Dates: 20.03.2020 – 26.03.2020

Novruz Bayram or the Zorastrian New Year is now a public holiday in Azerbaijan. The most cheerful and long-awaited holiday of Azerbaijan – Novruz Bayram beckons, welcoming the spring season. Beginning a week-long celebration starting on March 20th, Novruz Bayram marks the start of the traditional new year. Novruz is the favourite holiday in Azerbaijan and means ‘new day’.

It falls on the vernal equinox, when day and night are of equal length. At its core, the Novruz festival celebrates the awakening of the natural life. This awakening symbolizes the triumph of good, winning against the evil forces of darkness that are represented by the Winter. Several things are used to symbolize the occasion, in Azerbaijan sprouted wheat is a favourite. This is grown in a small vase, which is called “semeni”. The celebrations begin four weeks before the actual day of Novruz. These four weeks – or, exactly four Tuesdays – are each devoted to one of the four elements and called correspondingly. On the last Tuesday before Novruz people light bonfires and jump over them. There are a number of sweets peculiar to Novruz, each symbolizing an aspect of nature and its awakening in spring. Shekerbura, pakhlava and shorgogal are three inseparable symbols all eaten at the spring holiday.

The colourful holiday is one of the most popular periods of the year for tourists to visit. Although there are many ongoing traditions and events throughout the season, the most well-known one is jumping over a bonfire on the last Tuesday (“Akhir Charshanbe”) prior to the season or during the week, jumping seven times over a bonfire to purify the soul and relinquish your sins before the start of the New Year.

Traditionally, Novruz is celebrated in Baku – where the annual festival is set up near the Gosha Gala Gates of Icherisheher (Old city) and the Boulevard for several days. The holiday invites both residents and visitors to enjoy many new experiences in Baku. This includes magician and rope walker performances, souvenirs and products of national craftsmanship, decorative arts, mugham, classical and jazz music concerts. In addition, participants can also indulge in traditional cooking activities, experimenting with local delicacies such as shekerbura and pakhlava; as well as savour delicious Azerbaijani kebabs and plov. Festivities take place across the entire country including Sheki, Shamakhi, Nakhchivan, Guba and Ganja.

Join the celebration at Bahar Qalası (Bahar Galasi) festival in Icherisheher from March 20-26 to enjoy concerts with traditional music and dances by local performers and singers from 12pm to 6pm at decorated streets and squares, and indulge at the cuisine sales points selling delicious food, sweets, and fruits.