Top 8 Ethnic Festivals Celebrated in Xinjiang
People in Xijiang celebrate a lot of festivals each year. The people in Xinjiang are extremely friendly and welcome travelers to join in their festivals, celebrations and experience their unique way of life.
1. Nowruz Festival
- Location: Nowruz City in Xinjiang
- Celebrated: end of March
Nowruz Festival is Kazak people’s New Year. On that day, people pay New Year's visits to each other and cling to a variety of activities to welcome the New Year: singing and dancing, wrestling, playing tongue twisters, guessing games, flying kites, and playing hide-and-seek, and so on. A particularly interesting doing at this festival is a game called “Girl Chase”.
In Xinjiang, all national minorities believe in Islam and celebrate the festival. The word Nuoruz came from Iranian and means “Spring Water”, linking to the vernal equinox (4th solar term).
2. Corban Festival
- Location: Ethnic Groups Habitats in Xinjiang
- Celebrated: Every December 10th
Corban Festival is also called the Sacrifice Festival or known as Id al-Gurban. It is a major and very traditional Islamic festival showing faith and obedience to Allah. It is a ceremony rather than a festival because the word “corban” means sacrifice and self-devotion in Arabic.
Before the festival, every family will clean their house and bake some cookies and snacks. On the morning of that day, all men will take shower and clean their body and dress their best to go to the mosque to pray.
The ritual consists of the sacrifice of sheep or cows as well as fried cakes and Sanzi (a kind of Muslim food). All the give-up foods are separated into three parts: one for themselves, another for their guests and relatives, and the rest to be shared with the poor.
Muslims could visit their relatives as well as show their charity to the poor and the elder during the Corban Festival. This festival conveys Muslim's mutual aid, courtesy, and friendship in their souls.
During the festival, Xinjiang Uyghur people will dance the Maxilap or Dolang dance; there is a big bazaar selling all kinds of snacks and goods. Goat tussling, horse racing, wrestling, and other entertainments are prearranged.
3. Baroti Festival
- Location: Tajik Minority’ Habitat
- Celebrated: The first two days of August according to the Islamic calendar
Baroti Festival, also called the Lantern Festival, is a traditional religious festival of the Tajik People.
For those two days of festivity, every family makes a special kind of lantern coated with butter. When evening comes, the whole family will sit together, forming a circle around the lantern.
At night, every household will light another lantern, a big one tied to a long pole, and hang it under the roof; it is called Celestial Lantern. Men and women, young and old, sing and dance through the night under the bright light of the torches.
4. Grape Festival – Uygur people
- Location: Turpan, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in northwest China
- Celebrated: from August 20 to September 5 every year since 1990
The Grape Festival in the world-famous city of Turpan greets locals as well as international friends to celebrate together.
Turpan is the hometown of grapes and the Grape Festival is not just a celebration of Turpan`s most important agricultural product, but an opportunity to enjoy the local way of life.
During the annual Turpan Grape Festival, wedding ceremonies in the Uygur minority style and traditional singing and dancing activities are held. The trade fairs are also included. Besides, travelers may visit the grape, melon, and fruit streets; Hami-melon competition is organized.
Turpan Grape Festival is a special event to commemorate the ancient Silk Road which stretches 2000 km in Xinjiang out of the 4000 in China, with south, middle and north 3 routes crossing the area. Turpan is famous as a considered key point at the middle route; commercial camel teams travel Silk Road, as they have done for 2,000 years.
5. Saban Festival
- Location: Tacheng District, Yili District, Urumqi District
- Celebrated: The last ten days of June annually
Saban Festival, also called the Plowshare Festival, is held to celebrate the accomplishment of spring ploughing and pray for an abundant harvest in the autumn.
This big ceremony is hosted by Tatar people every year with various kinds of activities such as horse racing, dancing, wrestling, and other sports. Jumping and running competitions are especially very popular.
The most interesting sport is a running competition: each competitor holds a spoon with an egg on it and races others, the winner being the one who runs the fastest without dropping his or her egg.
6. Nadam Festival
- Location: Mongols Habitats in Xinjiang
- Celebrated: During the July and August, summer-autumn interval
Nadam Festival is a ten-day carnival for the Mongols The word “nadam” in Mongolian means “amusement and entertainment, or game”, so just fun.
Activities such as horse racing, wrestling, and archery are held. While singing and dancing in traditional style are also great highlights. Modern activities such as track and field sports, equestrian polo, horsemanship, tug-of-war, basketball, volleyball, and even motorcycling are included in the celebration of the Nadam Festival.
7. Fast-Breaking Festival
- Location: Ethnic Groups Habitats in Xinjiang
- Celebrated: Every September, at the end of Ramadan
As one of the most important festivals in Islamic culture, the Fast-Breaking Festival lasts three days for the ethnic groups to celebrate. Also called Roz Festival or Eid ul- Fitr often abbreviated to Eid marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
The joy and thankfulness of fulfilling the month-long obligatory fast are demonstrated through a special prayer as a community in the mosque, visits with family and friends, special foods, and the giving of gifts to the children.
A special charitable donation is also made, either a specific amount of food or money in the amount equivalent to the cost of a family meal. In some places, children are given gifts or money by their parents and relatives. Finally, Muslims will mourn for the dead, remember the past, and encourage themselves to create colorful life.
8. Xinjiang Dance Festival
- Time: from the end of July to the beginning of August
Xinjiang's diversified culture gave birth to a unique song and dance arts enabling Xinjiang to win the reputation of “the homeland of songs and dances”.
People come to enjoy top-class performances; dance organizations from abroad and domestic groups perform at the festival. Audiences can enjoy ballet modern dance as well as Xinjiang's traditional music and dance.