Festivals in Uzbekistan

Festivals in Uzbekistan – Festivals and events not to be missed to make your adventure special

Festivals not to be missed in Uzbekistan

For lovers of art, culture and monuments, Uzbekistan is undoubtedly the best destination in Central Asia. If the desolate altitudes of the Tajik Pamir can inspire deep reflection, the refined domes of Samarkand and Bukhara will envelop you with their beauty. What makes a trip to Ubzekistan even more fascinating is the presence of numerous festivals , both religious and civil. A true explosion of colors and flavors to immerse yourself in, each festival with its own specificity. Let’s take a look at the most important events on the Uzbek calendar and, very soon, on yours too. 

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Religious holidays in Uzbekistan

Although it may not seem like it, Uzbekistan is a Muslim country . The numerous mosques remind us of this, the Uzbek population is not strictly observant, except for the Ferghana Valley where religion is more deeply felt. In any case, during periods of religious holidays, remember to behave appropriately and respect the local population. Although you won’t find any particular problems with shops and businesses closing even during Ramadan.

Ramadan Eid

Let’s start with Ramadan , a holiday that has returned and been officially recognized since 1992, of which Hayt marks the end. In 2024 it will begin after the last ray of sun in the evening between April 9th ​​and 10th. For three days the Uzbeks visit relatives and friends, the tables are set in the homes and plov, the Uzbek national dish, reigns supreme. Traveling in Uzbekistan during this time you will discover many traditional aspects of local daily life, such as bodirok (popcorn) and kazinaki (various seeds).

Ramadan Eid

Sacrifice Hait 

Celebrated seventy days after the end of Ramadan , this event lasts three or four days. On this occasion, Muslims go to the mosque and then to the cemetery to offer prayers to the deceased. Also known as the “feast of sacrifice”, it is a time of year in which particular attention is paid to the family as well as compassion for those most in need.

orthodox Easter

The Russian population in Uzbekistan is now mostly concentrated in the capital. If you are in Tashkent for Orthodox Easter, you will be able to admire the babooshkas decorating Easter eggs. Don’t miss the atmosphere you can experience at midnight mass.

woman in gold and black floral dress wearing gold crown

National holidays in Uzbekistan

Every state has its own anniversaries, Uzbekistan is certainly no exception. Let’s look at the main civil holidays in the country, it is not clear on these occasions what closes and what remains open. Keep this in mind if you need to contact any public office.

Defender of the Motherland Day – January 14

On this date we celebrate the birth of the Uzbek army , in 1992, when the entire military apparatus came under the jurisdiction of the newly formed Uzbek republic. In Independence Square, in Tashkent, the national anthem sounds and the army parades. Wreaths are placed at the foot of the Independence Monument.

Women’s Feta – 8 March

As in almost the whole world, this anniversary is also celebrated in Uzbekistan , albeit with some differences. While the blossoming of Uzbek spring offers a kaleidoscope of colours, men take particular care of the women of the family and their lovers. Bouquets of roses and tulips are given as gifts, sometimes with the addition of sweets and fruit. The President congratulates the women and a large concert is held in the Istiqlol Palace in Tashkent.

Day of Remembrance and Honor – May 9

This anniversary commemorates the Uzbeks who fell during the Second World War (in the ex-Soviet world called the Great Patriotic War). In the capital the center of the celebrations is Mustakillik Square, where a monument collects the names of the fallen. Throughout the country, homage is paid by bringing flowers to both individual and collective graves.

Independence Day – September 1st

The most important national holiday of Uzbekistan . The whole country is busy celebrating this day with countless activities: concerts, parades, dances and of course food! If you are in Tashkent on this day, you can go to Alisher Navoiy National Park, where the Uzbek president traditionally gives a speech to the nation which ends with grandiose fireworks.  

Instructors and Teachers Day – October 1st

Curiously, this holiday originates in the United States, when in 1944 a simple teacher asked to establish a party for those responsible for teaching young people. The celebration was then also adopted in the Soviet Union, in 1965, and was maintained in independent Uzbekistan. On this day, students give teachers flowers and gifts as a sign of respect.

Flag Day – November 8

On this day the country’s flag is celebrated with parties and concerts . In the Uzbek flag, blue is the symbol of the sky and crystal clear water, white is a symbol of peace and a wish for luck while green represents nature and crops. The thin red lines are the power of life. The moon and stars in the corner refer to history and the Uzbek calendar, also representing purity.

Constitution Day – 8 December

On this date, the whole country celebrates the day on which, in 1992, the Oliy Majlis, the Uzbek parliament, ratified the constitutional charter made up of six sections, twenty-six chapters and one hundred and twenty-eight articles. The approval of the constitution marked the end of a long discussion between experts and commissions, which ended with around eighty changes made by the deputies of the time.

a large building with a blue dome on top of it

Traditional holidays in Uzbekistan

And here we come to the most interesting festivals, the traditional ones where you can discover Uzbek culture from various aspects. It is often difficult to find information on the dates on which these festivals are held, even for the most important ones, knowing exactly when they will take place is a bit of a mystery. Things are also complicated by the fact that several of these festivals were born as biennial events, then transformed into annual ones due to their growing success among the numerous foreign visitors. However, let’s try to discover these unmissable festivals in Uzbekistan.

Navruz – All of Uzbekistan

Let’s start with the most famous of the traditional holidays, the Persian New Year! The most important holiday in Central Asia falls on the day of the spring equinox. Its origins are peasant and it represented the moment of the beginning of sowing, among its roots also the ancient Zoroastrian religion. There are even trips organized specifically to experience this festival in Uzbekistan: music, dance, colors, traditional dishes cooked specifically. In short, you will see the whole of Uzbekistan celebrating!

Boysun Spring – Boysun

In spring, traditional festivals take place throughout Uzbekistan , which is another reason to travel to Uzbekistan during this period. One of the most famous festivals is the one that takes place in April in Boysun, Surkhandarya province. Boysun is located near Termez, a short distance from both the border with Tajikistan and that with Afghanistan. You will find a festival that dates back to pre-Islamic Uzbekistan, a UNESCO heritage site since 2001, where you can immerse yourself in Uzbek culture

Silk and Spice Festival – Bukhara

A splendid opportunity to admire Bukhara with an incredible side of folklore shows , while the scent of spices fills the air. Incredible costumes and true works of art, truly an unmissable festival. Some doubts about the dates. Born as a biennial festival in Bukhara, it has now become annual. It is held between the end of May and June although some sources believe the dates alternate with those of the gold and jewelery festival which is held a few weeks later.

Eastern Tarolana – Samarkand

One of the most important music festivals in all of Central Asia . Once held every two years, it now takes place annually in the Registan square in Samarkand. It usually takes place between August and September but check the dates. Here you can attend splendid concerts of traditional Uzbek music, but the importance of this festival has grown so much that you will also find artists from Asia and Europe. As per traditional Samarkand and the Silk Road unite cultures…

Craft Festival – Kokand

If you prefer a more authentic experience to the splendor of Bukhara, this craft festival is for you! We are in the Ferghana valley, a region famous for its manufacturing, including that of ceramics in Gijduvan (with related festival). This event is held in Kokand in September, every two years, the last edition taking place in 2023. It cannot be ruled out that, even in this case, a success with the public will transform the event into an annual one, to the great joy of those who will be able to visit it.

Chimgan Extreme & Chimgan Echo – Chimgan

A location for two festivals, the first in winter and the second in summer. We are a short distance from the capital, Tashkent. In the extreme version you will find yourself faced with a series of races dedicated to winter sports. In the summer version, however, you will be able to participate in a musical gathering that has been taking place for more than forty years, which has now become an event in support of ecology. A really interesting experience, especially if you are traveling in an eco-friendly way.

Beer Festival -Tashkent

Could a beer festival be missing? Certainly not. Sometimes we forget that Uzbekistan is a Muslim country, especially in the capital where this event is held. It may not be the best place to enjoy excellent beer but in June in a Soviet-style city , a cold beer and the chance to have fun and make new acquaintances are always truly welcome things. But remember to respect the sensitivity of the local population.

Stihia Festival – Lake Tudakul 

Do you want to discover alternative and underground Uzbekistan ? Then you should follow the organization of this electronic music festival. Born in 2018 in the remote Moynaq, after Covid he moved to the shores of a lake near Bukhara. At the moment a 2024 edition is not yet announced, but as you may have understood by now this is a common problem for festivals in Uzbekistan.

Years – Tutto l’Uzbekistan

This is a very curious holiday, even in Uzbekistan it is celebrated on the night between December 31st and January 1st . Yllar falls on the first day of the year and in fact it seems like we are witnessing our Christmas, as streets and houses are decorated, families gather and even a small tree is decorated, gifts are exchanged and you might even see a Santa Claus!

Melon Festival – Khiva

If you are traveling in August to the territory that was ancient Khwarezmia, you cannot miss this festival. For fruit lovers it will be a real paradise, in the area of ​​the city around the Ichan Kala museum a real melon festival is held. You will find the different varieties of Uzbek melons on display, ready to win the scepter of the best melon in the country. You will also be able to enjoy peaches, apples, grapes, pears, watermelons and everything delicious this corner of Uzbekistan has to offer.

Dance Festival – Khiva

Also in Khiva, this other important event is held in September. Dancers, musicians, singers, Uzbeks and otherwise, gather in this splendid town on the edge of the desert to give life to a festival of international importance. You will also be able to admire the lazgi , an ancient dance typical of Khwarezmia which became a UNESCO intangible heritage site in 2019. Depictions of dancers engaging in this dance have been found in archaeological excavations such as Toprak-Kala.

Flower Festival – Namangan

One of the fastest growing Uzbek festivals, from the classic duration of two or three days in 2023 it has reached a duration of two weeks, between May and June. The city has a centuries-old tradition of floriculture. It all started on Gulzor Street, a street famous for its ability to use plants for medicinal purposes. During this festival you will find millions of flowers of all kinds and millions of visitors, so say the official sources, from all over the world.

Pomegranate Festival – Shahrisabz

October, in Tamerlane’s hometown you can participate in a festival dedicated to this exquisite fruit, present in all Indo-European mythologies. Musical shows, cultural events and obviously many local products to taste.

Cotton Festival – Andijan

Uzbekistan is among the world’s leading cotton producers, so there isn’t a festival dedicated to this precious resource. In fact there is, it is held in September in Andijian one of the main cities of the Ferghana Valley. In addition to learning the history and tradition of cotton in Uzbekistan, you will have the opportunity to attend fashion shows and various types of shows. 

Almond Blossom Festival – Samarkand

We close by returning to what is probably the most famous place in all of Uzbekistan: Samarkand. And let’s go back to an important moment in the life of Uzbekistan, namely spring, when nature awakens once winter is over. This festival, usually held in April, celebrates the flowering of almond trees, a symbol of life being reborn.

These are just some of the festivals you will find in Uzbekistan, suffice it to say that in 2023 there were grape festivals (Tashkent), souvenir festivals (Bukhara), Sogdian wine festivals (Samarkand) and a national costume festival (Urgench) . And also lavender festival, typical national products, melodies, ethnosports and also an international festival of Eurasian theater. In short, there is certainly no shortage of reasons to visit Uzbekistan’s festivals!

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