Vardavar: what to expect from the water festival happening in Yerevan

Water festival in Yerevan

Have you ever heard about one of the most fun summer festivals celebrated in Armenia? I am sure you probably get the answer right, it is the water festival called Vardavar. You cannot miss this opportunity to participate in it as this tradition is one of those kinds that you can’t find elsewhere. The fun is guaranteed especially when it’s hot in summer and an extra bit of water on the skin won’t bother you so much.

The water festival, Vardavar, is celebrated on the 14th Sunday after Easter which falls in the month of July. It usually takes place near Swan lake and Republic Square where people drench each other with water. This festival represents that people get away from sins and get cleaned which also unites people and brings joy.

In this post, you will learn more about how and why we celebrate the water festival every year. And of course, I have some useful tips for you if you take part in the festival. Well, it will be hard not to participate as you have no choice when people attack you with water 🙂 After you experience Vardavar, I would like to hear your impressions of the fest. So, please share them with me on Instagram or Twitter with #ArmeniaTravelTips.

How do we celebrate the Vardavar in Yerevan?

If you plan to visit Yerevan in July, chances are you’ll experience our annual water festival – Vardavar. July is one of the hottest months in Yerevan, making it the perfect time to organize such a festival. It is celebrated literally everywhere in Armenia but a crowd of people usually gathers at areas with lots of water such as Swan lake or Republic Square. These are the most common locations for our water festival as you have unlimited access to water.

You’ll see people with buckets full of water or even with hoses and squirt guns running towards you to water you. You can get creative with whatever equipment you want to use for storing water to be truly prepared for Vardavar. Even the Yerevan Municipality participates in this festival. They provide all the conditions necessary to make the day more enjoyable for everyone. They even organize a traditional parade with water trucks to set up the mood and create a fun atmosphere.

This water festival is literally for everyone as it’s really hard to not be a part of it. Everyone loves this Armenian tradition and is looking forward to this day with excitement. If you decide to go out on Vardavar you’ll most likely get soaked in water even in your own neighborhood. My suggestion would be to always be ready for it. Someone might dump water on you from their balconies so you better watch out 😉.

Watch the video below to see what a typical Vardavar looks like in Yerevan. Also, if you are interested in other popular festivals happening in Yerevan, you can check out my posts about beer and wine festivals.

Why do we even have a water festival?

The water festival that we often call Vardavar originally comes from ancient pagan times. The pagan people used to celebrate this festival by pouring water over each other and giving roses to Astghik. She was considered to be the Goddess of love, beauty, water, and fertility. And the word Vardavar is a combination of the two Armenian words; “vard” meaning “rose” and “var” meaning “rise.”

After adopting Christianity, we decided to still keep this tradition as it was really fun and brought joy to people’s hearts. Giving Christian meaning to old traditions also explains how Armenia remained Christian. However, since then the interpretation of the water festival has changed. And now pouring water over people basically signifies that they get away from all the sins and start healing. I really love the meaning and the way we celebrate it. I’m sure you’ll also have so much fun during Vardavar.

This tradition also attracts many tourists to Armenia as people really seem to love it. After Armenia’s independence, we started giving more importance to the celebration of the water festival. Now, it’s the loveliest festival of all. When you visit Armenia on Vardavar you’ll see people of different ages participating and enjoying the coolness they feel on a hot summer day.

It is celebrated in every small or big corner of Armenia, villages, urban cities, or even your own neighborhood. Sometimes you don’t even have a choice to decide if you want to be a part of this festival. It’s because no one asks before drenching you with water. No excuse and justification are accepted so you better follow the rules of the game and only have fun 😉.

Useful tips for taking part in the water festival

As you already know, it would be hard or even impossible to escape from people pouring water over you on Vardavar, even if it’s your wedding day. 😀 So, for that reason, I prepared a list of some useful tips you might appreciate to be more ready for the water festival. Let’s get into it!

  1. Wear dark color clothes: Be aware that you will probably get wet even if you go out to buy some groceries. You might want to save yourself the trouble and wear dark clothes to avoid being seen naked by everyone. 😀
  2. Bring a change of clothes: Definitely have a different set of clothes in your car that you can change after you are completely soaked in water. Even though the summers are hot in Armenia, you might still want to change after enjoying the coolness for some time.
  3. Don’t take expensive things with you: You might want to leave your expensive devices (phone, computer, camera, smartwatch) or wallet at your hotel cause they might get damaged from water. Only take those with you if it’s extremely important and necessary. You still need to be ready to get drenched in water so you can’t get mad at people even if it costs you extra money. But if you’re lucky people might not fully water you if you tell them you have a phone or money with you.
  4. Have fun with us: Even if people approach you from behind and pour water on you without asking, don’t get irritated. Instead, embrace it and enjoy the festival, feeling that you’re one of us.

Final thoughts on the Yerevan water festival

I believe you already learned what you need to know about the water festival and I am sure you’ll love it. Just be prepared to get wet on the day of Vardavar and enjoy the fest to the fullest. That’s all you need to care about. Also, don’t forget about the color festival and make you sure you again follow the tips to be prepared 😉. At the end, experiences are what’s left to us so enjoy!

Also, if you like having fun at crazy festivals I would recommend you to read this post about the best time to visit Armenia. You will find lots of other festivals that you might consider taking part in during your trip to Armenia. And I will look forward to hearing about the fun experiences you had during Vardavar. So, please share them with me on Instagram or Twitter with #ArmeniaTravelTips.

Featured image credit: laydown on Pixabay

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