Winter Festival -46°C: Amasia festival and LAG’s activities in Shirak - Mediamax.am

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Winter Festival -46°C: Amasia festival and LAG’s activities in Shirak


Photo: Mediamax

Husik Sargsyan
Husik Sargsyan

Photo: Mediamax

Harutyun Harutyunyan
Harutyun Harutyunyan

Photo: Mediamax

Sissian Poghosyan
Sissian Poghosyan

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax

Photo: Mediamax


Despite the warm weather of February 24, it was a perfect day for holding the second Winter Festival-46°C in Amasia, north of Shirak.

Winter Festival -46°C was implemented by the local active group (LAG) Northern Way with the support of the LEAD4Shirak program and Armenia’s Tourism Committee.

Organizers facilitated transportation for festival participants, offering buses from Yerevan to Amasia and back, allowing access to the snow-covered mountains of Shirak. Throughout the event, winter sports enthusiasts indulged in activities like snowboarding, skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and mountain skiing, while also enjoying a variety of winter entertainment and games. Local residents presented delicious food, beverages, and handmade items at booths installed in the area.

Harutyun Harutyunyan, manager of the Northern Way LAG, highlighted the significance of Winter Festival -46°C, emphasizing its pivotal role in fostering tourism development in northern Shirak. He expressed optimism that this event could serve as a hallmark attraction not only for the region but for entire Armenia.

Harutyun Harutyunyan Harutyun Harutyunyan

Photo: Mediamax


“Winter Festival -46°C is the first event of its kind in the Shirak region, but is based on small local events like Ashotsk Winter, Amasia Winter and Shirak Winter, each with its own focus on winter sports competitions. However, -46°C has evolved the format, inviting attendees to simply have a great time and enjoy winter fun. We are trying to create a cooperative atmosphere, and it seems we are succeeding in it. We encountered some cooperation problems during the inaugural festival, but we have since overcome them,” said Harutyun Harutyunyan.

Photo: Mediamax


Harutyun Harutyunyan emphasized the pivotal role of the Northern Way LAG in organizing the winter festival.

“These groups unite different people who design their own way for the development of the region and implement joint initiatives. We are organizing this festival for the second year and strive to do better in the future. The LAG lays the foundation for an important tourist experience, trying to become a structure that enhances the tourist potential of the region,” the manager of the Northern Way LAG told Mediamax.

Photo: Mediamax


Currently, three LAGs are active in Shirak region: Aragats Hovit, Central Shirak, and Northern Way, each with its own strategic approach tailored to its respective communities.

Husik Sargsyan, head of the LEAD4Shirak project, noted that the primary objective of Winter Festival -46°C is to enhance the visibility of the regions and create common values so that those living in the community identify themselves with these values.
Husik Sargsyan Husik Sargsyan

Photo: Mediamax


“Many local volunteers have joined us this year. Last year, when we held the festival for the first time, only 4-5 volunteers joined us, this year their number reaches 30. For about ten days, these local volunteers have joined the organizers, helping in various work,” he said.

Speaking about the LEAD4Shirak program, Husik Sargsyan said that it is funded by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency. He noted that *LEADER represents the EU’s approach to the development of rural areas.

“In Europe, the LEADER approach holds legal significance, while in Armenia, it remains in the pilot phase until 2025, after which we will present it to the government for further deliberations. If deemed acceptable and promising, Armenia may adopt or adapt this approach for the development of villages. At its core, this approach aims to establish a partnership platform, a local action group (LAG), comprising members from local self-government bodies, businesses, and civil society. This will be an environment where local government officials, businesses, and civil society representatives collaboratively determine the directions for the development of their region. Tourism will be one of these key directions,” explained Husik Sargsyan.

Photo: Mediamax


He pointed out that the rapid growth of winter tourism in Amasia serves as compelling evidence of the considerable potential for rural tourism development across various communities in Armenia.

“Last year, we organized the Winter Festival -46°C with our own funds. We are delighted that this year the government authorities noticed us and the Tourism Committee provided financial support for the festival. This marks a significant advancement for us, as state support can contribute to the stability of -46°C. With state support, there’s optimism that the festival will continue to thrive. Our goal is to ensure Winter Festival-46°C becomes an annual event. We will register it, establish its brand, and designate it as the business of one of the local active groups, enabling the festival to cover its own expenses,” said Husik Sargsyan, head of the LEAD4Shirak program.
Sissian Poghosyan Sissian Poghosyan

Photo: Mediamax


Sissian Poghosyan, head of the Tourism Committee of Armenia’s Ministry of Economy, also noted that -46°C remains the only winter festival backed by the committee, emphasizing its significance in positioning Armenia as a year-round tourist destination.

“The Tourism Committee annually conducts open competition to support the implementation of various festivals. Last year, we supported 16 festivals and Winter Festival -46°C is the first this year. Apart from financial assistance, our team also engages in awareness activities to ensure broader awareness and participation. This festival is important not only for foreign tourists exploring Armenia, but also for domestic tourism. Personally, this is my first visit to Amasia. Festivals like these serve as another reason to explore our country and take interest in the cities and regions of Armenia,” said Sissian Poghosyan.

*The EU LEADER methodology is implemented by local action groups, LAGs, which being guided by a model of partnership and innovation, bring together representatives of local authorities, local businesses and local civil society to ensure tangible results and contribute to local development. The EU LEADER methodology in Shirak region is implemented by Lead4Shirak project co-financed by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency.

Ani Khchoyan

Photos by Agape Grigoryan




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