Yough Pioneer Tours

Festivals in Transnistria: 4 of the best

Transnistria is a land we know and love. YPT have been pioneering travel there for almost a decade and have experienced almost everything it has to offer. The rebel republic broke away from Moldova as the USSR fell and today stands as a land where the clocks are seemingly set to Soviet o’clock.

Whilst every trip to Transnistria is inherently bizarre, every year, the republic holds an array of festivals and holidays and they are always a sight to behold, whether they’re Soviet-era tanks storming down October 21st Street, supermodels parading past a statue of Lenin or mass Orthodox baptisms in the freezing Dniester river! As many of these festivals are unknown outside of Transnistria, we decided to give you the lowdown on each one!

4. June 8th-9th: Tiraspol Fashion Show

Every summer on June 8th and 9th is the Tiraspol Fashion Show. Unlike Paris or Milan, which often feature a dull catwalk, the models here parade past statues of Lenin outside the House of the Soviets or a WW2 battle tank, providing a stark image of the post-Soviet world. It’s possible to book a table at the fashion show with bottles of Vodka, Moldovan wine and a private BBQ for around $20 – certainly one of the cheapest fashion shows in the world! YPT often arrange private tours to Transnistrian fashion shows, with a healthy mix of classic Soviet, WW2 and Transnistrian civil war sites thrown in. Contact us for more information.

3. May 9th: Victory Day

Festivals in Transnistria: a police officer stands guard as soldiers march behind him in Tiraspol, Transnistria.

During WW2, the USSR lost over 20 million people in what is known in the post-Soviet world as the Great Patriotic War. As a result, the 9th of May is one of the most important dates in the Russian world. Victory Day – or Den Pobedy – both celebrates the defeat of Fascism and mourns the victims of a conflict that disproportionately affected the countries of the USSR. With Transnistria being a hardcore Russian breakaway state, no expense is spared in their May 9th celebrations. In the capital, it’s not uncommon to see a line of original T-34s roaring down the street followed by soldiers dressed in the period uniform of the Red Army. Every village and town hosts its own specific celebrations and it’s not uncommon to see WW2 weaponry being fired and offered to civilians to handle. Our Ultimate Transnistria Victory Day tour gets you a front row seat to the May 9th celebrations before heading north and exploring this fascinating rebel republic in depth.

2. January 19th: Orthodox Epiphany

Festivals in Transnistria: a young woman wearing a transparent white robe and bikini plunges into freezing waters during the Orthodox Epiphany festival in Transnistria.

January 19th is a sight to behold across the Orthodox Russian World: this is the Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany and, in the frozen Dniester river in Tiraspol, the ice is smashed and a ladder placed into the water for Russian men and women to submerge themselves in baptism. Only the most penitent of sinners need apply! Plunging oneself into a frozen river isn’t easy work. Luckily, on the riverside are banyas (old-school Russian saunas), BBQs with fresh lamb, chicken and pork, and (naturally) a seemingly unlimited supply of real Russian vodka and homemade wine!  YPT often arrange private tours to the Orthodox baptism holiday in Transnistria and can gain you front row seats to this fascinating, hardcore ritual. Get in touch for more details!

1. September 2nd: Independence Day:

Festivals in Transnistria: children clamber on a tank as adults look on during Independence Day festivities in Tiraspol, Transnistria.

September 2nd is arguably the most important holiday in Transnistria. This is the day of independence for the republic and the anniversary of victory over Moldova. Every year October 25th street in Tiraspol (the Transnistrian capital) is closed off for an enormous military parade and display of military power . Delegates from the other breakaway states of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh travel to attend. The celebrations are kicked off by thousands of marching soldiers and run right through the day and into the night with party boats, concerts and fireworks. Our classic Transnistria National Day tour gets you to the heart of the action and allows you to get mind-blowing photographs of one of the last Soviet-style military parades left in the world!

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