Best time to visit Ukraine

Sweet Paprika Harvest in Ukraine 2024

With the onset of fall, a small village in Zakarpatska Oblast turns into a vibrant display of red pepper garlands

Best time: late August–mid-September

Sweet Paprika Harvest
Sweet Paprika Harvest
Sweet Paprika Harvest
Sweet Paprika Harvest
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Even though paprika isn't widely used throughout the rest of Ukraine, in Zakarpatska Oblast, this spice is a must-go ingredient in any dish, from soup to meat. The paprika capital is located in two neighboring villages in Ukrainian Transcarpathia—Velyka (Great) Dobron and Mala (Little) Dobron, 25 miles (40 km) south off Uzhhorod and next to the Hungarian border. The settlements share responsibilities: Great Dobron is in charge of the sweet paprika cultivation when Little Dobron operates as pepper drying grounds. So if you visit the latter in early fall, you'll witness a spectacular harvest.

Great Dobron produces tons of sweet red pepper. The cultivar is even called Dobronska paprika or the so-called "popryga." The crop is harvested on Great Dobron's plantations by the end of summer and transported to Little Dobron. Then, the peppers are threaded one by one into garlands or placed in long and narrow nets and hung outside to dry. Nearly every household in Little Dobron is decked out in bloody red pepper garlands from late August to mid-September. When dried, the peppers are milled and powdered into the favorite spice, which is sold at local markets or exported to Hungary.

Locals say paprika pepper farming is not easy, especially when they manually water the fields during hot and dry summers. Still, the villagers don't give up on the tradition since peppers are often their main source of income, particularly for the elderly. What's more, sweet paprika has long become a local brand, celebrated at the Dobronska Festival annually in mid-September.

Practical info

When is the best time to witness the sweet paprika harvest in Zakarpatska Oblast?

The sweet paprika harvest is best seen between August and mid-September, when most of the fields are full of red peppers. During this time, the surrounding area around Little Dobron is adorned with pepper garlands, making it a fantastic sight to behold. Show more

In which area of Ukraine can we find the neighboring villages of Great and Little Dobron?

Zakarpatska Oblast, near the Hungarian border and 25 miles (40 km) south of Uzhhorod, is where you can find the neighboring villages of Great and Little Dobron, which produce tons of sweet red pepper. Locals have been cultivating and drying sweet paprika here for decades. Show more

What is the name of the cultivar for sweet red pepper, and what is its nickname?

Dobronska paprika or 'popryga' is the cultivar name for sweet red peppers that are primarily grown in Great Dobron and serve as the main source of income for many elderly villagers. The pepper's nickname is 'popryga,' as it 'jumps' in hot oil when being fried. Show more

How is the sweet paprika traditionally dried in Little Dobron?

After the red peppers are harvested in Great Dobron, they are transported to Little Dobron. There, each pepper is threaded individually into garlands or placed in narrow nets and hung outside to dry. Almost all of the households in Little Dobron feature red pepper garlands from August to September, contributing to the village's lively color display typical of the paprika festival event. Show more

What is the Dobronska Festival, and when does it happen?

The Dobronska Festival is an annual celebration of sweet paprika that takes place in mid-September. The festival is an opportunity to celebrate the crop's cultural and economic significance to the neighboring villages of Great and Little Dobron. Festivities include traditional music, dance, paprika-based cuisine and farmers' markets. Attending the festival is an excellent way to experience the culture of Zakarpatska Oblast. Show more

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Last updated:
Authors: Olha Savych