Within the scope of FECC (Federation of European Carnival Cities) grouping more than 550 cities and carnival committees organised in 46 national boards mostly from Western Europe, the institution of Prince Carnival represents an important part of carnival tradition and protocol. Ptuj and Slovenia have been FECC members since 1991. During several years, Henry van der Kroon, FECC President, was trying to persuade Branko Brumen, who initiated FECC Slovenia and was its founding president, to install Prince Carnival, a traditional figure of European carnival cities, also in Ptuj and Slovenia. The first strategic change of the concept of Kurentovanje in 1994 provided only for the 11-day long carnival festivities and a carnival hall following the example of European cities, but not the installation of Prince Carnival, for it was decided that Kurentovanje should first build a solid base on the exceptional carnival-ethnographic-cultural heritage consisting of nine autochthonous masks of which the most well-known is Kurent.
In 1998, as a result of the newly adopted concept, “Meeting of traditional carnival figures and masks of Slovenia” was held during the opening ceremony of Kurentovanje. The inauguration of Prince Carnival was introduced to Ptuj only in 1999 for the carnival year 2000 in order to mark the 40th organised carnival event in Ptuj and the turn of millennium which thus entered the history of carnival in Ptuj.
The idea for Prince Carnival was conceived on the already existing institution of Prince Carnival in cities and countries members of the FECC, and further developed with local carnival tradition and spirit. Prince Carnival is an honourable function and European cities normally choose their princes among rich and respected citizens who live for carnivals and are at the same time willing to invest themselves and their fortune in carnival festivities. But in Ptuj the concept was different and thus this honourable title is bestowed upon members of cultural-ethnographic associations for their meritorious services and active participation in Kurentovanje in Ptuj and presentations of carnival traditions abroad, as well as for their commitment to the preservation and protection of at least one of the traditional carnival figures.
At the beginning, Prince Carnival was appointed by the director and organising committee of Kurentovanje. Since 2008, when Council of Princes was established, a public tender has been published and Prince Carnival has been chosen with the agreement of the mayor and head of Kurentovanje. Prince Carnival is inaugurated on 11th November at 11:11, for St. Martin’s Day is considered as “autumn carnival” and also known as “small carnival” which heralds the winter carnival. Prince Carnival holds office until next St. Martin’s Day.
The first Prince Carnival was appointed in 1999 for the carnival year 2000. On St. Martin’s Day in 1999, Jože Gašperšič from Ptuj Ski Club, became Prince Carnival I, and had the privilege to start spreading the reputation of Kurents in Slovenia and abroad. In 2013, Prince Carnival was appointed for two consecutive years.
Until now, 15 Carnival Princes have been inaugurated.