There’s a wide range of Mongolia festivals taking place throughout the year. Some are a traditional part of the fabric of Mongolian life. Others are newer but still celebrate an aspect of Mongolian culture. Here is a brief guide to some of those festivals although new events are being added each year by local provincial governments and the Mongolian Tourism Association. Get in touch for details.
Tsagaan Sar – Mongolian Lunar New Year – Jan/Feb
Tsagaan Sar (White Month) is Mongolia’s Lunar New Year. It falls on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. It is a deeply traditional holiday when Mongolians come together to show respect to the family elders and to renew friendship.
We offer a short five-day Tsagaan Sar experience where you are hosted by some of the rural families we work closely with – providing you with a more personal understanding of this important time of year.
Khovsgol Ice Festival – Khovsgol Nuur – Early March
The Ice Festival is held over two days at Khovsgol Nuur National Park in northern Mongolia. The frozen lake – Mongolia’s largest freshwater lake – freezes over and forms the spectacular venue outside the small community of Khatgal. Held to promote tourism outside of the main tourist season events include ice sculpting, ice sumo, ice ankle bone shooting and horse sled races.
Thousand Camel Festival – Southern Gobi – Early March
The camel festival is an annual celebration held in the southern Gobi organised by a local NGO to help protect the Bactrian camel and the essential role it plays in the lives of the nomadic herders in the region.
Highlights include camel races, camel polo competitions and traditional performances of Mongolian music and dance.
Nauryz – Bayan Ulgii – March 21st
Nauryz means ‘new day’ and is the spring festival that is celebrated through Central Asia and falls on the spring equinox. In Ulgii in Western Mongolia, there is a colourful community parade. There are also ‘eagle festivals’ arranged by local eagle hunters and communities where horse racing and games take place including bushkashi (also known as kolpar) where horse-
Saikhan Yak Festival – Southern Gobi – typically late May
Based in Yolyn Am in Gobi Gurvan Saikhan National Park in the southern Gobi. Yak herders are in the minority in the Gobi but due to the altitude and terrain of the Gobi Gurvan Saikhan there is a community of yak herders. The Saikhan Yak Festival is a yearly event organised by the Governing Administration of Omnogobi Aimag and held in the magnificent mountain landscapes of Yolyn Am –
National Naadam Ulaanbaatar – July 11th and 12th
This national event is held in Ulaanbaatar on July 11th and 12th (with horse racing taking place in the week leading up to the event). The dates are the anniversary of the 1921 Revolution led by the Mongolian revolutionary Sukhbaatar that brought independence from the Manchurians (Qing Dynasty).
Don’t be put off by what other companies say is a ‘tourist event’ – it isn’t. Naadam in Ulaanbaatar is a celebration of first-class sportsmanship, ordinary people taking pride in their country and century’s old tradition melded together. It is also a time when Mongolians celebrate who they are, how proud they are to be Mongolian, their heritage and the qualities that produced the warrior nation of Chinggis Khan.
Local Naadam – Countrywide
These take place throughout the summer throughout all aimags (provinces). Districts and smaller communities also host their own festival. Each aimag decides on their own festival dates and the smaller the event, the more likely the date will not be set until a month before. Naadam is a holiday and a celebration and so most communities decide an auspicious day from the Mongolian Lunar Calendar.
Some of the smaller community festivals are typically only advertised by word of mouth within the local community a few days prior to the event.
Felting and Yak Festival – Orkhon Valley – Late July
Held close to Ulaan Tsutgalan (the Orkhon Waterfall) in the central heartland it is a celebration of local community, networking and collaboration to ensure a better future for the region and its herding community.
They’ll be yak racing and yak polo and even a yak beauty pageant (although the criteria for the winning yak is never clearly announced or explained). As with most Mongolian festivals it includes a concert of traditional music and dance.
Eagle Festival – Altai – September and October
The festival helps to promote Kazakh culture in western Mongolia, to promote the sport of hunting with eagles and is said to be the start of the eagle hunting season. Run by the Mongolian Eagle Hunter’s Association and sponsored by tour operators, competition is typically fierce.
Sagsai Eagle Festival is held the third weekend of September in Sagsai –