In photos: Romania's 'dancing bear festival'

In photos: Romania's 'dancing bear festival'

Hundreds of years ago, people in what is now northeastern Romania would drape themselves in bear skins and dance to warn off evil spirits. The quirky custom still lives on today, drawing in tourists from around the world.

The ‘dancing bears festival’ takes place every December, starting a week before Christmas and ending with New Year's Eve.

Animal rights groups have expressed concern that the event fuels bear hunting for costumes, though participants defend it, saying that most furs are heirlooms from the past.

Euronews complied some of the most eye-catching photos from the celebration.

Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A man wears a bear fur costume while taking part in a parade showcasing winter traditions from the northeast of the country in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. - Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Youths wearing bear fur costumes pause during a parade showcasing winter traditions from the northeast of the country in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. - Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A man holds a toddler wearing a bear fur costume during a parade showcasing regional winter traditions in Comanesti, northeastern Romania, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. - Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A man holds a toddler wearing a bear fur costume during a parade showcasing regional winter traditions in Comanesti, northeastern Romania, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. - Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A couple wearing bear fur costumes kiss before taking part in a parade showcasing winter traditions from the northeast of the country in Bucharest, Romania, 18 Dec, 2022. - Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
People wearing bear fur costumes dance during a parade showcasing winter traditions from the northeast of the country in Bucharest, Romania, 18 Dec, 2022. - Andreea Alexandru/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
A man wearing a bear fur costume looks at his mobile phone in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022. - Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.