Almost 100 years ago, just after the official opening of the Varna’s Sea Baths in 1926 - the first SPA center in the sea town, emblematic personalities of Varna society at that time, among them the composers Pancho Vladigerov and Dobri Hristov, set the beginning of the first in the country music celebrations, which later became the biggest International Music Festival in Bulgaria. Having received national and international recognition, today the Festival is a representative forum of Bulgarian and world music and music performing art.
As a Winner of the European Audience Award 2019-2021, given by the European Festivals Association, we are dedicated to creating the festival program in 2023 at a high artistic level.
The slogan of the first organisers "to unite the best music celebrities of the country" finds its continuation and advance in the promotion of Bulgarian music culture in the policy of Festival’s programming. A number of Bulgarian works have been performed for the first time within the "Varna Summer".
The Festival has multi-genre character and includes the following modules:
Core Programme – symphony and chamber music International Summer Music Academy; Music Lab – Varna Renaissance and Baroque Music Opera and Ballet; Crossover Intermezzo – in partnership with the “Varna Summer” International Theater Festival; “Varna Summer for Kids” - series of educational concerts; Parallel Programme – exhibitions, films, conferences and others; International Symposium.
In 2023 the International Symposium will be held under the topic: Tradition and Universalism - Music at Iberian Peninsula from Renaissance to Nowadays. The Symposium will take place from 28 to 30 June in the city of Varna. Leading musicologists from Spain, Portugal, France and Austria will participate, among them Esteban Sanz, Fenando Mariano, Tomas Marco, Hartmut Krones, Ivanka Stoianova and musicians such as Frederic Audibert (F), Adrian Oetiker (CH), Lachezar Kostov (BG), Asen Tanchev (BG), Karin Bonelli (AT), Mario Gheorghiu (RO), Nina Heidenreich (DE), Ivailo Yordanov (BG), etc. The Symposium will also include 3 evening concerts on 28, 29 and 30 June in the City Art Gallery of Varna.
In 2021 "Varna Summer" International Music Festival celebrated 95 years anniversary from its establishment as the first music festival in Bulgaria, founded in 1926 in the city of Varna. In its long history the Festival has impressed with the presence of soloists, conductors, symphony and chamber orchestras, choirs, opera ensembles, ballet companies from around the world. But the ambition of every next festival programme is to present at the stage of the "Varna Summer" IMF both the renowned names of the world music culture and young artists - future stars. In 1987 the Festival became a member of the European Festival Association based in Geneva.
As a member of the European Festivals Association, "Varna Summer" International Music Festival has been awarded with EFFE label since 2015, EFFE Laureate for 2019–2021 and the European Audience Award 2019-2021.