This dreamt experiencing festival happens in coldest winter. And it is possible to see a mystery of how nomads survive with their 5 snouts of pastoral animals within temperature as drops as -30 degrees. And also extraordinary experience as riding Mongolian horse or camel in the snow covered vast white steppe and stay with hospitable nomads in their traditional cultures. The ice to skate usually freezes about 1.5 meter thick in Mongolia during its silver season.


Naadam is the most famous, interesting festival and national holiday of Mongolia attracts worldwide attention. Origin of the festival dates back to the great warriors’ period or great Genghis Khaan’s period of the 13th century. Naadam means “Festival or feast of sports”. As well as, the festival is locally termed “Eriin Gurvan Naadam” means “Three manly sports”.

The three sports are: Horse racing, wrestling and archery.

Ancient times, the Mongolian great kings and military generals used to train their warriors and the warriors’ main battle tool horses while competing and feasting those three manly traditional sports have been generating for centuries and being enriched by more traditional sports and games. During the festival, Mongolians dress in colourful and distinctive traditional clothes and ride their most beautiful horses. Official festival celebration takes place through the country between 11 and 13th July annually. Particularly, the Naadam celebration in Ulaanbaatar, a capital of Mongolia is the most marvellous and involves wider range.

There are 21 provinces and their 333 soums (small administrative divisions) in Mongolia celebrate their own festivals. Even though, some of the administrative units celebrate their festival on different dates depends on special celebrity occasions or anniversaries may held certain periods. As well as, celebrating the festival on different dates than the big festival celebrated in Ulaanbaatar allows their local wrestlers, archers and race horses to take part in big competition and celebration. Annually, thousands of tourists head to Mongolia to attend this breathtaking event except for hundreds of journalists broadcasting the celebration worldwide.

This is not only festival and holiday for Mongolians, this is a day proud of their tradition and unique way of nomadic culture. The Naadam festival in Ulaanbaatar allows its audience to admire colourful celebration and see prominent sports while the countryside festivals allow their audiences to participate and deal with locals.

The Ulaanbaatar Naadam starts with a parade of horse soldiers transferring the symbolic “nine banners of the Great Mongol Empire” from the Government house to Naadam stadium. Next, Mongolian president give a speech followed by traditional performances, shows and much more. During Naadam days, there are plenty to see including wrestling, archery, anklebone shooting and horse races which held in the open fields outside of Ulaanbaatar, exhibitions, folklore competitions, souvenirs, food and drinks

Horse Racing

Horses competing in the races are trained for at least a month before the festival. There are six racing categories according to the age of the horses, starting from two-years-old horses to fully-grown horses and stallions. The horse races held outside Ulaanbaatar in the open fields. The two-year old horses race a distance of 15 km whereas the fully-grown horses race 30 km. The races are performed by small (child) jockeys. They prefer to race without saddles to be as light and therefore as fast as possible. There are a lot to attract your attention at the horse racing field such as folk and horse shows, holiday meals etc except for the horse race


Wrestlers wear special clothes to show the beauty and strength of their bodies. There is no categorization according to weight. The basic rule of the wrestling is the number of wrestlers must be equal: 512 or as many as 1024 during special anniversaries. The higher-ranking wrestlers choose from lower ranking wrestlers as their competitors. The winners remain for the next round whilst the loser leaves the competition. The competition will continue in this manner until the very last round. Depending on which round the wrestlers win and also depending on their previous title, they receive a new title. The competition becomes more and more interesting round by round as the winner wrestlers receive titles after the fifth round and further. The wrestlers’ titles named after prey of birds and strong animals; falcon, elephant, hawk, garuda, lion and champion. The wrestlers’ imitations of the animals’ gesture are of an interest as well.


Over the years, there are some changes for the Naadam festival rule. Nowadays, women can attend most competitions and games except for wrestling. This competition is open to women, who draw 20 arrows at a 60 meters target, while men shoot 40 arrows at a 75 meters target.


In Mongolia, the first celebration of the year is the lunar new year, Tsagaan Sar, meaning ”white moon”. The date of the celebrations is determined according to lunar calendar. It’s a great family celebration with many ceremonies, which last three days. Tsagaan Sar traditions are several centuries old and Mongolians really respect them.

Tsagaan Sar symbolizes the first day of spring, when winter ends and the temperatures begin to get warmer. It corresponds to January or February in the Gregorian calendar, according to moon phases.

People start to prepare Tsagaan Sar many weeks before the beginning of the festivities. Every family prepares hundreds of raviolis with meat called buuz, and the balconies become giant freezers. Buuz are the traditional dish for New Year. Families also prepare in advance the elegant clothes they’ll wear. Nomads prepare their best horses, because they’ll ride them during the festivities.

The day before Tsagaan Sar is called ”Bituun”, which means “new moon”. All day long, Mongolians clean their house from top to bottom. Herders also clean the barn. Candles are lit to illuminate the Samsara and all the beings who reached the Buddha phase. Mongolians place three pieces of ice outside the door of their home, for the God Palden Lhamo’s horse to drink while the God is visiting the family. During the night, the families prepare a big dinner with much food. A great Mongolian wrestling competition is broadcasted on television. The families organize cards games because the persons who are lucky that night are supposed to be lucky all year long. People pay their debts and try to reconcile, in order to start the New Year under favourable auspices.

The morning of Tsagaan Sar, the hostess offers the first cup of tea with milk to the gods, throwing out the content in all directions. After daybreak, people begin greetings. Then they will have to go out in front of their house to perform the ritual prayers. These are published in the newspaper and are determined according to Chinese zodiac.

During the two days of Tsagaan Sar (and often during the following week), Mongolians visit their whole family ; they can visit ten families in one day. They always have to begin with the house of the oldest one, beginning with their parents’. Each visit is ritualized. When they arrive at their host’s, the latter is sitting in the Northern part of the yurt, keeping his hat on his head. They come and greet him according to the ritual called Zolgokh : guests come one after the other near the householder. The Khadag on the arms, the guest puts his forearm on those of his host, while uttering the phrase “amar baina uu? Sar shinedee saikhan shinelej baina uu”, which means “do you live in peace ? Are you celebrating New Year in a good way ?”. Then the host kisses him on both cheeks (or sniffs him), and the guest gives him money (new notes to mark the renewal, the amount depending on the importance of the host, but generally between 1000 and 20000 tugriks) and/or vodka. Then the guests sit around the table, where a steamed sheep, “uuts”, and a plate of traditional cookies, ”tsagaan sariin tavgiin idee”, placed in stacked rows, and whose number is always odd, were placed. The hostess serves tea with milk and traditional dishes. While the men exchange their snuffbox, people generally discuss the course of the winter. The guests drink three times, usually vodka. After meal, when the guests are ready to leave, the host offers them a gift.

Mongolians attach great importance to the first day of the new year, because they think it affects the rest of the year. Thus, Mongolians have a religious ritual called “Khiymorio sergeekh” to call good fortune. During Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolians also follow the ritual of ovoo to thank gods and nature.


“Thousand Camel Festival,” organized by a local non-governmental organization working to protect and preserve the Bactrian camel population. Highlights of the festival include camel races, performances by traditional Mongolian musicians and dancers, and visits to significant paleontological and cultural sites of the Gobi. Attend the camel races at the Thousand Camel Festival, a unique opportunity to witness the speed and agility of Bactrian camels. Enjoy performances by traditional Mongolian musicians and dancers, and visits to significant paleontological and cultural sites in the Gobi. The festival is held annually 7th and 8thMarch.



Kazakh eagle hunter in Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, Mongolia.

The Eagle festival, or Golden Eagle festival is an annual traditional festival held in Bayan-Ölgii aimag, Mongolia. In the eagle festival, Kazakh eagle hunters celebrate their heritage and compete to catch small animals such as foxes and hares with specially trained golden eagles, showing off the skills both of the birds and their trainers. Prizes are awarded for speed, agility and accuracy, as well as for the best traditional Kazakh dress, and more.

The Eagle Festival is held during the first weekend in October, run by the Mongolian Eagle Hunter’s Association. Dark, rocky mountainous terrain forms the backdrop to the festivities which incorporate an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations and handcrafts in the center of town of Ölgii followed by sporting activities and competitions 4 km out towards the mountains. Dressed in full eagle hunting regalia and mounted on groomed decorated horses, the entrants compete for the awards of Best Turned Out Eagle and Owner; Best Eagle at Hunting Prey and Best Eagle at Locating Its Owner from a Distance. Other sporting activities include horse racing, archery and the highly entertaining Bushkashi – goatskin tug of war on horseback.

A smaller festival, the Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival is 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 participating.

Mongolians in Altai (Kazakhs) Eagle Hunting History (over 2000 years old)

Before put here many legends about Altai Kazakh Eagle hunting history, let me to give some information about Golden Eagle and Altai Kazakh Hunting Skills.

Golden Eagle is a bird of eagles family, predatory class, In Kazakhstan lives everywhere, except – wood less deserts and steppes; in the south of Kazakhstan – settled, in the North – partially migratory. Size – up to 95 sm, wing-span – up to 220 sm, weight 4 – 6 kg. Plumage is of the same kind, dark – brown, nape and neck – goldish-red, young individuals have white, with a wide black strip on the end, tail, lower part of a wing – with large white spots. A down nestling – only white. Gplden Eagle settles in couples, making huge (up to 2 мin a diameter) nests in niches and on ledges of rocky breakages, on trees. In March- April hen lays 1 – 3 eggs (hen sits on eggs about 45 days) . The nestlings leaves nests in 2,5 months of old, but parents are guardians along time. Golden Eagle lives about 100 years in natural conditions. Eats: in mountains – marmots, kekliks, ulars, reven and gophers; in deserts – sandpiper, rabbits, partridges, hazel grouses, turtles, snakes and etc. Occasionally attacks the foxes and badgers.

The Kazakh names of Golden Eagle. Long since Golden Eagle is used as hunting bird. The hunting with Golden Eagle is specific , at the present time, is supported by the experts – hunters (berkutchi). A hunting with Golden eagle requires special knowledge and patience. The hunters – berkutchi names Golden Eagle depending on age: till 1 year – balapan, 2-year’s – kantubit, 3-year’s – tyrnekl, 4-year’s – tastulek, 5-year’s – muzbalak, 6-year’s – koktubit, 7-year’s – kana, 8-year’s – zhana, 9-year’s – maytubit, 10-year’s – barkyn, 11-year’s – barshyn, 12-year’s – shogel. Golden Eagle is a very rare bird and booked in the Red book of Kazakhstan and USSR.

Hunting with Golden Eagle is one of the most unique features of the Kazakh life. The hunter is named kusbegi or berkutchi. The experience of wild birds training was gained by Kazakh kusbegi by centuries, the secrets were impacted from the father to the son and kept deep secret. At the present time we can meet few people with such name. These masters have innate gift of wild birds training. For a hunting they tame falcons, golden eagles and eagles. Names of birds are given depending on their appearance and battle characteristics. The hunting with Golden Eagle are during ten centuries. Was considered, to present the teenager a nestling of hunting bird, means, to wish to him to begin courageous, strong dzhigit. To train golden eagle – it is the high art. The caught bird gradually accustom to the owner. For it berkutchi some nights doesn’t close eyes and interdicts to sleep golden eagle. The bird can take feed (bits of uncooked meat) only from hands of the owner. After bird will get used to the hunter- berkutchi, his horse and dog, berkutchi begins to train to hunt for stuffed fox and only then the real hunting begins. Specially trained golden eagle hunts for small animals: rabbits, foxes, partridge, black hazel grouses.

Equipment for a hunting with hunting birds. For a hunting with hunting birds specially prepare equipment: a coverlet, cap, couch and leash. Bardak – special wooden prop for a hand – try without it to bring on the stretched out hand a bird of weight 6-7 kg! Shyrga – skin of hare or fox is filled with straw. This is manual for a bird. The hunter drags along shyrga with long rope along steppe and teachs golden eagle to attack prey. Kusbegi must have inexhaustible patience and persistence.

There are many legends about Altai Kazakh Eagle hunting.As far,we keep in touch with Altai Kazakh Eagle hunters every day and live together, decided to publish a legends,articles and Eagle hunter’s talking.

1.Eagle hunter-Kuanbay,

I think Kazakh Eagle hunting has over 2000 years history.When i was child (around 1950 yrs) famous local Eagle hunters Sepdolda and Juldyzbai took me as scare-boy for fox and rabbit.During hunting they made really often breaks and Eagle hunters talked to each other about Eagle hunting history.

Sepdolda said:

-Old time Kazakhs called eagle as Shegirbayan.One Kazakh eagle hunter after long day hunting came to Kazakh nomadic family to spend overnight.As Kazakhs are grade hospitality people,host killed one of his 6-7 goats to feed his guest.This family didn’t have child.When host saw how eagle is cold,hungry and tired asked his wife to make fire for all night,so eagle can stay warm.Gave to eagle some meat.Next morning hunter left a family with his magnificent bird after good rest and said many thank to host,because they fed-up his bird also. Eagle was ready for next hunting.

After this visit, wife gave a birth to boy.And host thought,that god gave this boy,because his family fed up the eagle.from this moment,Altai Kazakhs call the eagle like “Birkut”,which means fed-up in English.