There is a common misconception that Armenia is all about merely “church-seeing” and hiking. Indeed, rich historical heritage and “hiking-friendly” mountains- are the top perks the country boasts. However, authentic national cuisine, customs and traditions are yet other activities you’ll have on your plate during your trip to Armenia. So, if you’re after more tourism experiences consider including a festival or two (depending on when you’re visiting the country) in your “must-do” list in Armenia (in addition to this must-do list).
The good news is that Armenia is abuzz with festivals in 2017. As compared to the last year’s choices , 2017 is more saturated with events. So, here we go!
Armenian tourism festivals: spring 2017
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Tolma Festival (May 20, Hnaberd, Ararat province): learn how to make Armenian tolma– the “queen” of the local cuisine and a “must-taste” dish while in Armenia (and, perhaps, “a must-make and share” back home).
Armenian tourism festivals: summer 2017
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Sheep Shearing Festival (June 10,Khot village, Syunik province): plunge into the local sheep shearing contest, festivity of national dances and songs in picturesque Khot village, in the close vicinity to Tatev Monastery – Armenia’s medieval jewel.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Syunik’s goods festival (July 1, Karahunj observatory, Syunik): located in prehistoric observatory Karahunj’s territory, the Syunik’s goods festival hosts various pavilions presenting national culinary traditions, souvenirs, and food of course! It is a great opportunity to meet natives and have a great time in Syunik, and of course, explore wonderful Karahunje! join the lavish fiesta of Syunik marz organic products- dried fruit, lavash, local dishes and drinks and artisan crafts.
Haibuys: Armenian Herb Festival (July 1-2, Yenokavan village, Tavoush): Armenia has the huge types of herbs. All of them have medicinal properties. Some of them can be used for treatment of different diseases, and some can be used for relax-effect tea. Haibuis fest hosts the ways too see, discover and use the Armenian herbs. In fest you will see traditional horse races, carpet making of different kind of herbs, and , of course, national songs and dances. And form Yenokavan you may have a great hike or horse ride tour to wonderful Lastivar waterfall cascade, the paradise of Armenian nature.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Ecotourism Festival (July 8-9, Artavan village, Vayots Dzor province): this event will host a special camp with 120 tents for tourists as well as a series of lectures on first aid, protection of biodiversity and other eco-tourism-related issues. But, above all, it’s a wonderful occasion to marvel astounding lushness of Vayots Dzor nature in early summer.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Golden Apricot International Film Festival (July 9-16, Yerevan): the event brings together world-class filmmakers and actors in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, where screenings of the cinema masterpieces take place (with no fee or a symbolic price of half a dollar or so).
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Watermelon Festival (July 15 (Swan lake, Yerevan): famous for its taste, Armenian watermelon couldn’t not to have its own festival. Breathe the freshness of Swan lake cold water and taste the delicious Armenian fruits. enjoy the ways of decoration that big berry.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Raspberry Festival (July 22, Ashotavan village, Syunik): have taste the sun of Armenia. Feel the smell of small pink berries, that gave us nature. Meet natives of Syunik village, feel their culture and hospitality. Also, Syunik is the best destination for hot summer time tour destination.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Vardavar International Festival (July 23, Garni Temple and Geghard Monastery neighborhood): be ready to bathe in water because Vardavar is all about pouring water to each other and “washing away the sins and negative energy” this way (by the way, the “water-pouring festival” dates back to the pagan times). But don’t worry, it’s going to be fun and refreshing- July is almost 40 degrees hot in Armenia!
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Honey and Berries Festival (August 13, Berd town, Tavush province): marked with pristine landscapes and hospitable people, Berd is home to the sweetest honey, fruit and berries which you will fill up with a lot if you visit this tourism festival this year.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Barbecue Festival (August 20, Akhtala town, Lori province): traditional Armenian khorovats (barbecue) festival is a contest of professional chefs and a festivity for meat-loving foodies: just imagine, you can taste over 40 types of this dish (which taste and smell is tempting for even keen vegetarians!).
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Mulberry Festival (July 4, 1st Saturday in July, Goris, Syunik province): taste local organic fruit and berries and take part in the production of famous Goris mulberry vodka. However, beware: it’s quite a strong alcoholic drink – it’s “on the same wavelength” with tequila and rum!
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Yerevan Taraz (national costumes) Fest (July 11, Sarnaghbyur village, Shirak province): the festival hosts demonstration of costumes, as well as food-tasting, local song, dances and traditional Armenian sports. Be ready to get dressed up as a local living in ancient times.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Navasard Festival (August 11- 12): the festival is the “revival” of pagan New Year celebration which was formerly dedicated to Aramazd – “father of all Armenian gods” (equivalent of Jupiter).
Armenian tourism festivals: fall 2017
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Carpets Festival (August 15 ( Dilijan town, Tavush province): famous for their centuries-old tapestry and rug-making skills, Armenian artisans will showcase and sell their masterpieces at the festival. A traditional ornamented Armenian carpet is an excellent souvenir to take home from Armenia.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Gata Festival (September 30 (last Saturday of September), 12:00, Khachik village, Vayots Dzor marz): another fall festival will be enticing for the sweet-teeth as gata is a yummy Armenian pastry stuffed with khoriz- butter, flour and sugar- and sometimes ornamented with traditional symbols.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Wine Festival (October 6-7, Areni and Rind villages, Vayots Dzor province): the oldest and largest festival in Armenia, the Wine Festival can potentially become a major event in the region attracting not only wine-makers and wine lovers but those who want to taste and buy local food – dried fruit, pastry, cannery, lavash and others. (By the way, Areni village is home to the world’s oldest winery- 6000 years old!)
Tourism festivals in Armenia: High Fest International Performing Arts Festival (October 1-10, Yerevan): jump into bustling Yerevan cultural life in “velvet autumn”- the best season to visit the city. The 10-day event brings together actors from across the globe, and the program features various genres- starting from classical drama up to experimental performances.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Duduk Festival (October 13-15, Yerevan): if you’re enchanted by the tunes of Armenian duduk (you heard the main theme to the Gladiator movie, haven’t you?), schedule a day trip to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, to take part in this comparatively young festival and walk around in this charming city.
Tourism festivals in Armenia: Erebuni-Yerevan Celebration (October 7-8, Yerevan): and, finally, to wrap up the “festival season” with the most elevated spirits, visit “Yerevan Day” (as dubbed by locals)- a vibrant celebration with national music, performances, exhibitions and open-air concerts. By the way, Yerevan celebrates its 279*th anniversary in 2017 (locals love to boast that their hometown is older than “eternal Rome”.)
Images: Alexander Raths, Poprotskiy Alexey, Ilya Vartanian, Shushan Harutyunyan
Text: Sirvard Amatuni