Bresanë that is attended by Albanian dance groups and enjoyed by the local community. This year, for the first time, the festival is expanding its scope, bringing in groups from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Northern Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine! We'll have a wonderful time not only watching these groups, but getting to know the dancers and enjoying Albanian hospitality with them. (The festival was just confirmed on May 11th, that's what I was waiting for before announcing the trip.)


I lived in Kosova for eight years, researching Albanian culture in the 1980s and doing humanitarian aid in the 1990s. I was most drawn to Opoja, which became my home in Kosova and the focus of my dissertation research. With the Bresanë festival taking on this exciting new dimension, I feel compelled to invite a small group of Balkan enthusiasts to join me there. That’s why I’m organizing an Ethno-Tour in July: an exciting experience of Albanian tradition, Balkan dance, and beautiful alpine vistas. 


This will be an inaugural adventure, the first-of-its-kind in Kosova, a journey of discovery into a little-known region with a rich cultural heritage and untouched natural beauty. I know Opoja well, I know its people and they know me, and I can guarantee a bounty of enriching experiences and an avalanche of hospitality from a community VERY happy to welcome us! 

Please fill out this form if you are interested in the trip, 2023 or 2024


July 19 – 29, 2023 (activities start in Kosova on July 19th, last day of activities on the 28th, depart on the 29th)

Note: You can also join us for PART of the trip if you're going to be in the region. This could be a good trip to combine with other European destinations this summer. Greece and Macedonia are nearby and beautiful beaches await on the Albanian coast...


The cost of the trip is VERY reasonable - you're just paying for hotel, food, and transport. We're able to keep expenses low by having a home-base at one hotel, with outings in the local community and nearby destinations, lots of hospitality from the local people. I'm not looking to profit from the trip.



We’ll be staying at the lovely N'Bjeshkë [In the Mountains] Hotel in a place called Guri i Zi [The Black Rock].



Albanian Traditions

  • Traditional Albanian meals with friends

  • Evenings in the oda (sitting room), singing with çifteli and def

  • Picnics with Albanian specialties

  • Attending a traditional wedding 

  • Cooking classes - learn to make spinach pita from scratch, fli, roasted peppers...

  • Walking, hiking, picnics

  • Visit a shepherd and his sheep, see dairy products being produced

  • Visit to the village of Bellobrad 

    • An amazing old mill few people have ever seen, with a lumber mill, grain mill, and shkeltore (two giant hammers that pound wool into felt for the traditional costume) all powered by the village stream

    • Cheese-making – the famous Sharr sheep’s milk cheese coveted by Kosovar


Folkdance Festival – July 20, 21, 22

  • Three nights of performances

  • Activities with visiting dance groups

  • Albanian dance workshop


  • Prizren - Picturesque historic town at the foot of the Sharr mountains

  • Letnica - Visit to the Church of the Blessed Lady where Mother Teresa began her life of religious devotion

  • Has - Fascinating ethnographic region

  • Rugova Gorge - Spectacular scenery


To learn more about Kosova, see my memoir, available as a PDF here: "An American Woman in Kosova"

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