The Festivals of Mongolia
Mongolian festivals take place throughout the year and are mostly celebrations of Mongolian Culture. Here are some of our favourite Mongolian festivals and celebrations that we can weave into your next holiday to Mongolia.
Mongolian festivals can be intimate village affairs or huge national spectacles. We love the local experiences and social interactions of the smaller events so can design your journey so that you can share the celebrations with a family or community; there's nothing better than cheering on the eagle hunter on wrestler that you have just spent the last few days with.
Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian Lunar New Year)
Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar) is normally celebrated somewhere between the end of January and end of February. The traditional Tsagaan Sar feast includes dairy products, mutton and horse meat, rice with curds, buuz (dumplings) and a ‘mountain’ of cookies stacked high and, of course, airag (fermented mare’s milk). Families visit each other to pay their respects and eat mountains of dumplings. Join a family to experience their legendary hospitality and be a part of their community at this time of great festivity. Immerse yourself in the Mongolian culture and experience first hand the ceremonies and customs of this special festival. Read more
Khovsgol Ice Festival
March is witness to the unique Ice Festival at Lake Khovsgol. This time of year offers the rare opportunity of experiencing one of the deepest winters on the planet with temperatures regularly dropping below -35°C. The wind can make even moderate temperatures seem much colder, so this festival is not for the faint hearted! The enchanting ice festival with horse-sled races, ice rally-driving, wrestling, and tug-o'-war are all held on the frozen lake which offers the perfect light in the afternoon for those interested in photography. Read more
Gobi Camel Festival
The Thousand Camel Festival, held in the Gobi Desert, is a celebration of the endangered Bactrian camel and the role it plays in the lives of the Gobi’s nomads. Camel racing and polo competitions, as well as performances of traditional Mongolian music and dance, are among the highlights of this annual event. Taking in the beautiful scenery of the Gobi Desert with its towering dunes, glacial canyons and red sandstone cliffs; this is the land of the Bactrian camel and is the best time to see them in all their fluffy winter splendour when their coats at their thickest. Read more
Nauryz (Spring/New Life) Festival
Nauryz is a new year celebration for the Mongolian Kazakhs, many of whom live in the Bayan Ulgii province. Kazakhs call the month of March 'Nauryz' – this is the time of renewed life which comes with the spring. The non-religious Nauryz celebrations take place on 21-22 March, the day of the spring equinox. People believe the more generous the celebration of Nauryz, the happier the year would be. A time to settle rivalries, upset and debts then fill all vessels in the house with milk, airan (plain yogurt), grain, and spring water to gain good yield, fortune and plenty of rain during the coming year.
Naadam is celebrated every summer throughout Mongolia across every province, in most towns and villages. Local Naadam celebrations are our favourite of the Naadam festivals – none of the queues, crowds and pollution of the big festival in Ulaanbaatar. The atmosphere is fantastic. In traditional dress, the colourful spectators watch competitors take part in the three ‘manly’ sports of archery, wrestling and horse racing. Tradition states that only men will wrestle, men and women can participate in archery and children (some as young as five) are jockeys for the races up to distances of 35km. Read more
There are two Golden Eagle Festivals held each year, in September and October respectively when the weather is beginning to get cold and the eagles are livening up ready for a winter of hunting. The ancient art of falconry as practised by the Kazakhs in the west has remained unchanged for millennia. Admire the speed and power of the noble eagle and marvel at the close relationship that exists between her and her master. Set against the majestic Altai mountain views, this is an experience that truly epitomises Mongolia. Read more about visiting an Eagle festival.
Do you want to join the fun and spectacle of a Mongolian Festival? Check out some of our itineraries for inspiration and talk to us about creating one just for you.