The year's most flavorful festival takes place on August 12-13 in the ancient Silk Road city of Khiva in Uzbekistan. The annual Melon Festival attracts visitors from far and wide, and this year will be a bountiful one. Uzbekistan is one of the largest melon exporters in the world. The cold winters, hot summers and 300 days of sun a year produce about 100 different varieties! Each has a distinctive shape, color, scent and taste; from rich, creamy vanilla to sherbet or almond; every bite a refreshing, satisfying gift from the earth.
Uzbekistan's famous melons appear in ancient traveler's accounts, sent as gifts to foreign royalty, and carried across the Silk Road routes by caravan. They're highly prized here in Central Asia; traded, bought, sold and exported everywhere. They're eaten fresh, sun-dried and studded with raisins, or made into jam. They're chosen individually as they ripen in the fields and proffered to guests and passers-by to sample from proud farmers and merchants. Competition at the annual Melon Festival is fierce; for flavor, shape, size, and type. Melons are sculpted into flowers, animals and everyday objects, stacked in towers, or replicas of the local minarets. They're judged on creativity and craftsmanship, and the displays are truly amazing!
The Ichan Kala, the historical center of Khiva, is festival central this year. Filled with gems of medieval Islamic architecture and surrounded by ancient adobe brick walls, Khiva, in the Khorezm region, was the last oasis stop before the desert for caravans on the Silk Road route to Iran. The domed bazaar or tim of Khiva is located in the old caravanserai, the doors high enough to accommodate laden camels. The city itself is a living museum, the outstanding monuments, medressehs, and mosques reconstructed and restored during the Soviet era. Brilliant green tilework flashes in the sun and the walls turn a rosy pink in the desert sunset. Rooftop restaurants lure visitors to enjoy their evening watching the sky darken from midnight blue to black and fill with brilliant stars.
As with all festivals in Central Asia, our guests will have VIP access to traditional music and dance performances, puppet shows, art and handicraft exhibitions by regional artists, and workshop visits with masters in embroidery and woodworking. On visits with local families they learn to make plov (pilaf) over a wood fire and fresh round breads in a clay tandur oven (the perfect match for melon jams!). Sharing a meal and welcoming guests is an honor here in Central Asia, part of the unmatched tradition of hospitality you'll find everywhere.
For almost 30 years now, the Silk Road Treasure Tours Team has been welcoming travelers from all over the world to Central Asia's silk, spice, textile, dance, flower and melon festivals. Our clients have collected a lifetime of travel experiences in places like Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, Termez, Kokand, Tashkent, and Samarkand.Accommodations are carefully selected by our award-winning travel experts, and no interest or need is overlooked in our careful planning. Trusted and proven, our guests often return with us to discover new destinations.
We can't wait for you to join us at the most delicious of festivals here! Uzbekistan is a culinary destination. All the food is fresh and local, and melon is a fabulous seasonal addition to the menu. Khiva's specialty is a green noodle shiveet oshi made with dill. There are also dumplings and filled savory pastries to try, and a myriad of summer fruits and vegetables.
Visit this link to join our tours, or let us help you create your own itinerary to explore and experience legendary Uzbekistan.
The 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta (see our Facebook post from April) in praising Uzbek melons could not decide which region produced better:
"No melon can be compared with the Khorezmian ones except, maybe for the melons from Bukhara".
When: August 12-13, 2023
Where: Khiva, Uzbekistan
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