Stihia Festival: The World’s Most Isolated Electronic Music Event?

Stihia Festival Party-Goer

Against the backdrop of weathered, abandoned ships and a desert expanse that appears to embody the world’s edge, there lies a hidden gem, largely undiscovered by the wider world.

Stihia Festival is where carefree, fluorescent-clad youth stand alongside intrigued elderly local Karakalpaks, all immersed in the pulsating rhythm of drums and bass.

Blending music, arts, and science, the festival’s objective was twofold: spotlighting the environmental catastrophe of the Aral Sea and fostering sustainable growth in Moynaq, a city located in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in eastern Uzbekistan.

This year’s all-night festival takes place between 31st August and 2nd September 2023 and will see big changes to the event.

Stihia Festival in Moynaq
Abandoned Ships in Moynaq, Stihia Festival

All photos courtesy of photo_stihia2022 telegram channel.

Moynaq’s Aral Sea Ship Graveyard

The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world, spanning a huge area over the border of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and providing opportunity to its local communities. Due to the mismanagement of Soviet irrigation systems however, the lake has been drying out since the 1960s. The lake is now just a tiny fraction of what it used to be.

These days the lake is essentially dead, having dried out over the decades, leaving behind toxic pollutants which has created an environmental and economical catastrophe for the region.

Moynaq Ship Graveyard
Moynaq Ship Graveyard

The only clue that this used to be a lake is the iconic Moynaq ship graveyard. Comprising several rusty, deserted fishing boats resting on a barren, dusty terrain, with the occasional shrub, the site stands as a mere echo of its history.

2023 Changes to the Festival

In 2023, the festival organizers decided to move the festival from Moynaq to the more picturesque Tudakul Lake on the outskirts of the historical city of Bukhara in the Navoi Region of Uzbekistan.

Citing the need to “test new frontiers”, the new venue aims to provide a more accessible location and support tourism in a new region.

So has the festival sold out?

Not according to the organizers. They will still continue to support non-profit organization Stihia Gen, which encourages Moynaq youth to enhance their skills in fields such as IT, art and design.

While this new location might cost it some credibility points (after all, who’d pass up a desert party?), it appears that the festival is aiming to attract a broader audience while still preserving its remote and mysterious vibe.

A quaint yet welcoming festival, the gathering boasted a modest attendance of slightly over 500 participants in 2021, a remarkable feat for an event situated in such a remote location.

Solace in Moynaq
Solace in Moynaq

2023 Lineup

The Stihia lineup for 2023 features a diverse mix of international and local DJs representing various electronic music genres. The lineup is split across two stages: a techno stage and an experimental, progressive stage.

Stihia Festival Second Stage
Stihia Festival Second Stage

Derrick May: American techno pioneer and electronic musician from Belleville, Michigan.

Abadir: Cairo-born music producer and sound designer, known for experimental, club, glitch, and ambient music. Half of the duo 0N4B.

Matthew Dekay: Dutch electronic music composer and DJ, renowned for his contribution to emotive and melancholic house music.

SHXCXCHCXSH: An enigmatic Swedish duo with a decade-long reputation for their boundary-pushing sonic finesse, avoiding conventional labels like techno or avant-garde.

Salome: Berlin-based DJ and producer known for fusing electro, acid, and techno in her captivating sets

Other confirmed acts include Howie Lee, Shadowax, Voiski, Wacław Zimpel and local up-and-comer Josef Tumari who featured in Uzbekistan’s first and only Boiler Room show.


How to Get a Ticket For Stihia Festival 2023

Tickets for the festival can only be bought on their official website here. Tickets come in three different brackets, depending on proximity to the date but are all reasonably priced.

Earlybird tickets cost 350,000 Som ($30) but have already sold out for this year. General Release tickets can be bought for 450,000 Som ($38) up until 22 August at which point Final Release tickets will cost 550,000 Som ($47).

How to Get to Stihia Festival

Getting to the festival’s new location in Bukhara is comparatively easy.

The city of Bukhara has an airport and receives direct international flights from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg in Russia and Istanbul in Turkey.

Domestic flights also arrive from Uzbek capital Tashkent as well as Urgench.

Bukhara can also be reached by train from Tashkent and Samarkand and train tickets can be bought via the official government website. Train tickets do sell out quite quickly however so if you’re late to buy them (or the website isn’t working) you can buy guaranteed tickets via a third party.

The festival venue is located just by the Tudakul Lake and according to the official website its precise location is here.

In order to travel from Bukhara city to the festival you will need to take a taxi from the city center. The journey is roughly a 30 minute drive and will cost around $10 according to the organizers.

Read our guide to travel in Bukhara if you’re planning on an extended stay there.

Where to Stay

Camping at Stihia Festival
Camping at Stihia Festival

You have two accommodation choices, based on your desired level of comfort: camping or hotels.

If camping you’ll need to bring your own tent. Despite relatively high temperatures during the day time, Bukhara cools down to a comfortable 21°C (70°F) at night which is around the perfect temperature for most.

For a more comfortable experience, you can stay in one of the lodges of Lake Tudakul resort which is just a 5 minute drive from the festival although information in English is relatively scarce.

Alternatively, you can find plenty of accommodation in the city center of Bukhara and travel to and from the festival by taxi.

Hotel Ravshan Boutique and Hotel Mironshox offer excellent budget options at just over $20 per night. Bukhara Baraka Boutique Hotel and Wyndham Bukhara are two of the high-rated hotels in terms of comfort.

What to Bring to the Festival

The festival offers a catering area and a bar serving Uzbek food, snacks, and other fast food. You can bring your own food to save on costs but bringing your own alcohol is strictly prohibited

Protection from the sun such as sunglasses, a hat and sun lotion is advised as the afternoons can reach up to 35° at this time of year.

The festival has washbasins but showers are not advertised. From experience, sanitary products such as wet wipes and hand sanitizer can turn a sweaty raver into a (somewhat) more approachable human.

RELATED POST: Complete Guide to Traveling to Uzbekistan in 2023.

Stihia festival Photo Gallery

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