Armenia has become a tourist trend, breaking records for attendance among tourists, and surprising with its affordable beauty, culture, cuisine, and hospitality.
Noisy voices, laughter flavored with wine and jazz, which has long been an integral part of urban culture, are heard in the noisy street cafes, gastro bars, and enotecas until late at night. Having revived the rich history of winemaking and having driven the velvet revolution, the country seems to be in light courage: surprised and rejoicing at such close attention and interest from the outside. Almost every weekend from May to November, Armenians find a reason for festivals: from cinema and music to wine and culinary. And the French motto of l’art de vivre sounds very relevant here.
You can get to know the country and get to know each other better in a short time only if you become an accomplice of its national holidays, traditions, the culture of Armenia, and thematic festivals, and there are many of them in modern Armenia for every taste. Festivals are an ideal occasion to get to know the culture of the country and its inhabitants, to see the main attractions and to understand that Armenia is not only “Ararat, cognac and barbecue”.
Tatev Sheep Shearing Festival
When: the 9th of June
Despite the rather frightening name, this is one of the sweetest and most authentic festivals that takes place in the village of Khot, not far from the most picturesque corner of Armenia – the majestic Tatev Monastery on the edge of the Vorotan Gorge. At the festival, one can see not only how dashing Armenian men cleverly cut sheep’s hair, but also take part in a haircut contest. The festival represents one of the oldest folk traditions – the process of shearing sheep for yarn, from which beautiful national rugs are then woven. The event is accompanied by a large entertainment program: here are tightrope walkers, and folk dances, and duduk music – all of these things are part of the traditions of Armenia. And also treats from residents of nearby villages, organic products, fruits, wine, and tents with the kitchen of the capital’s restaurants.
Plan your trip to the festival overnight to visit the cave city of Khndzoresk the next day with a suspension bridge over the gorge, and buy online tickets for the cableway to Tatev Monastery in advance.
Wardawar Water Festival
When: July 19
How about getting back to childhood? On a hot July Sunday, all of Armenia celebrates the church holiday of the Transfiguration of the Lord Wardawar. Local residents, young and old, come out of houses with buckets of water and drench each other. Going out and staying dry is impossible. It doesn’t matter whether you go on business or to the store, are dressed simply or pompously – absolutely everything will get wet from head to toe. Those residents who do not share the universal joy of dousing on this day are prudently sitting at home, motorists tightly close windows and lock doors, because they risk getting a stream of water right at the red traffic light. Want to see how Armenians water each other with water so that life is long and happy? Go to hot Yerevan in mid-July.
Areni Wine Festival
When: October 3
It is no coincidence that the oldest and largest wine festival is held in Areni village, a two-hour drive from Yerevan. “Areni” is a leading autochthonous grape variety from which most Armenian winemakers make their own wines, gaining recognition from international critics and experts. This variety grows only in the Vayots-Dzor region, where the heart of Armenian winemaking is located.
The festival gathers around itself not only tourists, but also residents of nearby villages and districts, and this is a unique opportunity to see a real, not polished authentic country for tourists. The main event of the festival is the blessing of the first grape harvest and its crushing by feet in a huge barrel. By tradition, only young and pure maidens are supposed to put pressure, but this fact does not stop experienced women at all.
At the festival, you can try both the wines of already recognized and eminent winemakers, as well as a simple young wine right from the canister from local farmers. Pomegranate, raspberry, strawberry, currant – it would seem that such wine is drunk like juice, but now you, quickly getting to the beat, dance with the Armenian ensemble Kochari and without hesitation, under a flurry of applause of the locals say “Yes sirum yem Hayastany” (“I love Armenia”).
We hope you found this article useful and informative. If you would like to explore the country further but not sure where to go and what to do in Armenia, we recommend you have a look at posts of our blog by tag “Armenia”.
Photos from sources: yandex.ru, triptoarmenia.am, magput.ru, arka.am