Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London

© Murodjon Kahramonov
Author Nastya Konstantinova
Category Culture, Events, Lifestyle, People, Town
Date June 10 2024
Reading Time 4 min.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London

The UK’s largest festival of Uzbek culture and gastronomy took place in London this past weekend. This year marks the second annual festival, with a turnout of around 60,000 attendees. In 2023, up to 40,000 people attended the festival at Potters Fields Park overlooking the River Thames. The event hosted music and dance performers, chefs, fashion designers, as well as government representatives from Uzbekistan.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
Ravshan Usmanov © Murodjon Kahramonov

The festival opened with a speech delivered by Ravshan Usmanov, the ambassador of Uzbekistan in the UK. He praised the value of the event as a means of strengthening ties between the two nations and acknowledged the contributions of the Uzbek diaspora in England in organizing the festival. Usmanov greeted several honorary guests who arrived in London from Uzbekistan: member of the Presidential Administration Shukhrat Haydar, representative of the Ministry of Tourism Umid Shodiev, and chairman of the Vatandoshlar Foundation Odiljon Sattarov.

In conversation with London Cult, Usmanov revealed that the high-level organization resulted from large-scale, collective work:

Two hundred people arrived here from Tashkent to take part in the celebrations. Today, Uzbekistan is the only country in Central Asia that manages to host such events in the UK. Therefore, the goal is not solely to celebrate our country but the culture and heritage of the whole region. This way, we see an increasing interest and tourist flow in all countries of Central Asia, as well as the rise of people-to-people diplomacy.”

Usmanov also disclosed plans for future events in London that will celebrate the culture of Uzbekistan. In September 2024, the British Museum will open the “Great Silk Road” exhibit with a grand pavilion dedicated to Uzbekistan. It has been agreed to bring more than 100 artifacts from the country, including ancient walls from the town of Samarkand.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
Kamola Makhmudova © Murodjon Kahramonov

One of the highlights of the festival occurred during the presentation of the “Person of the Year” award curated by the Uzbek diaspora in the UK. The 2024 winner, Kamola Makhmudova, is one of the chief organizers of the annual event. She was awarded this prestigious title for her tireless energy, inspiration, and professionalism in bringing the local community together and endorsing multicultural relations.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
Bakhriddin Chustiy, Muzaffar Sadykov © Murodjon Kahramonov

The traditional Uzbek plov became one of the hallmarks of the festival. Once again this year, Bakhriddin Chustiy was in charge of preparing the main national dish. Awarded the “Person of the Year” title in 2023, the chef from the Chustsky district of the Namangan region in Uzbekistan graduated from the Cordon Bleu culinary academy in Paris and founded the company “Chustiy,” which practices the popularization of Uzbek culture and food abroad:

Our dream is to bolster awareness of Uzbek culture, traditions, and gastronomy around the globe.”

This year, the Chustiy project significantly increased the amount of plov at the festival: the chefs prepared 2 tons of the meal for each day of the event. Together with the OshPaz restaurant chain in London, they presented three types of plov for the guests: Chaikhan, Samarkand, and Tashkent wedding plov. Besides, for the first time this year, the traditionally male group of chefs was joined by a female chef, Guzal Said, who is also a graduate of Cordon Bleu.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
Giza Said © Murodjon Kahramonov

In addition to national culinary delights, the festival also showcased projects by Uzbek designers: avant-garde collections by Azukar Moreno, Anar, and presented modern interpretations of traditional Uzbek patterns. One of the trading tents demonstrated clothing from Markhamat Umarova’s brand MARu. Since its founding in 2006, Umarova has developed a global client base and organized fashion shows all around the world. She is also a patron of UNESCO, working within one of their programs to promote the cultural heritage of all regions of her home country. The philosophy of the MARu brand is “to create fashionable clothing with respect for traditions and harmony of the present.” Umarova is especially dedicated to sustainable fashion and the practice of upcycling:

Just imagine—you can turn an old piece of fabric hanging in an Uzbek home into a luxury tuxedo.”

The festival culminated with performances by musicians and dance ensembles who came from Uzbekistan to the British capital, such as Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan Alisher Fayz, People’s Artist of Uzbekistan Zhenisbek Piyazov, Kamron Erkinov, Hilola Babajonova, Afruza, Lola Ganzarolli Tursunova, Farkhodbek Ochilov, Ilkhom Akhmad, Khamidullo Mathalikov, Khurshid Ubaydullaev, and Inomjon Saidov. Members of the dance ensemble “Bakhor,” Mohirabon Ruzmetova and Nodira Seydzhanova, staged a dance flash mob “Andijan Polka,” involving attendees in the show. The first day’s performances concluded with a set of music hits from King Macarella, the best-known DJ in Uzbekistan.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
Camilla Anvar, Davron Kabulov © Murodjon Kahramonov

It took two months to assemble the program for the event. According to one of the producers of the concert, Uzbek artists worked together with a team of English-language technicians based in London. This is a vivid example of intercultural cooperation within the framework of the festival and the type of people-to-people diplomacy identified by the Uzbekistan ambassador, Ravshan Usmanov.

Uzbek Cultural Festival 2024: A National Celebration in London | London Cult.
© Murodjon Kahramonov

Although this year’s Uzbek culture and food celebration is over, the next festival will be coming back to London in the summer of 2025. Regardless, the cultural and business ties established through this event will continue to flourish in the years to come.

Event Organizers:

  • Uniting the Uzbek diaspora in the UK
  • Embassy of Uzbekistan in London
  • Tourism Committee of Uzbekistan
  • Public Foundation “Vatandoshlar”

Festival Sponsors:

  • Mone
  • Artel
  • Cappadocia Walton Restaurant
  • Yum recipe

Festival partners:

  • OshPaz
  •  Chustiy Group
  • Uzbekistan Airways
  • Tez Parcel
  • British Uzbek Society
  • Uzbekistan’s Club
  • MyMir
  • Bobo & Wild
  •  Bona
  • Uzbekistan Airways
  •  Arcadia Residence
  •  Tektonika Silk Road
  • UzSU