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Newroz capital Akre lights up in Kurdish New Year celebrations

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurds from all over the Region have lit up the town of Akre in Duhok, considered the capital of Newroz, as the ages-long tradition of lighting fires to welcome the new year on the first day of spring commenced on Sunday.

Hundreds of thousands of people from the Kurdistan Region, as well as Kurdish regions in Turkey, Iran, and Syria celebrated Newroz on Sunday, also symbolizing a day of freedom from tyranny and resistance.

In Akre, it has become a tradition for visitors to climb up the town’s hill with torches after dusk, creating a festive spirit with fireworks displays in the diverse town where Muslims, Christians, and other ethnicities and religious groups have coexisted for centuries.

This year, around 150,000 people from the Kurdistan Region and other Kurdish-populated areas have flocked to the town to celebrate Newroz, the town’s mayor Mazin Mohammed Said told Rudaw on Sunday.

Celebrations in the city of Kirkuk also ensued as thousands of Kurds lit the Newroz fire at Kirkuk Citadel.

This year, Newroz festivities in the Kurdistan Region finally returned back to normal after they were halted for two years as the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic prevented large gatherings from taking place. 

In 2020, a total lockdown was enforced in Newroz as the Kurdistan Region was recording its first coronavirus cases.

Kurds celebrate Newroz on March 21-23 by picnicking in the countryside and lighting bonfires with their families and loved ones. The occasion is known as the Kurdish New Year.

Celebrations and festivities are held across the Kurdistan Region with hundreds of thousands of Kurds dancing in their colorful and traditional Kurdish clothes.

Thousands of tourists from Iraq have also flocked to the Region for Newroz celebrations.

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced Sunday, March 20, and Monday, March 21, to be official holidays in celebration of the Kurdish New Year.

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