Mongolia, a land of cultural richness and nomadic traditions, is gearing up for the Mongolia Festival 2024. Among the myriad celebrations, three stand out for their uniqueness and excitement. Let’s dive into the heat of these festivals on your vacation in Mongolia.
The Naadam Festival – The most anticipated festival Mongolia Festival
Time the festival occurred
The Naadam Festival is the most significant traditional festival of Mongolia. It is celebrated throughout the country, from July 11th to 13th in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, on the occasion of National Day (July 11th). In 2010, the Mongolian Naadam Festival was recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage and a heritage of humanity.
The origin of Naadam Festival
Naadam, a term resonating with the essence of “games” in the Mongolian language, holds a cultural legacy dating back to the era of Genghis Khan. Steeped in history, the festival finds its roots in the parades and hunting games that once echoed through the ancient warrior tribes. Traditionally gracing the heart of summer, the Naadam Festival transforms Mongolia into a vibrant tapestry of tradition and celebration. As the festival unfolds, the expansive steppes become a rendezvous for Mongolian locals and visitors alike. A captivating spectacle ensues, featuring traditional dance performances that echo the tunes of a bygone era and folk singing that narrates tales of the nomadic spirit. As Mongolia festival 2024 approaches, the anticipation for this grand event adds an extra layer of excitement to the air.
Things to see in Naadam Festival
In some places, Naadam Festival is often called “Eriin Gurvan Naadam,” which means “3 games of men.” The games include Mongolian wrestling, archery, and horse racing.
On the inaugural day of the Naadam Festival in Mongolia, a magnificent spectacle unfolds, reminiscent of ancient traditions that have withstood the test of time. The heart of the capital witnesses a captivating procession as hundreds of soldiers, adorned in majestic uniforms, parade around Chinggis Square and the Parliament building. The brass instruments they play create a harmonious melody, setting the stage for the grand opening ceremony at the stadium. Here, amidst cheers and applause, the President of Mongolia delivers a speech, invoking joy and happiness for the forthcoming Naadam Festival, a pivotal event in Mongolia’s cultural calendar.
Over the subsequent two days, the festival transforms into a kaleidoscope of cultural, sporting, and culinary experiences, reviving the essence of centuries-old traditions during this Mongolia Festival. The spotlight shines on the triumvirate of traditional sports—wrestling, horse racing, and archery. These competitions echo the spirit of ancient warriors, engaging in contests reminiscent of historical battles. Wrestlers showcase strength and technique, horses thunder through the steppes in exhilarating races, and archers display precision as they aim for the mark.
Beyond the arena, the Naadam Festival offers a gastronomic journey into Mongolian culinary traditions. Visitors are not only treated to captivating performances but also to a culinary adventure featuring traditional delights. Goat yogurt, known for its unique taste and nutritional value, graces the tables alongside traditional teas and more. This sensory experience transcends the visual and auditory, inviting all to savor the flavors of Mongolian heritage. As one of the most famous Mongolia Festivals, it weaves a harmonious tapestry of tradition, competition, and cultural richness—a celebration that bridges the past and present. In 2024, the festival serves as a vibrant testament to Mongolia’s enduring cultural legacy, inviting both locals and visitors to immerse themselves in the vibrant spirit of this revered event.
Thousand Camel Festival – The ancient Mongolia Festival
Time the festival occurred
The Thousand Camel Festival in Mongolia, also called Tumen Camel Festival, typically happens every year on March 6th and 7th. It occurs in Dalanzadgad, a city in Mongolia.
The origin of Thousand Camel Festival
The Thousand Camel Festival in Mongolia is a cultural extravaganza deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of Mongolian warriors, echoing through the corridors of time for many centuries. Steeped in history and heritage, the festival is a testament to the enduring spirit of Mongolian culture.
The festival’s origins harken back to the bygone days of Mongolian warriors, where the celebration took various forms over the centuries. Through the passage of time, it has evolved into the vibrant and dynamic event known as the Thousand Camel Festival today. This celebration is a living embodiment of Mongolian traditions, a cultural treasure that continues to thrive and resonate with the essence of the nomadic way of life.
Things to do and see in Thousand Camel Festival
At the heart of the Thousand Camel Festival lies a spectacle that captures the imagination of all who witness it—the thrilling camel race and the intense polo matches that unfold against the backdrop of Mongolia’s expansive landscapes. These events are not just competitions; they are a testament to the extraordinary bond between the nomads and their majestic camels.
The camel races, spanning an exhilarating 15 kilometers, are a standout feature of the festival and have earned global recognition. The Guinness World Records acknowledges this spectacle as the largest camel race on the planet, drawing 1,108 participants in a single thrilling event back in 2016. Tourists are not just spectators; they are invited to become part of the action, experiencing the adrenaline rush of sitting on a camel’s back or on a sled as part of the fiercely competitive races. As the camels gallop across the vast Mongolian steppes, they can reach speeds of up to 65 km/h, maintaining a steady pace of 40 km/h. For those lucky enough to partake in this unique experience, the sensation is often described as one of the most exhilarating moments of their lives. It’s a chance to connect with the nomadic spirit and feel the pulse of the ancient traditions echoing through the race.
Beyond the camel races, the festival offers a diverse array of engaging activities for both locals and visitors during the Mongolia festival. Horse racing, another cherished tradition, unfolds with grace and speed, showcasing the remarkable equestrian skills of the Mongolian people. The festivities extend to music competitions, where the melodies of traditional instruments fill the air, creating an immersive cultural experience. Adding a touch of glamor, the festival includes traditional costume contests that celebrate the vibrant and intricate attire worn by the nomads. Beauty pageants for camels add a whimsical and charming element to the festivities, highlighting the significance of these majestic creatures in Mongolian culture.
The Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia
Time the festival occurred
In recent years, the number of eagle trainers, participants, and tourists traveling to Mongolia has significantly increased. This has led to a growing demand for festivals.
Currently, there are three different Eagle Festivals taking place in three regions:
The “Nomad Games” Eagle Festival occurs on September 15th and 16th every year in Altai Soum.
The Sagsai or Tolbo Eagle Festival takes place on September 19th and 20th annually.
The largest Eagle Festival happens during the first weekend of October in the town of Ulgii.
The origin of Golden Eagle Festival
In the vast expanse of Central Mongolia, where the rugged landscapes are adorned with the beauty of nature, the Golden Eagle reigns supreme as the most exquisite and widely distributed species among the 60 types of eagles worldwide. This majestic bird has been an integral part of Mongolian culture for centuries, its elegant wings and keen eyes embodying the spirit of the nomadic people. In 1999, the Golden Eagle Festival was initiated and started for all eagle hunters in Mongolia to showcase their skills. The festival features two competitions exclusively for these beautiful and skilled hunting eagles.
The bond between the Golden Eagle and the eagle hunters of Mongolia is a tale etched in the annals of time. These hunters, often seen as custodians of ancient traditions, have cultivated a unique relationship with these magnificent birds, training them for the noble art of hunting. The Golden Eagle, with its regal presence and remarkable hunting prowess, has become a symbol of the nomadic way of life in Mongolia.
Things to do and see in Golden Eagle Festival
The Golden Eagle Festival begins with performances by the hunters along with the accessories they carry. Hunters typically wear traditional attire, often adorned with fur coats made from animals like foxes, marmots, or wolves, caught by the eagles themselves. The festival also involves a competition showcasing the artistic hunting skills of these professional “predators”.
The Golden Eagle Festival is a spectacle that unfolds against the backdrop of Mongolia’s picturesque landscapes, offering a glimpse into the age-old traditions of the nomadic people. The festival features two distinct competitions designed exclusively for these beautiful and skilled hunting eagles. The first competition assesses the eagle’s speed and precision as it swoops down to catch its prey— which is one of the highlights of this Mongolia Festival.
The second competition highlights the bond between the eagle and its handler. Known as the “fox skin game,” this competition challenges the eagle to snatch a fox fur dragged behind its owner on horseback. The precision and speed with which the eagle accomplishes this task are awe-inspiring, reflecting the years of trust and mutual understanding between the bird and its human companion.
For those fortunate enough to witness the Golden Eagle Mongolia Festival, it is not merely a display of skill; it is a journey into the heart of Mongolia’s nomadic heritage. The festival embodies the essence of the country, where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with the present, creating a rich tapestry of culture and celebration. As the Golden Eagle soars through the vast Mongolian skies during the festival, it carries with it the spirit of a nation, echoing the timeless beauty of the Mongolia festival in 2024 and leaving an indelible mark on those who are fortunate enough to experience its magnificence.
In addition to the eagle competition, visitors also get to see many other interesting activities during this Mongolia festival. For example, there are games like tug-of-war, Mongolian archery, camel riding races, performances of traditional singing and folk music,… Visitors can enjoy dishes like crispy fried lamb, grilled lamb, roasted goat meat, and more. Tourists can purchase drinks at small convenience stores around the festival area.
This article has provided the information about Mongolia Festivals of 2024, including the Naadam Festival, the Thousand Camel Festival, and the Golden Eagle Festival. Tourists can immerse in vibrant traditions, savor local dishes, and other activities, to make the Mongolia Festival a must-visit for an enriching experience.