Ruse in modern times is a place of rich multiform cultural life. Most of the existing leading cultural institutions were established in the late 19th and the early 20th century: the Regional Library, Zora Reading Club, Ruse Art Gallery, Ruse Museum of History. Sava Ognyanov Drama Theatre of Ruse welcomed its first spectators in 1907. Shortly after that the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Opera, the Puppet Theatre came into existence…
Taken in general, Ruse is strongly oriented to culture and, accordingly, it is one of the major Bulgaria's cultural centres. Many of the local professional and amateur companies have found their way to European stages, have regular tours in foreign countries and participate in international festivals and reviews. We can therefore say that the stage performance companies of Ruse have already been integrated into the cultural processes of Europe.
Ruse's numerous orchestras and music events have made it greatly respected as a centre of music. The annual March Music Days International Festival is beyond any doubt the major event of the local musical life. It was started in 1961 and is the earliest Bulgarian festival for symphonic and cantata-oratorio music. For more than 40 years the festival sustains the fame of Ruse as a key centre of music and culture. Eminent world musicians have been guest performers at the festival.
The local choirs – Dunavski Zvutsi, Prof. Vasil Arnaudov and Dunavski Valni Children's Choir – have noteworthy attainments at different annual events in foreign countries.
Ruse Opera was established in 1949, and 1948 was the year when the Philharmony was formed. Those two companies were merged into the Opera-Philharmonic Society in February 1999. It has a rich repertoire and highly professional soloists, choir and orchestra; therefore, the company is actively contracted for foreign tours.
It has become a tradition for Ruse's folk companies to enthral millions of spectators in any place in the world with the fascinating Bulgarian rhythms, costumes and dances. Nayden Kirov Folkdance Theatre and the children's groups Ruschukliyche, Zdravets, Zornitsa and Kukeri are regularly invited to numerous festivals to demonstrate their professional performance of entrancing dances.
The traditional Ruse Carnival is on 21 June, in the period of the big Christian celebration of the nativity of St. John the Forerunner. Two processions of carnival "armies" march across the town and meet in the central square to inaugurate the puppet of their King Cuckoo. It is ritually cremated on the last Carnival day in order to resurrect in the following year.