New Year’s Day
It is very unlikely that you’ll be in Kyrgyzstan at this time of year but if you are, expect fireworks and partying in Bishkek.
Fatherland Defender Day
Held on 23 February, this used to be Soviet Army Day but is now more or less the equivalent of Father’s Day when males receive gifts from women. Military parades and fireworks relate it to the old days.
Nooruz, on 21 March, is the most important annual festival in Central Asia. Nooruz – a sort of Central Asian New Year that dates back to Zoroastrian times – is celebrated throughout the country with street festivals and lots of partying and social visiting.
Bishkek Jazz Festival
A central Asian capital may not seem the obvious place to hear jazz, but the Bishkek Jazz Festival in mid April has now become an annual event.
On 1 May, Labour Day is celebrated throughout the country with street festivals and parades. Shortly after, on 9 May, Veteran’s Day commemorates Soviet victory over Germany in WWII with more parades and firework displays.
The At Chabysh festival, which takes place near Lake Issyk Kul at the end of the month, is a big draw for local people, with long-distance horse races, poetry competitions and music.
National Horse Games
This is by far the busiest month for festivals in Kyrgyzstan. Spectacular horse games are organised at Cholpon-Ata on Saturdays throughout month. These include ulak tartysh (‘grey wolf’) with two teams fighting over a goat carcass, and kyz-kumay (‘kiss the girl’) where a male rider has to try and catch a girl on horseback.
On 7 November each year, Revolution Day is celebrated in Bishkek with a street festival and parade near the Lenin monument.