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Celebrating Global Festivals With Locals In Mongolia

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Celebrating Global Festivals with Locals in Mongolia

Mongolia, a landlocked country in East Asia, is known for its rich cultural heritage and vibrant festivals. The country celebrates a variety of global festivals throughout the year, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the local traditions and experience the true essence of Mongolian culture. From the colorful Naadam Festival to the spiritual Tsagaan Sar, here are some of the most celebrated global festivals in Mongolia.

Naadam Festival

The Naadam Festival is the most significant and widely celebrated festival in Mongolia. It is often referred to as the “Three Manly Games” as it features competitions in three traditional Mongolian sports: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. The festival takes place annually from July 11th to 13th and attracts participants and spectators from all over the country. During the festival, locals dress in traditional attire and showcase their skills in these ancient sports.

  • Wrestling: Mongolian wrestling, known as Bökh, is a traditional sport that dates back centuries. Participants wear tight-fitting costumes and aim to throw their opponents off balance. The wrestling matches are intense and highly competitive, with the winner receiving the title of “Zaan” or “Elephant.”
  • Horse Racing: Mongolian horse racing is a thrilling event that showcases the nomadic culture of the country. Children as young as five years old participate in long-distance races, covering distances ranging from 15 to 30 kilometers. The races take place on open plains, providing a breathtaking spectacle for spectators.
  • Archery: Archery has been an integral part of Mongolian culture for centuries. During the Naadam Festival, participants demonstrate their precision and skill in archery competitions. The targets are small leather cylinders placed on the ground, and archers shoot from a distance of around 75 meters.

Golden Eagle Festival

The Golden Eagle Festival is a unique event held in the western region of Mongolia, known as Bayan-Ölgii Province. This festival celebrates the ancient Kazakh tradition of hunting with golden eagles. The festival usually takes place in October and attracts eagle hunters from different parts of Mongolia and neighboring countries.

  • Eagle Hunting: Eagle hunting is a traditional practice that has been passed down through generations. During the festival, eagle hunters showcase their skills by commanding their trained golden eagles to catch prey. The hunters wear traditional attire and demonstrate their bond with the majestic birds.
  • Traditional Games: In addition to the eagle hunting competitions, the Golden Eagle Festival also features traditional games and performances. Visitors can witness horse racing, archery contests, and cultural displays that highlight the rich heritage of the Kazakh people.
  • Cultural Exchange: The festival provides an excellent opportunity for cultural exchange between the local Kazakh community and visitors. Attendees can interact with the eagle hunters, learn about their way of life, and gain insights into the ancient art of eagle hunting.

Tsagaan Sar

Tsagaan Sar, also known as the Mongolian Lunar New Year, is one of the most significant festivals in Mongolia. It marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. The festival usually falls between late January and early February, following the lunar calendar.

  • Family Reunions: Tsagaan Sar is a time for families to come together and celebrate. Relatives gather at the homes of their elders, where they exchange gifts, share traditional meals, and participate in various customs and rituals.
  • Traditional Attire: During Tsagaan Sar, Mongolians dress in their finest traditional clothing, known as “Deel.” The Deel is a long robe-like garment made of silk or wool, adorned with intricate patterns and designs.
  • Customs and Rituals: Tsagaan Sar is steeped in customs and rituals that symbolize good fortune and prosperity for the upcoming year. Visitors can witness the traditional “Zolgokh” greeting, where younger members of the family show respect to their elders by offering them snuffboxes and receiving blessings in return.

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Khövsgöl Ice Festival

The Khövsgöl Ice Festival is an annual event held on the frozen surface of Lake Khövsgöl, one of the largest freshwater lakes in Mongolia. The festival takes place during the winter months and showcases various winter activities and traditional games.

  • Ice Skating and Hockey: The frozen lake provides a perfect setting for ice skating and hockey competitions. Visitors can witness skilled ice skaters gliding across the smooth ice or cheer on teams competing in exciting hockey matches.
  • Ice Sculptures: Artists from all over Mongolia gather at the Khövsgöl Ice Festival to showcase their talent in creating intricate ice sculptures. These sculptures depict various figures from Mongolian folklore and are illuminated in the evening, creating a magical atmosphere.
  • Traditional Games: The festival also features traditional Mongolian games such as anklebone shooting and tug of war on ice. Participants and spectators alike can join in the fun and experience the thrill of these ancient games.

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White Month Festival

The White Month Festival, also known as “Tsagaan Sar,” is a winter celebration that takes place in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. This festival aims to promote winter tourism and offers a range of activities for both locals and visitors to enjoy.

  • Ice Sculpture Competitions: The White Month Festival showcases the artistic skills of ice sculptors who create breathtaking sculptures from blocks of ice. Visitors can witness the intricate details and marvel at the creativity of these frozen masterpieces.
  • Ice Skating and Sledding: The festival provides opportunities for ice skating and sledding in specially designated areas. People of all ages can enjoy gliding across the ice or sliding down snowy slopes on sleds.
  • Traditional Performances: The White Month Festival features cultural performances that showcase traditional Mongolian music, dance, and theater. Visitors can immerse themselves in the vibrant performances and gain a deeper understanding of Mongolian cultural heritage.

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Celebrating global festivals with locals in Mongolia offers a unique opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of the country. From the grandeur of the Naadam Festival to the ancient tradition of eagle hunting in the Golden Eagle Festival, each festival provides a glimpse into the vibrant traditions and customs of the Mongolian people. Whether it’s witnessing traditional sports, participating in cultural exchange, or enjoying winter festivities, these global festivals in Mongolia are sure to leave visitors with lasting memories.


– www.mongolia.travel
– www.bayanolgii.com
– www.khan-expedition.com
– www.ulaanbaatar.mn

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