UNESCO City of Music

since 2017

Almaty is the largest city of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a population of over 1.7 million inhabitants. Since the 18th century, Kazakh artists have been known for their ability to produce musical and poetical improvisation. A vivid example is the Aitys, an impromptu contest of two singers (akins) performing folk poetry accompanied by stringed instruments. Building upon a rich musical legacy, Almaty was the home of nationally renowned composers Ahmet and Gaziza Zhubanov and Erkegali Rakhmadiev. Music in Almaty has strong local support and citizens are keen to be involved in the sector.

As a key component to Almaty’s urban culture, music spreads through a hundred open-air events held annually, including the AlmaFest. This festival built around the apple symbol of the city, integrates music, folk art and gastronomy through performance. The city also hosted the Colisium International Music Conference; a large-scale forum dedicated to discussing the latest trends of the concert industry as well as to exchanging knowledge between international and local music artists and professionals.

When developing the Almaty 2020 Development Programme, a number of issues in the creative sector were identified, particularly that of insufficient technical equipment within cultural institutions and a lack of qualified specialists in the field of cultural management. As a result, the City has provided these facilities with modern equipment, and in 2016, new musical infrastructure was built, including the Multimedia Traditional Music Centre and the Alatau Theatre of Traditional Art. At the same time, the City has effectively supported young professionals and artists through several grants and scholarships. Almaty is strongly committed to further developing its creative sector as a resource for the city, enabling it to enter a new stage of development, one that would be inclusive and sustainable.

As a Creative City of Music, Almaty envisages:

  • organising an open-air Music Festival of Orchestras to showcase local and national orchestras;
  • holding an open-air Music Festival called Gakku Dauysy, aimed at promoting Kazakh pop music and singers, exploring the roots of modern musical practices;
  • organising the Almaty KokTobe Opera, seeking to familiarise residents and visitors with prominent international opera singers and masterpieces of classical music;
  • setting up the international programme Spirit of the Great Steppe, aimed at promoting historical and cultural values of the nomadic people; and
  • launching the Star of Asia programme aiming to raise awareness about little known customs and traditions of Asia countries.


Galymzhan Otelbayuli
Culture and Archives Department of Almaty City