Astana – the capital of Kazakhstan
Astana is the glittering showpiece of 21st century Kazakhstan. The country’s new capital has risen suddenly from the northern steppe, and its fantastical, futuristic skyline is the work of famous architects from around the world. It’s a multi-billion dollar city, and unashamedly so.
World EXPO 2017
From 10 June to 10 September, Astana is hosting Expo 2017, the World Fair. The theme is “Future Energy” and more than 100 countries have set up national pavilions showcasing the very best of their technology, art, and culture. The site is centered on a vast glass globe — the largest spherical building in the world — the entire surface of which is photovoltaic, generating electricity from the sun.
There’s certainly no better time to visit Astana than when the Expo is in full flow. There’s an action-packed program of events by internationally acclaimed performers — it really will be quite a party! Here are 10 reasons to book your trip with Kalpak Travel now.
Symphony of Great Steppe Show
The cultural highlight of Expo Astana is the Symphony of Great Steppe Show, which runs nightly from 10-14 June in the Expo’s purpose-built amphitheater. An extravaganza of costume, music, dance, and visual effects, the show tells the multifaceted history of the Kazakh people. Myth and legend feature prominently in the spectacle, which will be akin to an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Cirque du Soleil
French-Canadian circus troupe Cirque du Soleil have pushed the very concept of the circus to its limits. Their touring spectacles sell out theaters from London to Las Vegas. Cirque du Soleil has created a new show, REFLEKT, especially for Astana Expo, and it runs nightly from 16 June to 10 September. Inspired by the history of Kazakhstan’s nomadic culture, the show tells of a futuristic vision where ancient past, technology, and modernity collide in a high-energy, acrobatic visual experience. REFLEKT is exclusive to the Expo, so this is your only opportunity to see it.
The Evening Parade happens every night of the Expo in the exhibition area. The parade’s theme is the four elements — sun, earth, water, and wind — and the energy which they create. Hundreds of performers are participating from across Central Asia. Dancer Alina has been practicing for months. “It’s a matter of great pride,” she says, “that so many people will see us blending our traditional and contemporary styles. Our parade is a reflection of our country, Kazakhstan. It too mixes old and new.”
Celebrated American DJ Steve Aoki will be performing at Astana Expo on 29 July. He’s ranked by DJ Mag and Forbes as one of the best and most highly paid DJs in the world, his album Wonderland was nominated for a Grammy, and he’s done live shows in more than 40 countries. Expect an exciting, ear-bleedingly loud show with plenty of big name guest artists.
Evening Show at the Sphere
The Expo’s central structure, the Sphere, becomes a 3D stage for a short but intense nightly show. The dramatic music is synchronized with lasers, digital projections, and shooting flames for an impressive multi-sensory experience.
The touring exhibition of the Museum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army will be in Astana throughout the Expo. Hosted by the National Museum of Kazakhstan, it is a prime opportunity to see not only the statues of warriors, but also weapons, dishes, and gold and silver adornments. Tickets must be booked in advance and are available online.
Widen your appreciation of world pop music with two multi-artist concerts by Kazakhstan’s leading pop stars. Gakku: Future Energy of the Earth (23 June) and Gakku: Future Energy of the Sun (13 August) both feature more than 20 Kazakh artists, including Moldanazar, Ali Okapov, Zhanar Dugalova, Dinara Sultan, and more. Like Eurovision or Top of the Pops, these concerts really area over the top extravaganzas with cutting edge stage design, digital media, special dance performances, and elaborate costumes.
Astana celebrates the anniversary of its foundation each year on 6 July. This year is Astana’s 19th birthday, and as the date coincides with Astana Expo, the party will be bigger than ever! Capital Day is a public holiday and a huge open air concert — free for everyone to attend — will take place in the center of the exhibition ground.
Operalia Opera Competition
Placido Domingo’s Operalia is the most prestigious vocal competition in the world, and for the first time, it’s being held in Astana. 40 talented singers will compete in three rounds, with the finalists performing in a gala concert, conducted by Domingo himself, and accompanied by the Astana Opera Symphony Orchestra. The competition has previously been held at the Palais Garnier in Paris, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, and the Royal Opera House in London, which should give you an indication of the caliber of singers competing. Tickets are available online.
Award-winning Dutch DJ Afrojack will be manning the decks at the Expo’s amphitheater on 11 July. One of the highest-paid DJs in the world, who headlines at sell out music festivals such as Coachella, this is your chance to see him perform for free. You can expect to hear some of his most famous works, including tracks he has produced for Madonna, Chris Brown, and Beyonce.