1. Felt Festival, 2. Horse Games Festival, 3. Hunting Bird Festival, 4. World Nomad Games. Festivals in Kyrgyzstan reflect the country's rich history as well as nomadic customs and traditions. Festivals include sporting events, races, and demonstrations, as well as handcrafted items, food, and performances. Today, festivals are an excellent way to preserve traditions and bring people together from all over the world, not just Kyrgyzstan. Here is a list of most famous festivals in Kyrgyzstan.
The first one in the Top 4 Most Famous Festivals in Kyrgyzstan that Toplist would like to introduce to you is the Felt Festival. Felt is a dense material made of lamb wool that has played an important role in Kyrgyz daily life for centuries. The secrets of felt making art and ornament decoration were passed down from generation to generation. Felt was primarily used to protect yurts from the elements. They made carpets, bags, and toys out of felt.
The art of making felt products is practiced throughout Kyrgyzstan, and each region has its own dominant technical and artistic techniques. Today, interest in Kyrgyz traditional crafts is bolstered, in part, by tourist activities such as the Felt Festival.
Felt Festival, known in Kyrgyz as “Kiyiz Duyno,” includes a collective installation of a yurt, master classes in felt making, pattern creation on felt, exhibition and sales of felt articles, and so on. In addition, there are displays of Kyrgyz customs and rituals, games, and folk concerts. One of the best ways to learn about Kyrgyzstan’s culture and ethnography is to attend a felt festival.
Takes place: no specific date
Horse Games Festival
Today, you might see games like:
- At Chabysh- long-distance races. Fascinating races with distances of up to 100 kilometers in which young boys aged 10-15 are frequently involved for horse playfulness and sometimes saddles are removed to increase speed.
- Ulak Tartysh- an enthralling game in which two teams of riders ‘compete’ for the carcass of a goat. Many people are enchanted by the moment when the riders almost droop and get a 30 kilo carcass while riding. The team should then use an improvised ring to lower the carcass to the slope.
- Kurosh- horse wrestling in which riders must push and seize the other rider’s horse in order to bring him down.
- Oodarysh- a type of wrestling in which riders must get the other rider off the horse without using their hands. You can only win if you can ride a horse skillfully enough to push the other rider, possibly even with his horse.
- Kyz Kumay- a beautiful game that is still difficult to classify as a game. The rider must catch the girl-rider in order to receive a kiss.
- Tiyin Enmey- a game in which the rider attempts to collect coins from the ground while riding.
The dates of the folk games were outside of the normal “tourist season,” as it was not intended to be a festival for tourists, but rather a festival for locals. The majority of the participants are mountain workers who take cattle to one of the mountain jailoos (pastures) for the summer. When the herd reaches the lower meadows, the preparation for horse games begins.
Takes place: July
Hunting Bird Festival
The first hunting birds arrived in India, and this style of hunting spread throughout the world. The Kyrgyz still value hunting birds because one bird could once feed an entire village. Today, however, hunting has evolved into an entertainment, and modern falconers pursue falconry for their own enjoyment as well as that of tourists.
A falconry festival in Kyrgyzstan includes eagle and falcon shows, hare or fox hunts, traditional Kyrgyz birds’ games such as Arkan, Tartmay, Zholuk, and Tastamay, as well as various cultural events, folk performances, and contests.
World Nomad Games
Thousands of years ago, there was a schism between nomads and farmers. The Kyrgyz became nomads, moving their herds from pasture to pasture, spending summers high in the mountains and winters in the lower valleys. This way of life is reflected in the Kyrgyz people’s daily lives and entertainment. Visitors can see these firsthand at various ethno festivals, but the World Nomad Games are the best way to experience the full richness of the local culture and customs. It is one of the most famous festivals in Kyrgyzstan.
Wrestling attracts the most competitors. Athletes compete in traditional Central Asian wrestling as well as mas wrestling, in which an athlete attempts to wrestle a stick from his opponent. Intellectual games, such as mangala (a popular board game around the world), help athletes think strategically in the face of potential adversaries. Hunting games with birds of prey and dogs put animals’ agility and speed to the test as they chase a dummy target. The horse games are the main attraction of the Nomad Games. In er enish, opponents wrestle on horseback, whereas in cirit, teams of riders use blunt javelins to hit the other riders. The most popular sport is kok boru, in which teams of riders compete for control of a dead goat or sheep and attempt to carry it to a goal in order to score points. Kok boru is an intense game that draws thousands of spectators to cheer on their favorite teams on a regular basis. While Central Asian teams are expected to dominate, a US cowboy team was a fan favorite at the 2016 Nomad Games.
The Nomad Games aren’t just about sports. A yurt village in Kyrchyn Gorge featured hundreds of yurts from Kyrgyzstan’s various regions, as well as regular performances and demonstrations of everything from traditional improvisation to horseback stunts. There are also cultural competitions to see who can cook the best traditional dishes or build the fastest yurt. Casual visitors can wander through the yurt villages and experience the best of Kyrgyz hospitality and cuisine, as well as purchase handicrafts from master artisans.
The World Nomad Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only experience the best of Central Asian culture and traditions, but also to be a part of an atmosphere that exists in no other time or place. This unforgettable festival will undoubtedly be the highlight of any trip.
Takes place: 2-8 September