In Tajikistan, festivals have seen a marked increase in quality and number in recent years due to NGO funding. While before most Tajik festivals centered on religious holidays, now there are a host of other events celebrating film, song and Pamiri culture. Events are small-scale, but that’s part of the charm.
As with the rest of Central Asia, information is often difficult to come by: ask around and stay flexible with your plans.
If you’d like more tips to time your trip, check out when to visit Tajikistan.
If you are worried about the effect of Ramadan on your trip, read more on what Ramadan in Central Asia actually entails.
Idi Fitr: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Fitr in the Arabic world, this celebration ends Ramadan with tasty food.
Idi Kurbon: 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.
On and around these days it may be hard to find a driver or guide in Tajikistan, and some services may not be available. There is not much public celebration: it’s a family holiday (but it’s easy to get invited).
Victory Day: May 9. Includes large commemoration ceremonies and a parade. Some visitors report being expelled from these events (by paranoid KGB officers), while other report being pushed to a good vantage point (by hospitable locals).
Independence Day: September 9. Large festivities around the city.
Folk and arts festivals
Dushanbe might have some new initiatives we haven’t heard about yet. Check out where to get the latest information about events in Dushanbe.
Navroz: March 21. Spelled differently in every language, Navroz is Central Asia’s New Year celebration, on the spring equinox. In Tajikistan, it is celebrated with holiday dishes such as plov and the labour-intensive sumalak, prepared only by women stirring the pot day and night, chatting, singing and dancing. Dushanbe holds celebrations and Hisor is the locus of a big buzkashi and gushtingiri (local brand of wrestling) festival.
Roof of the world Festival (Bam-i Dunya): Khorog, somewhere in July. Held in the Khorog city park, this is a celebration of Pamiri customs as well as an international song and dance festival with artists from all over Central Asia. There is a Facebook page which might have updates. Otherwise, contact tourism operators in Khorog.
At Chabysh: Murghab, July. The At Chabysh festival features a long distance horse race, buzkashi and other horse games, concerts, poetry contest, handicrafts exhibition, yurt village and more, celebrating Kyrgyz heritage in the Pamirs. Trip report here.
Didor Film Festival: October, Dushanbe, organised bi-annually on even years. Originally conceived as a Persian movie festival, it has now expanded its scope to take in Russian and European movies. A documentary festival takes place in the uneven years. There is no functional website, so check with locals to find out when it is held.
Music Festival: Dushanbe, October, not every year. Previously, there was something called the Falak festival, celebrating a type of sung poetry typical for Southern Tajikistan. This morphed into the Rumi festival and later in the Dushanbe jazz festival, focusing on ethno-jazz.
Events no longer happening
If you have seen outdated information about the Roof of the World Regatta or the Rangorang festival: these no longer exist.