Each festival is a reunion of traditions and innovations. Visiting Armenia you will not only uncover a century-old culture but also join many lovely festivals. Here festivals are held throughout the whole year and on different regions of Armenia ranging from rural life and traditional fests to Yerevan Wine Days and International Jazz Day events. Here is the list of traditional festivals which will make you feel the real Armenian spirit.
Dolma is a traditional Armenian dish made with different types of meat and vegetables rolled in grape, cabbage, quince and blueberry leaves. Armenians have more than 50 types of it. The classical one is made from minced meat wrapped in grape leaves.
For many years Dolma festival has been traditionally held in Sardarapat, Ararat Valley. As for now, it is held in different parts of the region and is celebrated with the preparation of more than 60 types of dolma and competition for the main prize. Food lovers attend it annually to try all the different types and varieties at once.
Although sheep shearing is largely mechanized now, in Armenia many people still use special scissors for it. The annually held sheep shearing festival tries to reveal the experts in it. The fest is accompanied with music and dance performances. Guests can taste various national sweets. Samples of national handmade items and carpets are also exhibited during the event.
This event brings together not only watermelon lovers but also carving specialists. Participants demonstrate their unique skills in designing and serving the watermelon and the best participants are awarded. The program covers not only other games and competitions, but also a concert with the participation of famous singers. By the way, the participant, joining the fest with the biggest watermelon is also awarded.
Khorovats, commonly known as Armenian barbeque, is one of the most delicious Armenian dishes. More than twenty types of khorovats can be found here which have their special preparation techniques. In the famous barbeque festival one can taste all types of it made with pork, lamb, beef, chicken, trout, sterlet and other types of meat and fish. Several master-classes, shows and contests are also organized during the festival. The guests and participants are entertained with national song and dance performances.
Vardavar which means to pour water over someone is a Christian tradition celebrating the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. However, the festival has a pegan origin and was dedicated to Astghik, the Armenian goddess of water, love, beauty and fertility. Legend has it, that the the goddess Astghik disseminated love all across Armenia by sprinkling rose water. Since then, with this celebration the pagan people were offering roses to Astghik and splashing water over each other. The name “vard” is the Armenian translation of “rose” and from here derives the name of the festival. This is one of the most favorite fests for Armenians since it is fun and helps to cool down on a the very hot summer. Although it is celebrated all over the country, in Yerevan it is even more entertaining. The day starts with a traditional parade of water trucks which provide the participants with water. The main event is organized at Swan’s Lake accompanied with rhythmic music.
Mulberry is one of the most favorite berries of Armenia. The annually held Mulberry Festival is arranged in the region of Syunik since they were the first to make the mulberry vodka. Each community of the region represents dishes made from mulberry, including the techniques of making mulberry Lavash and mulberry molasses used to heal coughs. The mulberry vodka making recipes are also shown to the participants. The program covers Armenian music and dance performances.
Armenia’s wine making traditions have a history of more than 6000 years, the evidence of which are the ancient wineries found in the country, Areni Winery among them, the oldest winery in the world dating back to 6100 BC. And it is here, in Areni village where the country’s biggest wine festival is arranged annually. Thousands of people participate in this colorful event accompanied with dances, folk music, competitions and a vivid parade of the best winemakers of the country. Another major wine festival is held in Yerevan, in the beautiful Saryan Street, well-known for its wine restaurants. 15 leading local wineries offer their products and for two days this street becomes a great place for wine lovers who can do tastings of about 200 sorts of wine made in Armenia and Artsakh. Visitors try wine and appetizers while enjoying multi-genre music performed by popular singers and DJs.
Those interested in Armenian national clothing should attend the Yerevan Taraz Festival. Taraz is the name of the Armenian national costumes. In this colorful festival you will get acquainted with the national costumes of different regions of the country. You will also admire the works of leading designers of Armenia where the modern ideas are mixed with ancient taraz elements. The participants are entertained with national dances, songs, and puppet shows.
This colorful festival dedicated to herbs and flowers is held in one of the most picturesque places of the country, in the Apaga resort located in Tavush region, well-known for its beautiful fields and forests. During this festival, participants can attend masterclasses about the methods of using plants and herbs in different fields including for healing purposes. This festival will interest especially those interested in ecotourism as many educational games and lectures about ecology and environmental thinking are organized.
This is one of the tastiest festivals of Armenia, especially for sweet lovers. This day the center of honey making Shamshadin presents its best honey and various local berries together with the products made of them. About 3000 participants take part in this interesting event who can taste and buy honey and berries having fun at the same time. Surprisingly, this festival is dedicated not only to honey, but also to the general promotion of agriculture, beekeeping and arts and crafts. Thus, many kinds of arts and crafts works are demonstrated during the festival.
Gata, the symbol of Armenian cuisine, is a national Armenian multi-layered dessert with very soft and delicate flavor. Almost all the provinces and towns have their own variety of gata which differ from each other with their shapes, sizes, recipes and decorations. Gata symbolizes the strength of families and decorates every festive table. The festival dedicated to Gata is arranged in Khachik village, located in Vayots Dzor region. During the festival the largest gata (2 metres) is prepared and you will have the chance to taste it. The festival includes entertainment along with delicious food, folk dances, songs and games.