Finding hidden gems: supporting local festivals in Armenia

Aug 22, 2017

The village of Bjni, 13 August, - Each year people all across Armenia celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of St. Mary, one of the most awaited events of the year. At the church of the Holy Mother of God in the village of Bjni, Kotayk province, for whom St. Mary is the Patron, it is an even more important event and locals prepare for the day very carefully.

The festive mood starts early in the morning. Kicking off with the church service, the day continues with an extensive entertainment program for locals and guests. Children from the local dance ensemble AZD make a special performance prepared for the event, drawing crowds from the whole community.

‘’We have many guests this year, and we’re extremely happy to share our holiday and part of our culture with those from abroad. Hopefully they enjoy our festival and come back for more,’’ said Father Aristakes, who performed the liturgy that day.

This year was also important as UNDP’s ‘Integrated Rural Tourism Development’ project was involved. The project’s newly-established Research and Development center, intended to educate and support the Bjni community, played a key role organizing the event.  Lilit, coordinator at the village’s Research and Development center, made sure everything was perfectly designed for locals and tourists alike.

The festival was among the projects’ first involvements in organizing activities across Armenia’s smaller, but culturally rich communities. Soon, the project will be working with these communities much more frequently and systematically, working towards the goal of driving up interest in rural destinations throughout the country.

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The Integrated Rural Tourism Development project, which is financed by the Government of the Russian Federation and implemented by the UNDP in Armenia, aims to develop rural tourism as an income-generating activity in order to reduce rural poverty and create employment. The project is currently developing local infrastructure and supporting rural communities to develop into up-and-coming tourist destinations.