A lot of events are badly advertised, so it’s a good thing to keep asking people when and where a certain event will take place, since opinions tend to differ.
Nooruz: 21 March. Celebrated across Central Asia, the whole region welcomes springtime with song, dance and good food. In Kyrgyzstan, men and women have their own special dish. Sumalak is a sprouted wheat dish for women, while halim is a meaty porridge for men.
Bishkek Jazz Festival: April, Bishkek. 3 days of jazz music across Bishkek, with musicians from Central Asia, US and Europe.
Russian Orthodox Easter: Date changes. An Orthodox celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Eggs are hamstered by babooshkas days in advance to bake the special ‘kulich’ dish, and the midnight mass has a special atmosphere.
Tash Bashat carpet festival: June, Tash Bashat. Not important enough to make a huge detour, but if you are into carpets or just in the neighbourhood, some of the best examples of Kyrgyz shyrdak come from this region.
Sabantui: Mid-July, location changes. Tatar holiday celebrated by some of the roughly 40 thousand Tatars in the country. Traditional song, dance and games.
Summer festivals: In some places, shepherds, in conjunction with the local CBT group, organise events during summer for tourists and locals alike, all offering a mix of horse games, eagle hunting and traditional song and dance. The most important are the horse games festival in Kyzyl-Oi (end of July), the eagle hunting festival in Bokonbayevo (end of August), the games in Sary-Mogol and the shepherds festival in Karkara valley, near Char Kuduk (end of August). Contact CBT to find out exact dates and planning.
World Nomad Games (Kyrgyzstan): Similar to the other summer festivals, the World Nomad Games however are much bigger, with more games, a much higher budget and many international participants. First edition in 2014 and organised every 2 years.
At Chabysh: Peak Lenin base camp, July. Well-known At Chabysh festival featuring a long distance horse race, buzkashi and other horse games, concerts, poetry contest, handicrafts exhibition, yurt village and more. Part of the festival is held in Murghab, Tajikistan.
Orozo Ait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Fitr in the Arabic world, this celebration ends Ramadan with tasty food. Ethnic Uzbeks take Ramadan more seriously than Kyrgyz.
Independence Day: 31st of August. Dancing and music in every city. In Bishkek, a kokpar game in the hippodrome is a major draw.
Kurban Ait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Adha in the Arabic world, on this Muslim holiday it is traditional to go to mosque, sacrifice a sheep and give meat to the poor. This is also big for Kyrgyz.