Given Georgia’s rich heritage of folk song and dance, it’s little wonder that seeing a live show tops many first time visitors’ list of things to do when visiting Tbilisi.

The capital is not necessarily the best place to see such performances – Svaneti, Kakheti and Guria regions are both famed for their polyphony traditions, and Folk House in Zugdidi is one of my favourite places to listen to traditional music in Western Georgia.

This being Tbilisi though, there is a huge range of entertainment on offer, from live folk and jazz music to Georgian national dance. There are even a few opportunities to hear Georgia’s UNESCO-listed polyphonic chanting in the capital.

There’s always something on in Tbilisi, whether it’s a show at the Opera and Ballet Theatre on Rustaveli Avenue – or at the opposite end of the spectrum, an impromptu performance in a bar or restaurant in the old town (or sometimes at your guesthouse!).

This guide shows you where to find Georgian folk dance and live music in Tbilisi any night of the week. If you know of any other venues I should add to the list, please share the details in the comments below.


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A poster advertising Sukhishvili, Georgia's national ballet company.
A poster for Sukhishvili, Georgia’s famous folk ensemble.

Where to see Georgian folk dance in Tbilisi

Sukhishvili

If you’re lucky enough to be in Tbilisi when Sukhishvili is performing at the New Theatre in Marjanishvili or at their purpose-built outdoor stage, Takara, do not pass up the chance to see them! Georgia’s world-famous dance troupe blends traditional Kartuli and contemporary dance for a one-of-a-kind experience.

I’ve been lucky enough to see them twice now, once during a special rehearsal and again in spring 2022 when they did a special program to raise money for Ukraine.

Sukhishvili only performs in Tbilisi when they’re not touring. Usually they do a run of shows in winter/early spring plus a few dates in summer. Dates are announced on their Facebook Page and tickets are sold online via TKT.GE. Be warned that it always sells out fast – you have to get in early as soon as tickets are released.


An accessible way to see a Georgian traditional dance show in Tbilisi at any time of year (usually paired with folk singing and polyphony) is with a ‘dinner and a show’. I’ve been to more than a couple over the years – they’re touristy and a bit naff, but always good fun.

Here is a list of restaurants that currently offer dinner and a show in Tbilisi. Always call ahead to confirm times and prices. Reservations are essential.

Mravaljamieri

This restaurant takes its name from a popular folk song whose title translates to ‘may you live a long life’. Georgian folk dance and song is staged every evening in the main dining hall from 7pm until 10pm. They also have a large outdoor seating area and private gazebos.

The dinner and show ‘package’ requires a minimum order of 50 GEL’s worth of food and drink per person. The food gets mixed reviews, but they do serve Qvevri wine.

Find it on the riverside in Didube, 10 minutes by taxi from Freedom Square.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.

Ethno Tsiskvili

Located in Dighomi (15 minutes by taxi from Freedom Square), Ethno Tsiskvili is by far the most popular restaurant in Tbilisi to see national dance. I personally think the food is overrated – I much prefer eating next door at one of my favourite restaurants in Tbilisi, Kakhelebi.

If you’re here for the show though, you won’t be disappointed. They go all-out at Tsiskvili, opulent costumes, fire-tipped swords and all. Performances commence every night at 7.30pm, starting with polyphonic singing and folk music from the house ensemble, Ethno Art Band Gordela. Dancers come on in between sets, lighting up the floor. For something more laid back, the massive complex has another dining area with live jazz. Read more about it here.

Food prices are a little higher than what you might be used to in Tbilisi, and they also enforce a strict dress code (‘business casual’) – so don’t come in your day clothes (long pants for men and a collared shirt are preferable; women can get away with a skirt or dress).

Reservations (first by email, then by follow-up phone call) are absolutely essential. Tables often book out weeks in advance during high season. Book via the website.

Their second restaurant, Tsiskvili in Vake, also has live music and cover bands (but no dancing).

In The Shadow of Metekhi (temporarily closed)

Located on the opposite side of the river in Avlabari (5 minutes by taxi or 30 minutes by foot from Freedom Square), this restaurant is convenient to the Old Town. The huge outdoor terrace overlooking the river makes it a favourite.

Normally they host live music and traditional dance every night of the week. Currently there are vocal performances by quartet Ranina and folk dance on Friday nights only from 7-9.30pm.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.

Gorgasali

Located on Abano Street in Old Tbilisi amongst the Abanotubani Sulfur Baths, this restaurant gets mixed reviews for both the food and service – but the location can’t be beat if you want to see national dance in the centre of the city. The dance and song program takes place every evening from 8pm onwards.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.

Restaurant Tabla

Located in Vake (10 minutes by taxi from Freedom Square), Tabla is a beautiful restaurant with a large upstairs dining hall, a stage and a dance floor. This place gets better reviews for its food and service – but portions are a little small in my opinion. One major pet peeve is that you can only order mini khinkali dumplings in the main restaurant – big khinkali are only served downstairs!

Tabla hosts Georgian music and dance every Friday and Saturday night from 8pm-10pm. In summer high season, they sometimes put on extra shows on weekdays plus vocal recitals by a resident quartet.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.

Khinkali House

There are several branches of this popular restaurant chain in Tbilisi, including one in Avlabari district. There is no set schedule for live music and folk dance at present – performances happen sporadically, mostly on weekends.

Contact via Facebook to check if any performances are scheduled during your visit.

Kolkheti

This restaurant is located further out in Okrokana, a 15-minute drive west from the centre of the city, but boasts wonderful views from its hilltop location. As well as classic Georgian fare they offer live music and dance courtesy of a resident ensemble.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.


Where to hear Georgian Polyphony in Tbilisi

Interested in learning more about Georgia’s folk music traditions? Voices of the Ancestors is a podcast ‘about Georgian polyphonic songs and the women who sing them’. Listen here.

Didgori Folk Ensemble

What Sukhishvili is to Georgian folk dance, Didgori is to polyphonic singing. This highly regarded ensemble is usually off touring Europe and playing festivals over the summer, but you can often catch them live in Tbilisi in autumn or winter. In previous years they have performed at Orbeliani Square and the Opera Theatre, as well as appearing at special events and folk festivals around Georgia.

The all-male ensemble is named after Didgori mountain where the Georgians defeated the Seljuks in an epic battle. The traditional chants and three-voice polyphony pieces they perform are intimately tied to this legend and beginnings of Christianity in Georgia.

Check their Facebook Page for event listings and updates.

Aristaeus Ethno Wine Bar (temporarily closed)

Run by the same folks behind Georgian Kalata, my favourite place in Tbilisi to buy edible Georgian souvenirs, Aristaeus is a delightful little wine bar with a great atmosphere.

Georgian Polyphony, courtesy of a local quartet, is normally performed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from 8-10pm. It pairs perfectly with a bottle of Georgian wine and an artisanal sharing plate

More info on their Facebook Page. Aristaeus is currently closed – I will return to update this info when things change.

Churches in Tbilisi with polyphonic chanting

Liturgical chanting is a traditional part of Orthodox mass, thus there are plenty of opportunities to hear Georgian polyphony in various churches around the city. Traditionally, mass includes three-voiced polyphony without any instrumental accompaniment. I’ve witnessed groups of up to six men chanting.

Sunday morning mass starts at 9am with the chanting at around 10am approximately. My two favourite churches to hear polyphony are Anchiskhati Basilica in Old Tbilisi, home of the world-famous Anchiskhati Choir (it’s a squeeze to get inside the tiny building, but the acoustics are amazing); and the Holy Lord’s Transfiguration Convent (Queen Darejan’s Palace) in Avlabari. The latter has speakers in the churchyard so you can sit on a bench in the fresh air and listen to the nuns singing inside.

People don’t seem to mind visitors dropping in – but please be discrete. I usually stand close to the door and keep my head down. Remember to dress appropriately and refrain from taking photos inside.

Three men dressed in traditional Georgian costume perform folk songs outside Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi.
This trio can often be found performing Georgian folk music at Bagrati Cathedral in Kutaisi.

Bars & restaurants with live music in Tbilisi

If you’re looking for something more low-key with a local vibe, there are dozens more bars and restaurants in Tbilisi with live jazz, blues, rocks, acoustic and folk music. This list brings together a handful of the most popular.

Side note: For the best wine, cocktail and craft beer bars in Tbilisi, see this list.

I’m not covering techno music or clubs here – that’s a whole other article. Rather, these are places where you can sit (or stand) with a drink, listen to local artists and meet people. All are casual spaces that welcome walk-ins, though some now require a booking so it’s best to check ahead.

Shin-Aura (local favourite for live music in Tbilisi)

My favourite place for lunch in Tbilisi (their set menu is terrific), Shin-Aura transforms into a bar and event space after dark. The leafy outdoor area here is gorgeous, and the range of local wines spectacular.

Performances range from piano-vocal duos to jazz and folk, poetry recitals and literary events. The Saburtalo location is a bit of a trek if you’re staying in Old Tbilisi, but the payoff is that Shin-Aura has a truly local feel.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Azarphesha

I can’t guarantee you’ll hear live music at this beautiful restaurant on Pavle Ingorokva Street – but regardless, this is an excellent place in central Tbilisi for a meal. On weekends, owned Luarsab Togonidze often pulls out his guitar and belts out a duet or two with his wife or daughter. We were lucky enough to catch an impromptu performance on our most recent visit.

More information and bookings on their Facebook Page.

Luarsab Togonidze and his daughter singing at Azarphesha restaurant in Tbilisi.
Azarphesha.

Jazz Cafe Konka

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Jazz Cafe Konka (AKA Cafe Bar “Konka Station”) is located right in the middle of Old Town near the Cotton Rows. Live jazz, blues and rock from the likes of the Reso Kiknadze quintet takes place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night in winter and every night of the week from late April, normally starting at 9pm. Accompanied by local wine and Georgian fare.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Zazanova

This Georgian-European restaurant off Agmashenebeli Avenue hosts live performances every night from 9pm. Friday nights are dedicated to jazz. The program is usually finalised a month in advance and includes both established local musicians and up-and-comers.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

1984 Jazz

This low-key jazz bar off Kote Afkhazi Street pairs 80s New York jazz performances with cocktails and soul food. You can catch a live band any night of the week from 9pm onwards.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Backstage76

This cult-classic bar recently moved to a new location in Vake Park. As well as regular music performances (including quirky acts such as live accordion), they also host Latin nights, stand-up comedy nights and magic shows. In short: There’s always something fun happening at Backstage76.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Ghumeli

Part of IOTA Hotel in Sololaki, Ghumeli is a restaurant first and foremost that specialises in oven-baked dishes and steaks. Live music performances (normally a duo or quintet) take place on Friday and Saturday evenings from 8.30pm.

Contact via Facebook to confirm times and prices, and to make a booking.

Movement Theatre

Founded in 2001, Movement Theatre is an indie performance space that hosts ballet and theatrical performances as well as contemporary art exhibitions and music. Jam sessions are normally held on Fridays from 8pm. Find it in Mushtaidi Garden, near Dinamo Stadium.

See event listings and announcements on their website or Facebook Page.

Ikalto Micro Art Residence

This is a laid-back indie gallery in a ninth-floor apartment building in Saburtalo. Entrance costs 5 tetri – the cost of riding the elevator! Piano and acoustic performances are often staged alongside exhibitions and residencies by young artists.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Woland’s Speakeasy

This popular cocktail lounge near Liberty Square hosts a rotating program of karaoke, quiz nights and live music. This is a great place to meet other travellers.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

Drunk Owl Bar

This popular bar in the Old Town (not far from the Meidan Bazaar) has live music most Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 8 or 9pm. As the name suggests, this is a place to get tanked up on cheap booze. The atmosphere is great and staff are friendly, but the majority of the clientele are tourists.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.

MacLaren’s Irish Pub

Popular among expats, this pub on Shardeni screens sports events and hosts regular live music, ranging from subdued acoustic performances by Georgian artists in the early evenings, to late-night extravaganzas with rock-and-roll cover bands.

See event listings and announcements on their Facebook Page.


Where is your favourite place for folk dance or live music in Tbilisi? Share your recommendations below and I’ll add them to the list.


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For even more inspiration and resources, check out my new Georgia Travel Guide and my Georgia itinerary.

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6 Comments

  1. Hi Emily!! The Old City Wall restaurant often has traditional singing, which is truly superb in its cavern setting. They are very responsive to questions about live performances via messenger in English. The food and wine are reasonably priced for such a lovely atmosphere. I highly recommend it!!

    1. Terrific suggestion Robin, thank you for that! I will add them to the list and hopefully check it out myself next time I’m in town. Cheers!

  2. Before the pandemic, the branch of Khinkali House behind Avlabari Metro (and others? not sure) had a surprisingly good music and dance performance. You could get a table in the balcony where it was calmer and had a good view. We went with my cousin’s kids, and they were especially nice to them and always made sure the kids were in the front row when people stood up to watch. I don’t think their khinkali are as special as lots of people seem to, but they’re certainly standard.

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