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Destination: Uzbekistan
Last updated: 23 Dec 2022

Music Festival "Sharq Taronalari" ("Melodies of the East") in Samarkand

History of the Festival

The international music festival "Sharq Taronalari" ("Melodies of the East") was first held in Samarkand in 1997. It was organized on the initiative of the first President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. Since then, the festival has been organized every two years, inviting performers and musical groups from all over the world. The goals of the musical forum were set by its organizers as the preservation and development of the best examples of national musical art and promoting them to international audiences; raising youth in the spirit of folk traditions, and establishing international relations between creative groups and musical performers from different countries.

Logo of the 2019 Festival
Logo of the 2019 Festival

The "Sharq Taronalari" festival has taken place 13 times.
  • 1997
  • 1999
  • 2001
  • 2003
  • 2005
  • 2007
  • 2009
  • 2011
  • 2013
  • 2015
  • 2017
  • 2019
  • 2022 (the festival scheduled for 2021 was postponed to 2022)

Participants and Organizers

The festival is hosted with the participation of the Uzbek Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Sports, the National Television and Radio Company, the Union of Composers, and Khokimiyat (province administration) of the Samarkand province. The musical competition is regularly supported by UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations for education, science, and culture.

Light & Sound Show on Registan Square
Light & Sound Show on Registan Square

The number of countries participating in the festival has been growing from year to year: in 1997 representatives from 31 countries performed at the first festival, jumping to as many as 50 countries in 2009.


The music festival takes place in Samarkand, on the famous Registan Square, which is the central attraction of the city. On the square, which is surrounded on its three sides by three luxurious madrasahs of Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tilla Kari, a colorful light and sound show is presented to the quests, which tells about the history of Samarkand from ancient times to the present day. It reflects the main milestones and epochs of Samarkand - from the first mentions of human settlements in this territory to the settlement of Afrosiab, through the time of the Mongol invasion to the heyday of Samarkand during the reign of Amir Timur, who is known in the West as Tamerlane. At that time, Samarkand became the largest and most powerful capital city on the Great Silk Road: cultures and crafts flourished here, and architects created magnificent examples of medieval architecture.

Huge Scenery for Musical Show
Huge Scenery for Musical Show

Samarkand is undoubtedly the most important city to visit for anyone who comes to Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Coming to this region and not having a tour of Samarkand would be an unfortunate and unforgivable mistake. Samarkand has a huge number of historical monuments, including the Registan Square, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Shakhizinda Mausoleum Complex, Ulugbek Observatory, Mausoleum of Haji Daniyar (St. Daniel) and, finally, Gur Emir Mausoleum, in which the remains of Tamerlane were buried. All these sights are of interest both to lovers of history, medieval culture, architecture, and crafts, as well as ordinary tourists, for whom immersion in the atmosphere of the medieval East can be a lifetime experience.

Program of the Festival

Over the years, the program of this grandiose musical show has been enriched with various entertainment events, including exhibitions and local handcraft fairs featuring folk costumes, musical instruments, and traditional household items and utensils. Local artists organize art exhibitions, various performances, and concerts. At the end of the festival which typically lasts for almost a week, a colorful gala concert and fireworks shows take place.

Musicians from other countries
Musicians from other countries

Since the festival is traditionally scheduled for late summer or early autumn, it coincides with the highest tourist season of late August-September-October. This is the best time to visit the Central Asian region, when after a hot summer a comfortable air temperature sets in, the bazaars are abundant with fruits and vegetables, and thousands of tourists from all over the world hurry to combine a cultural and historical tour of Uzbekistan with a visit to a picturesque musical show.

National Music, Songs and Dance
National Music, Songs and Dance

When will the next "Sharq Taronalari" festival take place? According to the schedule, most likely, the next festival will take place in 2 years, that is, in 2024.

Presentations, Media and News

Check this page for further updates with photo and video materials, audio in mp3 format, and presentations about the Sharq Taronalari festival.

Other attractions in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Madrasah and Mausoleum
Afrasiab Hill
Bagizagan Wine Factory/Cellar
Dahma of Shaybanids
Gur-Emir Mausoleum
Hazret-Hyzr Mosque
Ishrat-Khana Mausoleum
Khodja Akhrar Necropolis
Mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar (Saint Daniel)
Mausoleum of Kusam-Ibn-Abbas
Mausoleums of Abdi Clan
Memorial Complex of Imam Al-Bukhari
Observatory of Ulugbek
Registan Square
Ruhabad Mausoleum
Samarkand Paper Mill
Shahi-Zinda Central Group
Shahi-Zinda Northern Group
Shahi-Zinda Southern Group
Sher-Dor Madrasah
Temurid Female Necropolis
Tillya-Kari Madrasah on Registan Square
Tuglu-Tekin And Amir-Zadeh Mausoleums
Ulugbek Madrasah on Registan Square