For people interested in heritage and folklore, Uzbekistan has the best festivals in Central Asia: Boysun Bahori and Sharq Tarolanari stand out as well-organized, interesting events. They still don’t have up-to-date websites, but the level of professionalism of the organization is much higher than in neighbouring republics.
If you’d like more tips to time your trip, check out when to visit Uzbekistan.
Ramazan Hait: Date changes. Called Eid Al-Fitr in the Arabic world, this celebration ends Ramadan with tasty food.
Kurban Hait: 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, 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).
Russian Orthodox Easter. Date changes. An Orthodox celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. Big in Tashkent, where there are lots of Russians. Eggs are hamstered by babooshkas days in advance to bake the special ‘kulich’ dish, and the midnight mass has a special atmosphere. Does not disrupt daily life like the other 2 holidays.
Independence Day: September 1. Concerts and fireworks to celebrate the end of the Soviet Union, and the beginning of Uzbekistan. What’s open on this day is still a matter of debate. Please chime in if you find out!
Uzbek Flag Day: November 8. Celebrating the national flag with a festival and concerts.
Constitution Day: December 8. Another nation-building, leader-glorifying moment with concerts and the like.
Folk culture festivals
Navruz: March 21. Central Asia’s New Year. The whole region welcomes springtime with song, dance and good food. In Uzbekistan, family celebrations and street parties are a natural part of the day. Traditional games like kukpari will be on show around this time.
Boysun Bahori: Boysun, April. The small town of Boysun is the locus of this festival of traditional games, song, dance, arts and crafts. It’s a nice all-in-one package if you want to experience the traditional pastimes, in a very rural area of Uzbekistan near the Tajik border.
Silk and Spice festival: Bukhara, May. Mostly a shopping and arts and crafts festival, with some concerts thrown in.
Sharq Tarolanari: Samarkand, August. Big international ethnic music festival, held biennially in uneven years in front of the Registan.
Handicrafter festival: Kokand, September. Similar to Bukhara’s Silk and Spice festival.
If you are not into handicrafts and traditional dances, fear not! Uzbekistan has something for you too.
Chimgan Extreme: February, Chimgan mountains. Winter sports festival near Tashkent.
Chimgan’s Echo festival: Chimgan mountains, first week of June. Cozy atmosphere at this outdoor music festival for singer-songwriters. Also includes a mountainbike downhill race.
Beer festival: Tashkent, June. Tashkent might not be the beer destination of choice for the experts, but this festival nonetheless features lots of drinking and fun.
We have a Russian-language calendar for 2020. Don’t treat it as a certainty, but you can have a look if anything is going on near you on your travel dates.