International festival of handicrafts in Kokand

Every two years in September, the ancient city of Kokand in Fergana region of Uzbekistan will turn to be the liveliest and brightest city in Uzbekistan. It’s all thanks to the International Festival of Handicrafts, which debuted in 2019 and was the first large-scale event focused on bringing awareness to the rich history and culture of Kokand.

Kokand, a city with a unique oriental spirit, is included in the World Craft City list, the first city from the CIS to be awarded this status. It was appropriate, therefore, that it be chosen to host such a festival. It was organised by the Hunarmand Association, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Culture, the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Tourism Development, and the Art Academy, Academy of Sciences, and local governments of the Fergana Region. Among the attendees were state and public figures, more than 370 skilled craftsmen, scientists and specialists, artists and cultural figures, as well as honoured guests from 78 countries around the world.

The goal of the festival was to tell the story of Kokand, a city which was a stopping point for the great Silk Road caravans. Since those ancient times, the local population has been engaged in arts and crafts, and to this day they still maintain the region’s heritage and fine traditions. The festival became not only a reason to showcase the talents and skills of local artists and craftsmen, but also a way to revive and preserve those traditions, and to exchange experiences between different schools of crafts, from woodcarving and metalwork, to ornamental painting and other. The event also inspired the youth — the future generation of craftsmen — and built a bridge that connecting them with the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev also highlighted the importance of this event in developing the tourism potential of Uzbekistan.

In the heart of Kokand, in the famous Khudoyar Khan Palace, the festival united hundreds of participants from different regions of Uzbekistan and countries of the world. Traditional folk music accompanied the festival, which truly set the mood and inspired visitors to sing and dance along. Along with this music, visitors had the chance to enjoy exhibitions about the history of crafts, watch competitions between craftsmen, try the national cuisine, visit Kokand’s sites, attend master-classes led by foreign and local craftsmen, get acquainted with Uzbek fashion at Kokand Fashion Week, and more. The conference component of the festival was devoted to the prospects of handicraft and applied arts, and was attended by 36 researchers from 26 countries. The Kokand Resolution on the Development of Applied Arts and Handicrafts was signed. The closing of the festival was marked with an awards ceremony and gala show, followed by fireworks which definitely left the guests with unforgettable memories.