The custom "Christmas Tsars" in Belarus. UNESCO World Heritage Site

The custom “Christmas Zar” takes place on the so-called “generous evening” (Shchedry vetscher) – in each case from 13 to 14 January.

In 2009, the unique Belarusian folk custom “Christmas Zar” was included in UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage. This custom exists only in the village of Semezhevo (Kopyl district, Minsk region).

The history of the custom has its roots in the 18th century, when units of the tsarist army were stationed near the village of Semezhevo. Legend has it that during the New Year celebrations soldiers and officers walked around the courts in the old style (Julian calendar) and performed comedies. In return they were served by the landlords. After the troops had left the village, the locals not only preserved the tradition, but also developed it into a unique Christmas tradition.

The custom “Christmas Tsar” combines elements of carnival and folk drama. These include folklore, decorative and applied arts and special Christmas dishes.

In whose house the “tsars” were, according to popular belief, peace, harmony and wealth prevail throughout the year.

The custom has developed into a permanent institution in the cultural life of the country, which is celebrated by a large number of locals and tourists.

Take the opportunity to visit Belarus in winter and combine it with our Minsk trip.

06/11/2019

In Minsk there is a free festival for Jewish music.

The festival of Jewish culture and klezmer music “Litvak Klezmer Festival” is held on November 7 and 8 in Minsk at 16 Oktyabrskaya Street.

Klezmer is the traditional folk music of Jews from Eastern Europe and a special style of their performance.This is a very important event for Belarusian culture. Jewish culture has always been an integral part of Belarusian culture. The Litvak Klezmer Festival is an attempt to revive it.

In 1791 the Russian tsarina Catherine II founded the so-called settlement rayon for the Jewish population of the Russian Empire. This also included the Belarusian territories, which were annexed to the Russian Empire. Jews could only live in approved cities and towns. After the establishment of the settlement rayon, the Jews began to predominate among the population of Belarusian cities. According to the 1897 census, 91.000 people lived in Minsk, 47.000 of them Jews.

But due to emigration, anti-Semitism policies in the Russian Empire and the USSR, and the Holocaust in World War II, Jewish culture in Belarus practically disappeared completely. That is why attempts are being made to revive it.

The festival is attended by musicians from the USA, Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Austria – more than a dozen musicians and bands. They will perform traditional klezmer music.

The festival also includes creative master classes, dance classes, exhibitions, and an extensive food court. Everything will be dedicated to klezmer music and Jewish culture. The musical program with concerts starts at 15:00 and lasts until 23:00.

If you are interested in Jewish culture and history, you can visit our capital on these days and also get to know it better on our Minsk city trip.

We can also help you to learn more about the history of your family and the fate of your ancestors. Join us on one of our genealogy tours.

16/10/2019

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed the decree № 351 “On stay in border zones”.

According to the decree, foreigners no longer have to pay for entry and temporary stay in Belarusian border zones. Until then, many border regions in Belarus had limited access with special passes (e.g. in the border region of Grodno or the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park near Brest).

The free special identity cards are issued by the territorial border police authorities. They can also be issued electronically.

This innovation will make it easier for foreigners to stay in the border zone and increase the attractiveness of the area for tourists.

We will be happy to help you with your application or with any questions you may have about your stay in the border regions.

You can discover one of these exciting regions on our round trip through Belarus.

24/09/2019
In front of Minsk City Hall Belarus

From 13-15 September 2019 Minsk celebrates the Day of the City. On these days numerous events take place. The founding year of Minsk is 1067. This year Minsk will be 952 years old. The festivities begin with an official laying of a wreath at the monument of the hero city Minsk in the center of the city.

Minsk coat of arms

Coat of arms of the city Minsk Belarus

The Minsk coat of arms is depicted in the form of a baroque shield. The Virgin Mary is depicted on a blue background.

The following events, among others, are planned for the Day of the City:

  • The “H.O.G. Rally Minsk 2019” Festival. Here motorcyclists from all over the world celebrate the end of the season, with numerous actions and the traditional “Poker Run” to the most interesting places in Minsk for motorcyclists and bus tours through the city for all who are interested.
  • As part of the festivities, a public wedding of nine wedding couples will take place under the motto “Nine stories of love” (In the concert hall of the Upper Town, LINK).
  • The world-famous IT company Wargaming (World of Tanks) organizes its traditional festival “Tank Rifle Day”. More than 200,000 guests from 28 countries are expected to attend this festival. Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian groups as well as the legendary band “The Offspring” will take part in the musical part of the festival. LINK
  • As part of the Day of the City there will be an international festival on the history of ancient Minsk. Guests can learn more about the eventful history of Belarus, from the Late Palaeolithic to the Second World War.

On Saturday evening the guests can expect a big fireworks display.
You can learn more about the city of Minsk, its history, culture, architecture and the life of its inhabitants on our Minsk trip.

12/09/2019
Great stone industrial park Minsk Belarus

Europe’s last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, is in trouble: The EU criticises him for violating human rights and freedom of expression. And Russia is said to want to annex the small country. So he is looking for supporters – and has found them in China.

Investors from the Far East are to build a small town near the capital Minsk, with Sichuan-style architecture, bilingual street signs and the „Beijing Alley” as the main street. A corresponding agreement with the city of Chongqing was recently signed. It alone has three times as many inhabitants as all of Belarus. The employees of Chinese investors will probably live in small China near Minsk.

Lukashenko had an 11,000 hectare special economic zone established. Companies such as Huawei do not have to pay taxes there for ten years. The ruler hopes that “high-tech companies” will be lured into his country. Chinese banks would also provide Lukashenko with loans amounting to around nine billion dollars.

Belarus already has eight billion in debt in China, which is about 13 percent of the gross domestic product. As a sign of the unbreakable friendship between Belarus and China, a small Belarusian town will be built in Chongqing. The Minsk City Hall and the famous Nyasvish Castle will be rebuilt. You can see the original on our exciting journey around Minsk.

(Source: SPIEGEL 33/19)

17/08/2019
Republic of Belarus

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed Decree No. 300 “On the introduction of visa-free entry and exit procedures for foreign nationals”.

Previously, there were two separate visa-free zones for the areas around Brest and Grodno, which have now been merged into the visa-free area “Brest – Grodno”. It includes five other districts of the Grodno region.

For citizens from 73 countries, the duration of the visa-free stay for tourist purposes increases to 15 days in this region.

At the same time, visa-free entry to Belarus is allowed for up to 30 days via the border checkpoint at the national airport in Minsk (according to the decree № 8 of 9 January 2017 with amendments coming into force on 24 July 2018).

Detailed information on visa-free travel to Belarus and other travel details can be found here.

15/08/2019

On August 24 the 5th Festival of Georgian Culture “Tbilisoba” takes place in Minsk.

This year “Tbilisioba” will be held under the motto “Georgian-Belarusian Friendship” and both Georgian and Belarusian groups will perform.
Guests will be offered Georgian specialties such as shashlik, khinkali, and harcho, as well as performances by famous Georgian and Belarusian artists.

The first festival “Tbilisoba” took place five years ago and the Minsk people liked it so much that it was followed by a series of days of other national cultures. But the Georgian festival is still the most popular among the inhabitants and tourists of the city: last year the festival was attended by about 80,000 people. The Georgian festival was the first cultural festival at which the Minsk authorities allowed the festival to continue until midnight.
The fifth edition of “Tbilisoba” will again take place in the Upper City, the various stands with folk art and specialities of Georgian cuisine will extend as far as River Svisloch.

The Upper City is the historic city centre. Now the square of the Upper City is called Liberty Square. As a few centuries ago, many cultural events are held on Liberty Square today. You can learn more about the history and culture of our city and surroundings on our Minsk city tour.

14/08/2019
Palace of the Republic Minsk Belarus

Belarus is gaining more and more popularity among citizens of the neighboring countries, and with the new 30-day visa-free regime the number of travelers is gradually increasing. We compiled a list of ideas for spending your holidays here.

Best Things to Do in Belarus

Cultural Activities

Belarus has a truly rich culture. If you’re looking for ways to enrich your cultural life, you won’t be disappointed. Belarusian amateur artistic groups are recognized and popular in other countries and you can find many musical events around the country. All regional cities and even most of the small towns have museums, theatres and art galleries. Belarusian cultural heritage has centuries-old history, embracing several art and architecture schools and producing many unique literary works and pieces of music.

Sports Activities

The country actively encourages healthy lifestyle and builds various sports facilities, including:

  • football stadiums;
  • ice arenas;
  • swimming pools and waterparks;
  • ski resorts;
  • and many others.

The number of international championships held in Belarus is growing every year. In 2019, the major sports events set to take place are European Games and Summer Biathlon World Championship. In 2021 Belarus will co-host the IIHF World Championship with Riga.

Outdoor Activities

If you prefer just walking and relaxing over physical loading, there are plenty of parks to enjoy. Belarusian nature is the country’s main source of pride. There are five key national parks in the country. Berezinsky Biosphere Reserve, Braslav Lakes, Narachansky and Pripyatsky National Parks, and Belovezhskaya Pushcha are the largest parks in Belarus. Besides, Belovezhskaya Pushcha is in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Restaurant culture is actively developing in the country. New gourmet restaurants are opening every year while barmen create new cocktails and compete at international championships. Many restaurants provide live music as a part of their entertainment program. Besides that, you can treat yourself to a cup of good coffee and a delicious dessert in one of cafes or coffee shops. Also, there are a number of good restaurants offering Belarusian national cuisine and multiple venues offering fast food. Food festivals like GastroFest are regularly held in Minsk and regional cities, offering you to enjoy a set of delicious dishes at an attractive price. Rest assured that you will find something exciting to any taste and budget. Belarus nightlife is especially vibrant. There are many clubs to dance and listen to pop music. Many young people gather at bars on weekends for a cocktail and a nice talk. Still hesitating about what places to visit in Belarus? Book a tour at g4 tours! Go on a circular tour around Belarus if you want to see the whole country or we can create your own, personalized tour. Our consultants will be happy to help you. Get your personal travel plan now!

27/06/2019

Started in 1992 and held annually ever since, the International Festival of Arts “ Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk” has become a significant cultural event that attracts the attention of many popular singers and performers, actors, filmmakers, artists around the world. Vitebsk Festival includes a wide range of bright holidays and events where you will get into the carnival extravaganza and contest excitement, feel the purity and sincerity of children’s creative work, enjoy classical music and ballet, plunge into the world of theatre and cinema, and relish the calm atmosphere of museums and exhibition halls.

Thanks to the festival, Belarus has had a chance to see many foreign singers, performers, composers and bands. The town of Vitebsk has become the meeting place for world famous performers and artists.

The program of the Festival highlights such events as Young Singers’ International Song Contest; Children’s International Music Festival; “Theatre meetings” Program; Festival Exhibitions; Gala concerts and Shows Program.

This year the festival starts on 12 July and ends on 16 July. Additional events will take place three days before the inauguration and two days after the closing ceremony.

The programme of the International Art Festival 2018 in Vitebsk can be found on their official website.

The main venue of the festival, the Amphitheatre, was constructed especially for such occasion in 1988, and seats about five thousand spectators.

So if you decide to travel to Vitebsk for sure you won`t be disappointed… During the festival the whole city lives in the rhythm of infinite fun and good mood. Vitebsk blooms and gives its guest the most interesting and unforgettable moments.

31/05/2018
Tank Belarus

The Belorussian Tank Biathlon kicked off at the Stalin Line range, Loshany village, near Minsk on Saturday. Hundreds of people came to watch the T-72B tanks hit the targets and overcame the distances, destroying old Zhiguli cars and other obstacles on their way. Stalin Line Tank Biathlon is held for the third year with the support of the Belarus Ministry of Defence.

25/04/2018