Hoteni Maramures, & The Tanjaua

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Every May, the Tânjaua or Tanjaua (the spring ploughing festival), is held in the village of Hoteni in Maramures Romania. The villagers, in traditional summer costumes, process and leap through the village of Hoteni to glorify the first ploughing of the fields. It’s something not to miss in Maramures and a great excuse to visit this part of the world. The festival is colourful, loud, culturally unique and something every dedicated traveller must see in their lifetime. It happens in spring, so book your flight, hire a car, find a wonderful local pensiune or hotel and get yourselves to Maramures, Breb, Hoteni or surrounding areas in Romania.


This post covers Honeni, places to stay in Hoteni and nearby, with pictures from the Tânjaua and the village.

Young men in summer costume leading the tanjaua procession. But don’t think they walk in a straight line, that would be far too dull.

Video from the Spring Tanjaua Festival in Hoteni Romania

I’ve heard that every village had a tanjaua in days gone by.  I’ve also heard that Sat Şugatag and Hărniceşti still have their own, but the one we know is Hoteni and we’ve caught the festival these last 2 years.

Hotni church
The traditional wooden church in Hoteni town

Will we make it again this year? We don’t know yet, but we hope so, if so we’ll bring you more photos and video.

Breb Village Band at Hoteni Ploughing Festival
The Breb village band joins the procession. The guy with the drum runs the village shop / pub and he and his fellow musicians have entertained us on many an evening around the Village Hotel campfire. Notice that he hits his cymbal with a screwdriver, always does.

My Romanian is not good, I’m learning very slowly, but I’ve tried to find out as much as I can about the Tânjaua to share with you. Apologies if I get anything wrong, I’m doing my best.

Why is the Hoteni Ploughing Festival Held?

Whipping the yolked ox-men as they refuse to cooperate on the road leaving Hoteni. Notice whip-guy’s shoes. Some villagers still wear these leather shoes with knitted wool socks on Sundays. I’ve even seen a few older people wearing them to work in the fields in winter, swapping leather for old car tyre rubber. The wool will have come from village sheep, they’re shearing them in Breb during April.

I’ve read that the festival celebrates the first man to plough his field after spring frosts recede, he will be honoured and glorified as a hard worker.

Orchards in Hoteni

The descriptions we’ve read online don’t actually match with what we’ve seen, probably because we’ve walked ahead of the procession rather than seeing what’s going on further down the line.

Update : We now have seen this part of the parade, see photos below.

We’ve not seen the celebrity-of-the-day seated on a tileguţă (small carriage) being pulled by the young men of the village, but this is apparently what happens.

Our hero tries to escape, he legs it, as the procession makes its way over the hill. He is always caught. We haven’t seen this, but next time we’ll be looking out.

What we have seen is teams of men, in pairs, carrying the tânje that are decorated with leafy branches, flowers, cloths and ribbons.  You’ll see this in the pictures on this page.

It looked to me as if the men were pretending to be farm animals, carrying the yolk and pulling the plough, as they jostled their way out of Hoteni and up the hill to the fairground site at the back of Ocna Sugatag.

It’s forward a little, backward a little, as the teams of men and boys laugh and run through the street. One man will have a whip and pretend to whip his men – oxen to keep them in line.

At the fair you’ll find music, dancing, plenty of street food, candy floss and a few fairground rides for the kids. As with every special event, the local spirit, tuica, horinka or palinka, is a player along with beer stalls. Grab a drink and a plate of mici, mustard and bread and enjoy the party atmosphere.

Weather in May in Breb, Hoteni and Maramures

It should be hot and sunny around the time of the ploughing festival. Winter seems to end suddenly in Breb every year. One minute we’re skiing, the next enjoying daytime temperatures of 20ºC plus. It could even be hot.

Sudden thunder storms and downpours can happen though, but generally spring and summer are hot , long and fabulous. There may still be some snow on top of the mountain.

Where to Stay In Hoteni Romania, and Nearby

Our favourite place in Breb, the next village, is The Village Hotel. It’s a stunning spot and Penny, the owner and our friend, will look after you well. She speaks English (as she is English) as well as good Romanian and can help you with everything you need to know. 

Find the best deal on The Village Hotel Breb, find them here on Trip Advisor. They are in Breb, Maramures, to the north of Transylvania, if their listing confuses you. At some other hotels and pensions in the area you may come up against a language barrier.

It’s rare and refreshing to find language difficulties as you travel. We think it’s rather nice that they still exist in this almost unspoiled and deeply traditional part of the world.

We are not in any way short of accommodation options up here in Maramures, Breb has a hostel, campsite, houses to rent and pensions. Other villages are offering more and more accommodation to visitors as time goes on.

Find all Breb accommodation here. Ocna Sugatag is nearby and is famous for its natural salt swimming pools, find all Ocna Sugatag accommodation here.  Even Hoteni itself has some accommodation options, see here. I’d book as early as possible, people come from all over the world to see our festivals, but you may still be in luck.

Maramures Romania the Hoteni Ploughing Festival

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Getting to Breb and Hoteni Romania

It’s usual to fly into Cluj Napoca airport for Breb and Hoteni. Wizz Air flies from Luton and Doncaster in the UK. At Cluj Napoca you will either need to hire a car (which is very cheap in Romania) or catch the bus up to Baia Mare. Alternatively take the sleeper train from Bucharest to Sighetu Marmatiei, which is about 40 minutes from Hoteni by road. You can’t, as far as we know, hire a car in Sighetu Marmatiei. You’ll need to use local buses, hitch  (hitching is common with locals and no problem usually) or take a taxi. We think hiring a car is your best option. The roads are absolutely fine and even in winter free from snow.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

3 thoughts on “Hoteni Maramures, & The Tanjaua”

  1. What an amazing adventure. It’s so nice when people hold onto the culture.


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