Festivals and Events
Celebrated only in Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral. Polo, foot-ball, volley-ball and hockey matches, folk dances and music.
The traditional “Ginani’’ festival has been celebrated in Central and Lower parts of Hunza valley, with traditional zeal and fervour. Main gatherings were organized in Altit and Aliabad villages. The local community has performed rituals at central places and also performed traditional dances on local tunes. Special traditional dish locally known as Dirum Pitti has been prepared to mark the festival.
Before the construction of KKH, the local community was totally dependent on subsistence farming and during the winter seasons most of the families were also facing shortages of foods. This festival was thus celebrated to mark the beginning of new harvesting season. During the time, when Hunza was an independent principality, these rituals were performed at royal courtyard. This event is called Ginani and Chineer in Hunza, Strublah in Baltistan and Ganoni in Gilgit.
Shandur Top (el. 12,200 feet (3,700 m) located in District Ghizer (Gilgit-Baltistan Province), Shandur-Top in Shandur is often called the ‘Roof of the World’. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November. The grade is very gradual, and the area is crossed by small streams of trout. Grazing in summer is plentiful.
Every year there is a Polo match played on Shandur Top between the home teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and guest teams from Chitral. Shandur Pass is one of the major mountain passes of Gilgit-Baltistan; the people who live on both sides of Shandur Top speak the Khowar language.
Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament which since 1936 has been held annually in the first week of July between the local teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral. The tournament is held on Shandur Top, the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes Folk music, dancing and a camping village is set up. The polo tournament is featured in the first episode of Himalaya with Michael Palin.
Various teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral have always played the game of polo closest to its original form. In the past, the British Rulers were the patrons of the game.
Free-styled mountain polo is arguably polo in its purest form. This version of the game played at Shandur-Top has attained legendary status and is of great interest to international and domestic adventure tourists alike. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred.
In order to decide the final teams to play at the Shandur Polo Festival preliminary matches are played both in Gilgit and Chitral in which the best horses and players are chosen for the final games by the local juries. The festival begins on the 7th of July with a polo match between the local teams of Ghizer Gilgit-Baltistan with the guest teams coming from Chitral (KPK). During the course of the tournament A, B, C and D teams of Gilgit and Chitral battle it out on the polo field. Each team has six members with 2-4 reserve players in case of injury etc. The match duration is usually one hour. It is divided into two halves, with a 10 minutes interval. During intervals the locals enthrall the audiences with traditional and cultural performances. The game decided in favor of the team scoring nine goals. The final is held on 9 July.
One of the major attractions of Pakistan Cultural Festivals are Kalash Valleys Festivals. The Kalash Valleys of Rumbur, Bunboret and Birir are within Chitral in the North-West Frontier Province, near Nuristan in Afghanistan. The people here are some of the only non-Muslims for hundreds of miles. The home of kafir Kalash or wearers of the black rose, a primitive pagan tribe.The Kalash are ancient tribe and have a religion and culture of their own; their culture is unique as well as amazing one. A legend says that one General Salik Shah, who was called by the Greek as General Sulfurous with five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of MACEDON, settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir Kalash. The Kalash are infamous for their festivals; these folks know how to let their hair down in style. There is much dancing where the elders chant legends with drum accompaniment and the women dance round outside. Locally brewed mulberry wine is drunk in copious quantities. The Kalash People celebrate three main festivals in year.
CHILAM JOSHI ( 14TH -15TH OF MAY)
They celebrate the arrival of spring season with new hopes and aspiration.
UCHAO O UTCHAL (19th – 20th August)
Kalash celebrate Uchao to celebrate because of grapes and other ripe fruit. They prepare wine, cheese, corns etc. and rejoice Uchao.
Festival on the Roof of the world where natural environs, landscape, privileged location in the highest mountains of the world, breathtaking spectacles of sheer scenic beauty, wildlife and nature, awe-inspiring snow peaks, glittering glaciers, serene valleys of lush green foliage and fruits, gleaming and scintillating streams of unpolluted water, rich diversity of people, culture, folklore, arts, crafts and heritage, await you.
Master artisans from remote parts of Northern areas will be at work in beautifully designed and documented pavilions.
Venues : (Gilgit, Aliabad, Gulmit, Karimabad & Skardu)
Folk dancers and musicians from all parts of Northern Areas including Dance, Song Ensembles from the neighboring Xinjiang Province of China and Central Asia will be invited to entertain visitors to the festival.
Small open air stages will be set up at the festival grounds in the different cities to present folk musicians from all over the Northern areas.
Exotic local bazaars will be held including Sunday & Friday markets for the local communities where people can sell, exchange or exhibit local produce, offering endless variety of cottage crafts, Knickknacks, flea-market, etc.
Food festivals will be held in co-operation with hotels and communities in several places. Farmers will exhibit and sell fruit.
Several Polo matches will serve as a major attraction for domestic tourists and foreign visitors at Gilgit and Skardu.
Will be set up at the scenic spots for nature lovers.
Depicting regional costumes and cultural traditions will be held.
AKCSP, AKRSP, and Craft Development Projects, Literary and Cultural Forums, IUCN, WWF, and other NGOs will hold community Festivals at district levels.
One of the few regions in the world that holds a fascinating combination of Adventure, History, Natural Beauty, Culture and Trade at the cross roads of Asia. The region and its indigenous heritage of arts, crafts, history, landscape, people, produce and cultures is a unique experience.