Georgia’s capital and regional cities celebrate Independence Day

Crowds celebrate the annual May 26 Independence Day in Tbilisi, with this year's date marking the 25th anniversary of Georgia's independence. Photo by N. Alavidze/, 26 May 2016 - 16:50, Tbilisi,Georgia

One of the main streets in Georgia’s capital has transformed into a bustling hive of activity with stalls, games, racing cars, military vehicles and other entertainment lining the street as the nation celebrates Independence Day.

Today central Tbilisi and 12 other regional cities are hosting a diverse program of activities and events marking the 25thanniversary of Georgia’s independence.

In the capital, Rustaveli Ave and Freedom Square are at the heart of today’s celebrations. Stalls and displays from government offices, theatre troups, artists and sports teams have been erected to inform and entertain the thousands of guests taking part in the annual festivities.

This year's Independence Day marked the presence of US Army's Abrams main battle tanks, exhibited on Freedom Square for visitors. Photo by N. Alavidze/

Each year Georgia celebrates its independence however this year's Independence Day occasion is especially significant as it marks a quarter of a century since the May 26, 1991 restoration of Georgia's independence from the Soviet Union.

From midday military vehicles from the United States (US) Army, including the Abrams main battle tanks, are on display for the first time in Georgia. The display at Freedom Square in Tbilisi will end later this evening.

The vehicles were part of the Noble Partner 2016 defence exercise that involved Georgian, American and British troops at the Vaziani Training Base in Georgia from May 11-24.

The celebratory occasion involved military orchestras from armed forces of Georgia and its allies performing for the crowds. Photo from the Ministry of Defence of Georgia/Facebook.

The US and British service members were also present at the Tbilisi celebrations this morning.

The official celebrations kicked off about midday at Freedom Square, when President Giorgi Margvelashvili congratulated the people of Georgia on the special day. Afterwards military orchestras from Georgia, Latvia, the US and UK performed to the crowds and invited guests at Freedom Square.

Alongside the Ministry of Defence of Georgia, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection is hosting several displays to mark Independence Day.

Banners featuring photographs of the Government of Georgia's 1918-1921 democratic republic are being displayed on the front facade of the Youth Palace of Georgia, located next to Freedom Square.

Photographs featuring members of Georgia's first democratic republic Government were exhibited as banners and on stands on Rustaveli Avenue. Photo by N. Alavidze/

Outside the Marriott Tbilisi Hotel students of the Tbilisi State Conservatory will perform musical pieces. In the nearby area guests can dress up in vintage costumes and have their photo taken, or enjoy art cafes with hand-painted furniture and pianos.

More classical music will be performed at Cafe Opera, in front of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre on Rustaveli Ave. here Conservatory students and soloists will perform on a piano and other string instruments.

Dancers from the Vakhtang Chabukiani State School of Ballet Art will show their skills on a stage erected near the Opera and Ballet State Theatre, while classical recordings of old opera performances will be heard from the balcony of the theatre itself.

Dancers of the Vakhtang Chabukiani State School of Ballet Art perform in front of the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet State Theatre for the celebrations. Photo by N. Alavidze/

Meanwhile visitors who walk from the Opera and Ballet State Theatre down towards Freedom Square will stumble across a special corner by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, set up in front of the Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery.

The booth will allow guests to contact and speak to citizens from European Union (EU) countries in a livestream session via a monitor. The conversations aimed to raise awareness of the visa liberalisation process between Georgia and the EU.

Georgia’s Ministry of Environment also joined today’s celebration, offering entertainment and education to passers-by. The Ministry set up a flower garden with a special ‘wishing tree’ that people can decorate with their wishes.

Young guests of a Ministry of Environment stall try their hand at origami paper folding on Rustaveli Ave in Tbilisi. Photo from the Ministry of Environment of Georgia.

Guests can also try their luck at the art of origami paper folding at the Environment Ministry's stall.

A little bit further up the road and people can have their photo taken in a special Smart Photo Booth offered by the Public Service Hall.

Theatre troupes and performing bands were seen celebrating the anniversary among the crowds on Rustaveli Ave. Photo by N. Alavidze/

As well as the stalls manned by Government offices, guests can enjoy the scents offered in a flower festival, watch theatre performances by local troupes, see an agricultural exhibition and try their luck at basketball, car racing or other sports.

Several stages have been set up to host bands and other musical performances, while a gala concert at 8pm at the main stage outside the Parliament Building will conclude the day's events.

Flowers could be found at corners, stalls and decorated areas on Rustaveli Ave for the Independence Day celebrations. Photo by N. Alavidze/

This year the May 26 celebrations are marked not only in capital Tbilisi but in a dozen cities and towns in the country's regions. Exhibitions, cultural shows and sports events are being held today in Rustavi, Poti, Zugdidi, Telavi and more.

Georgia is today celebrating 25 years of independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

However about 100 years earlier, in 1918, Georgia first declared national independence from Russia. This was short-lived and the country was re-invaded by Russia’s Bolshevik Army and absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1921.

Seventy years later, in 1990, Georgia once again became an independent republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union and today the country is marking 25 years since this fateful date.

The full program of events marking the 25th anniversary of Georgia's independence in Tbilisi and the regions can be viewed here.