Winter Fairytale: Celebrating Epiphany in the Carpathians

Why this tour?

Epiphany (locally called «Vodokhrescha», literally «Taking baptism in the water» or «Jordan», according to the Biblical river) is one of the most important events in the series of Ukrainian winter holidays. They last from the end of December till the end of January, combining rich traditions of both Orthodox and Catholic Christianity with the echoes of pre-Christian Slavic pagan beliefs. Each holiday during this winter celebration marathon has its own colorful and meaningful routine; Epiphany includes a sermon on the frozen river over a cross-shaped hole in the ice and its own set of carols. We invite you to see this peculiar tradition in the Ukrainian Carpathians among the Hutsuls - the indigenous mountain community, which cherish their authentic heritage.

4 days

250 € per person

all inclusive
on request

Tour Program

Day 1

  • Meeting point at the Ivano-Frankivsk Railway Station (9:00)
  • Kolomyya: the Museum of painted eggs
  • Lunch
  • Visits to potters, the makers of traditional Kosiv hand-made ceramics
  • Visits to masters in wool blankets weaving, traditional Hutsul craft in Yavoriv
  • Check-in to the cottage

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Verkhovyna: the Hutsul Household, Ethnography and Musical Instruments Museum after Roman Kumlyk
  • The Galieriya of Hutsul traditions and rites — museum of Hutsul traditions
  • Lunch
  • Free time
  • Holy Supper, Caroling and other Ukrainian Christmas traditions

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Guided tour to Kryvorivnya
  • Visit to the Holiday church service in the ancient wooden church in Kryvorivnya
  • Traditional Hutsul caroling
  • Ceremony of baptising Jordanian water
  • Tradition of cutting out a cross on the Cheremosh river
  • Lunch
  • Ethnography Museum of Hutsul antiquities
  • Return to the cottage and free time

Day 4

  • Breakfast and check-out
  • Vorokhta, a wooden church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin (built in 17 century) and stone Austrian-Hungarian viaducts
  • Yaremche, a guided tour to the town, Probiy waterfall and Dovbush trek
  • Return to Ivano-Frankivsk (16:00)

Price includes:

  • Bus transportation
  • Cottage (double room)
  • Breakfasts and Holy Supper
  • Guide and translation services
  • Entrance fees to the museums and handicraft demonstrations
  • Travel agency commission
  • Insurance

Price Does Not Include:

  • Meals (lunches and dinners)
  • Extra services (sauna, souvenirs etc.)

Special terms

The tour is not physically challenging, but there are some short walks and the infrastructure is not always available. Thus, we ask you to have comfortable shoes.
Please note that deep in the mountains weather is usually cold and windy, and we’ll spend lots of time outside; dress accordingly.

Sightseeing to visit

Hutsuls are one of the Ukrainian ethnic groups who inhabited the Carpathian Mountains. Living in desolate mountain areas, they preserved their long-time traditions, handicrafts and way of life. We will visit Hutsul sheep shepherds, who still keep their ancestors’ lifestyle. We will see Hutsul traditional crafts such as pottery, blankets weaving and woodcarving, and traditional Hutsul wooden architecture.
Ivano-Frankivsk is one of the smallest regional centers of Ukraine and the gateway to the Carpathians. The city was founded by the noble Polish Potockis family; it is in commemoration of Stanislaw Potocki the city was called Stanislaw until 1962. It is known for its sparkling contemporary literature tradition (Stanislaw phenomenon).
Kolomyya is one of the oldest towns on Galicia, and is first mentioned in chronicles in the 13th cent. In the medieval period was known as a salt mining center. The famous local dance and songs called «kolomyyka». The Museum of Hutsul and Pokuttya region represents the traditions and everyday life of the local population. The Museum of Painted Eggs is the one of its kind and listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Kryvorivnya is a small village in the Black Cheremosh river valley. In the XIX century, the village had a fame of the Ukrainian Athens, being a favourite summer destination for the UKrainian intellectual elites. Among them, there were Ukrainian poets Ivan Franko and Lesya Ukrayinka, and Mykhaylo Grushevsky, the first president of Ukraine in 1917-1918. Kryvorivnya has also become a birthplace for a classical novel about hutsuls and their traditions, namely «The Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors» by Mykhaylo Kotsyubynsky. Later on, the book went onscreen as a film of the same title, which was filmed in Kryvorivnya by a famous Soviet dissident director Serhey Paradzhanov. The film received high accolades internationally.
The Church Of The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin in Kryvorivnya, a complex of a wooden church and a bell tower built in the beginning of the XVIII century. It is another classical example of the wooden Hutsul sacral architecture. The church was a preaching place for the most outstanding patriarchs in the history of the Ukrainian religious life. It was always functioning even during Soviet times when most of the worship places were closed or ruined as a result of anti-religious state politics.
Verkhovyna is an administrative centre of the most desolate and elevated mountain area of Ukraine and by many it is perceived also as a center of Hutsul culture (Ukrainian poet and writer Ivan Franko described it as «Hutsul capital»). The name itself conveys the meaning «top of the mountain» or «elevated location», although until 1962, the village was called Zhabye. Due to its desolate location and difficult terrain, many authentic traditions still thrive in this area. There are no massive highways or polluting industrial productions here, making it one of the cleanest areas in Ukraine. Nowadays, Verkhovyna is a popular destination for outdoor tourism, mainly trekking and rafting on the Cheremosh river.
Kosiv is a small town known as a center of traditional Hutsul crafts, such as widely-known Kosiv ceramics, wood carving and sheep wool blankets weaving. The town grew in the Middle Ages as a place of the salt mining and trade. In the XIX-mid XX centuries, it became a famous resort and wellness center.
Yavoriv is a most famous village of blanket weavers in Ukraine. In 1967, Yavoriv blankets were a Prize-winning entry at the World Exhibition in Montreal. Yavoriv is also known as a birthplace of Hasidism, an influential branch of Judaism. In the XVIIth century, Hasidism founder Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer, most commonly known as Baal Shem Tov, lived, prayed and meditated in the caves and mountains around Yavoriv for 7 years. As the results of his spiritual searches, he started to preach his ideas which later attracted many followers.
Vorokhta is a high-mountain resort (850 m asl) and a famous center for both winter and summer sports. Zaroslyak sports base, located in Vorokhta, is a starting point for hiking route to Hoverla, the highest mountain in Ukraine. Vorokhta is also famous for its favourable climate, with low atmospheric pressure, and high amounts of ozone and phytoncides in the air. (The village was founded in the XVIIth century.)
Vorokhta Viaducts are archwall railway bridges built in the end XIX century when these territories were a part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The biggest of the local viaducts, built in 1985, is 130 m long and 65 m high. It is a famous local point of interest and one of the biggest stone bridges in Europe.
Yaremche is a low-mountain resort ashore the Prut river, on the way to Hoverla, the highest mountain in Ukraine. The town was founded in 1787. In XIX-mid XX centuries, it used to be a holiday destination for vacationers from Lviv, Krakow and Warsaw. It was also a popular mountain resort during Soviet times. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular touristic destinations in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Hutsulschyna Restaurant is an exemplary modern interpretation of traditional Hutsul wooden architecture. It was built in 1959 without a single nail, with extensive use of wood carved finish. Probiy Waterfall is a cascade waterfall on the Prut river in Yaremche with the height over 20 meters.

Accommodation

Double or twin rooms. Extra charge for single room is 40 euro.

Meals

Breakfasts and Holy Supper.

We kindly ask you to follow our rules. They are for your safety:

  • no alcohol on the road or during mountain walks
  • please stick to the tour schedule and do keep up with the group
  • please follow guide’s instructions
  • children under 16 should be accompanied by adults

Language

English
Optional — German or Polish

Additional information:

If you arrive before the tour starts, we can also offer you additional accommodation and guided tours in Lviv/Ivano-Frankivsk. Just let us know!

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