Perhaps, you’ve already planned your trip to Armenia and now thinking of mixing historical sightseeing with festive events. A good news for you: Armenia boasts a rich variety of tourism festivals. From Carpet Festival up to Sheep Shearing event, these are a real fiesta of national traditions, customs and cuisine. If this is one of the reasons why you want to explore Armenia, you should check out the full list of the of ”must-go” festivals beforehand. These festivals mostly take place in the high season, so you are sure to catch at least one of them up during your stay in the country. Here are some of the most spectacular tourism festivals in Armenia.
1. Tolma (also dolma) is the “queen” of the Armenian cuisine, so it’s no mere chance that Tolma Festival is the first major event opening the high season. Held by Sardarapat Memorial on May 16, the Festival’s main goal is to familiarize you with various types and recipes of the national dish. It’s a whole ritual accompanied with folk songs, dances and contests. So, it’s an excellent chance for you to not only taste this delicious dish and learn various tolma recipes but immerse in the national culture and traditions.
2. Armenians do love meat dishes (and they eagerly confess it), and if you’re also far from being a vegetarian, you’ll enjoy another festival dedicated to the “khorovats” – pork barbecue. The Barbecue Festival is annually marked in Akhtala town, in the beautiful region of Lori. On September 12-13, you can taste here over 40 varieties of barbecues – just fancy that!
3. Unlike the two former festivals, the Mulberry Festival will be closer to the vegetarians’ heart (and stomach). If you explore Armenia in July, you should head for Goris town and taste this sweet fruit and dozens of other berries and fruits. You’ll also see the process of mulberry vodka production and sample it (caveat: famous for its healing properties, it’s quite a strong alcoholic drink, on the same level with such premium drinks as tequila and rum).
4. Tourism festivals in Armenia are not only about national cuisine but unique crafts and arts. If you want to marvel the craftsmanship of Armenian masters and bring a gem of Armenian tapestry to your home country, you should visit beautiful town of Dilijan. During the Carpet Festival on August 15, you will be able to buy an ornate carpet and other authentic handmade items made in different corners of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.
5. If wine is your favorite drink, then you will savor Areni Wine Festival which is one of the oldest and most popular ones among locals and tourists. Besides, Areni winery is one of the earliest known in the world- it was discovered in a cave near the Areni village and is around 6,100 years old! The festival program is saturated: from sampling of different Armenian wines made by the best winemakers to exhibition-fair of traditional dishes spiced up with national music and dances. This year, the festival will be held on October 2-3, so, make sure to include it in your trip schedule.
6. If you travel to Armenia in autumn, you should be informed October is saturated with cultural events. High Fest International Performing Arts Festival annually takes place in early October and hosts multi-national groups from different countries. It’s a wonderful option for a budget trip as the tickets are quite affordable for an average traveler (in some cases, the entrance is free).
As you can see, whether you’re a gourmet or an art lover, you’ll find a festival to attend during your trip to Armenia. Here is the full list of festivals with the dates and venues for you to consider:
1. Fish Festival. Date- April 11. Venue-Abovyan town, Kotayk region.
2. Tolma Festival. Date- May 16. Venue- Sardarapat Memorial, Armavir region.
3. Bread in Mountains Festival. Date- June 13. Venue – Erebuni Fortress in Yerevan.
4. Mulberry Festival. Date- July 4 (the first Saturday of July). Venue- Goris town, Syunik region.
5. Sheep Shearing Festival. Date- June 6. Venue- Tatev village, Syunik region.
6. Navasard (Old New Year in pagan Armenia). Date- August 11-12. Venue- Tsaghkhunk village, Gegharkunik region.
7. Carpet Festival. Date- August 15 (the second Saturday of August). Venue- Dilijan, Tavush region.
8. Honey and Berries Festival. Date: August 16. Venue- Berd town, Tavush region.
9. Barbecue Festival. Date- September 12-13. Venue- Akhtala, Lori marz.
10. High Fest International Performing Arts Festival. Date – Early October. Venue- Yerevan.
11. Wine Festival. Date- October 2-3. Venue- Rind and Areni villages, Vayots Dzor region.
12. Gata Festival. Date – October 10. Venue- Khachik village, Vayots Dzor region.
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Author: Sirvard Amatuni