If you happen to be in the Caspian region this New Year’s, check out these four hot spots for some fun, food, and local hospitality!
Headed to Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku for the New Year holiday? Try not to miss the big fireworks display, considered a “must see” on December 31, as Azerbaijani’s ring in a new year and celebrate the national holiday Solidarity Day each December 31. Upland Park, the highest point in the city, is a great spot to catch a view of the balls of fire after enjoying some of Azerbaijan’s national cuisine. Also don’t miss out on the pop-up markets that pepper the touristy areas and streets of the city during the holiday season. Set along Fountains Square, the market can be easily found if you just follow the melodic and musical beats coming from the concert stage located there. Those heading to the Seaside Boulevard could enjoy the singing fountains, and see the fireworks being launched from warships in the Caspian Sea.
Kazakhstan’s capital city Astana has received a lot of attention this year, mostly due to it hosting the 2017 world’s fair, better known as EXPO 2017, and the first in the Caspian and Central Asia regions. While the Expo has come and gone, the excellent infrastructure and tourists amenities are there to stay, allowing visitors and businesspeople from around the globe to enjoy the country’s rich culture, cuisine and hospitality. If you’re in the city for New Years, stop by the city square right in front of the akimat, the city’s municipal building. Starting at 9:00 p.m. there will be a concert, while at midnight along the embankment of the River Ishim, residents and visitors to the capital can enjoy a grandiose fireworks display. When there, don’t forget to taste slow-cooked beshbarmak, the king of Kazakhstani cuisine!
Russians go ‘all out’ for New Years, celebrating for two weeks. Winter seems to be synonymous in the minds of visitors to Russia, so dive into the cold and enjoy the spectacular New Year’s festivities with the locals. Temperatures plummet to -15 degrees Celsius (5° Fahrenheit) these days, so people spend about two weeks off from work and school engaged in wintery activities like sledding, having snowball fights, building igloos and ice fortresses, and making snowmen. Russian cuisine offers a variety of options when you’re freezing cold, so don’t miss out on some ‘must try’ delicacies!
If you’re in Turkmenistan and can make it to the country’s capital, Ashgabat, strop by the many tourist shops flooded with New Year’s gifts, and enjoy the decorated streets with hanging posters, figures of Santa Claus and Alabai dogs - a symbol of the New Year for Turmenistanis. Elegant New Year trees, sparkling with colorful toys and lights, give the white marbled city tremendous and unique beauty. Caspian News put together 10 ‘must try’ dishes that are popular at holidays in Turkmenistan, so if you’re hungry, check them out!