Kazakhstan’s festivals are as representative of the country’s culture as they are diverse. From events celebrating the tradition of music in the Astana International Contest of Kazakh Song to those testing the limits of human strength in the Khan Tengri Mountain Festival, there is something for travelers to enjoy throughout the year.
Held every year in March, this festival can be considered a celebration of the New Year in Kazakhstan. It is characterized by folk dancing, traditional music performances, polo matches, and most importantly, the sacrificing of sheep. After the sheep have been slaughtered, they are cooked and eaten by the locals which is meant to symbolize prosperity for the upcoming year.
Shared with the Kyrgyz people and held near the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border in August, the Chabana Festival, or Cowboy Festival, is an event which brings together local herders to take part in sports and recreation. One of the most famous, and most deeply rooted in Kazakhstan’s history, is "Chasing after the Bride," in which women are given a head start on horseback and pursued by men, also on horseback, in an attempt to catch them.
Khan Tengri Mountain Festival
A test of physical strength and endurance, the Khan Tengri Mountain festival is a grueling climbing event held every year in August. Over 500 participants from around the world try to reach the Khan Tengri Peak over 20 days. The event attracts big names as athletes Cimono Moro and Alexander Lvov.
Kazakhstan Golf Open
Golf enthusiasts will be happy to know that the annual Kazakhstan Golf Open takes place every year in September. Held in Almaty, the Open is a men’s pro tournament which draws the biggest names from around the globe. Making up one portion of the annual "Challenge Tour," the Kazakhstan leg offers golfers the highest monetary prize of all regions and is thus highly competitive.
Astana International Contest of Kazakh Song
In what can be considered a tribute to Kazakh music, the Contest of Kazakh song is held annually in September. Overseas performers from all over Poland, Uzbekistan and Germany compete to sing Kazakh songs in their native languages. The festival is a big event in Astana, with local choirs and children’s groups being called upon to accompany many of the contestants.