Four Caspian cities – Baku, Astana, Ashgabat and Almaty – have made the list of the ten best destinations among the CIS countries to visit this fall, according to ratings recently released by Russia’s TurStat analytics agency. Kazakhstan’s capital Astana came in at number two, following Minsk, Belarus, while the former capital and largest city Almaty ranked sixth. Azerbaijan’s capital Baku came in at third, and Ashgabat in Turkmenistan stands in tenth place.
If you are bummed about summer coming to a close, take a trip to one or several of these destinations this Fall!
Kazakhstan’s current capital turns 20 this year, and residents have been partying all year long, with 650 separate events taking place – including many in the remaining months. If fine art is your thing, check out the Pablo Picasso traveling exhibition, which runs through November 3 and is being held at the National Museum of Kazakhstan. The exhibition includes dozens of ceramic crafts and engravings created in post-World War II France as well.
Jazz lovers can check out “Jazz Time,” a concert being held at the Astana Congress Hall on September 28, featuring pieces by Glen Miller, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Louis Armstrong.
If you are planning your visit for late September, don’t miss the 2018 World Judo Championships in Baku. Nearly 800 athletes from around the world will be taking part in what is the largest global judo sporting event, running from September 20–27.
Music lovers may enjoy the Rock Hits Show concert featuring famous rock tunes performed by the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra. On October 13, Russia’s conductor Igor Ponomarenko will mix rock and classical genres while performing world-famous rock hits by Deep Purple, Muse, and Queen, as well as Black Sabbath and the Rolling Stones. The event will be held at the Heydar Aliyev Palace.
From October 15 – November 15, Baku will be the epicenter for shopaholics, as it once more welcomes visitors and locals to the Baku Shopping Festival. The consumer extravaganza features a Value Added Tax (VAT) discount for customers at more than 400 stores across the city. Customers could get back the 18 percent VAT usually charged on most consumer goods, including on clothing, electronics, household appliances, perfume and cosmetics for purchases made over 100 AZN (USD $59).
The third Baikonyr Short Film Festival will be screening nearly 50 short films at the Kinoplexx Sary Arka cinema starting this Thursday, September 20. The festival will bring together filmmakers from the United States, Georgia, Russia, Lebanon, Latin America as well as show domestic productions from Kazakhstan.
Music fans will find something for themselves, too. “New York-Almaty” is a series of music events that reflect the culture of modern-day New York City with the “Motherland of Apples.” Artists from the Big Apple have been flown in for what is an all-out music extravaganza. The first part of the festival has already wrapped up, but if you’re in town from September 21-22, check out the second half. Concerts are being held at the SmArt Point open-air center.
Altyn Asyr Bazary, which means “Golden Century” in the Turkmen language, is the largest bazaar in the country and the fifth largest in Central Asia. This octagon-shaped construction is home to more than 2,000 stores, where you will find everything ranging from small souvenirs to gigantic handmade carpets.
Public transportation in Ashgabat is absolutely free! So, when budgeting for a trip to the white marbled Caspian city, forget about bus fares.