Date: early March
Location: Khuvsgul lake
photo by: O. Munkhnasan
The harshness of cold winter could not resist the beauty of the lake Khuvgul, which attracts visitors with its calmness, and shines as a clear crystal. The annual Ice Festival which takes place in March will provide a unique opportunity to experience Mongolian games in frozen lakes including traditional ice shooting competitions, horse sledding races, skating competitions, shaman`s rituals, dog sledding journeys, and displays gilding ice sculptures by local artists.
To sense the winter beauty of the lake Khuvsgul take your warm clothes and head to Khatgal village on the lakeside.
THOUSAND CAMEL FESTIVAL
Date: 6-8 March
Location: Bulgan soum, Umnugobi
photo by: Zaya
The Thousand Camel Festival which is held every March in Mongolia’s Gobi is one of the major springtime events that are gaining popularity with both domestic and international travelers in the country.
The Camel Festival is organized by the Amazing Gobi Association and supported by the provincial government to highlight the significance of camels for the local and national economy and to promote the camel herding traditions and showcase the skills of nomads in the Gobi. In 2016, a very special Camel Festival took place – to stage a record for the Guinness Book. In March of that year, 1115 camels came from provinces from Gobi region of Mongolia, to compete in racing of 15km distance and showcased skills of taming wild camel, camel packing, parade their decorated camels and riders in festive costumes, display their best breeding stock of camels, and enjoy cultural performances.
Date: 10-13 July
photo by: Zaya
This annual sports festival is the most famous celebration across the country. It features the three manly sports: wrestling, archery, and horse racing. Naadam is celebrated across the country and every town and village holds its own wrestling, archery, and horse racing contests. The official Naadam opening ceremony in Ulaanbaatar is quite spectacular. Riders dress as Chinggis Khan’s entourage and lead a huge procession around the Naadam Stadium, which features hundreds of adults and children dressed in costumes, representing all Mongolia’s ethnic groups. In Ulaanbaatar, wrestling takes place in the main stadium, while archery competitions occur all around the structure; the famously perilous horse races are held at Hui Doloon Khudag located 40km west of Ulaanbaatar city.
OIRAD PEOPLES’ CULTURAL FESTIVAL
Date: 4-5 Aug
Location: Uvs province, Uureg lakeshore
Photo by: Aduuchii Batsukh
Many people may imagine western Mongolia as hunters in heavy fur costumes holding golden eagles, but there are many treasures to see behind this. There are many ethnic groups living in western Mongolia, which include the Durvud, Torguud, Bayad, Uuld, Zakhchin, Myangad, Uriankhai, and Kazakhs. Therefore, culture and traditions are diverse and distinguished by their folklore art and many other features. Surely, various native cultures and folk arts among ethnic people are attractive and charming.
Since 2006, locals and the Oirad Theater in Ulaangom town have initiated Oirod People’s Folk Festival to preserve and promote intangible cultural heritage, including Hoomei throat singing bielgee folk dance, Tuuli epic song, and musical instruments including Ikel huur, Tovshuur, and Tsuur as well as tangible heritage. Since 2013, the festival was extended to the world and Oirad people all over the world can be involved in the event.
Oirad people from villages from Khovd, Uvs, Bayan-Ulgii provinces, and tribes settled in Siberia, Kalmyk, Xingjian Uyghur, Qinghai (Deed Mongol) and Inner Mongolia gathers in the Turgen Mountains (on the coast of Uureg Lake) to greet each other and share their inherited folk arts threatened with the influence of modernization.
For travelers planning to visit western Mongolia in early August or folk art lovers, we highly recommend that you stop by the Oirad People’s Folk Festival to experience the authentic culture of the Altai Mountains and meet the most hospitable people.
GOLDEN EAGLE FESTIVAL
Date: the first weekend of October
Location: Ulgii town
photo by: Zaya
The Golden Eagle Festival or Eagle Festival is an annual traditional festival held in Bayan-Ulgii province, Mongolia. Every year, eagle hunters from every corner of the country gather to celebrate their falconry heritage and compete to show the hunting skill skills of both the birds and their trainers.
The opening ceremony of the festival starts with a parade of eagle hunters from different villages of the Bayan-ulgii province and Kazakhstan as well, followed by sporting activities and competitions of hunting skills with the golden eagle. Besides, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations, and handcrafts in the center of the town of Ulgii. Witnessing a sensational event and meeting the people dressed in full eagle hunting regalia and mounted on groomed decorated horses will be one of the life adventures.
Other sporting activities include horse racing, archery, and the highly entertaining kukbar ((tug of war on horseback).
A smaller festival, the Sagsai Golden Eagle Festival on 17-18 September each year especially for photographers, cinematographers, and photojournalists, and the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival are also held each year in the nearby village of Sagsai in the last week of September. It follows much the same pattern as the larger Golden Eagle Festival, with about 40 eagle hunters participates