Mongolia’s Thousand Camel Festival is a yearly event – falling on the same date each year. Taking place on March 6th and 7th, this is Mongolia’s only festival dedicated to the Bactrian camel. Put the date and location in your diary. It takes place in Bulgan Soum – a district of Mongolia’s Omnogobi Province in the southern Gobi.
This is annual celebration held in the southern Gobi was first initiated in 1997 and is organised by a local NGO and the Governor’s Office of Onmogobi Provinceto help protect the Bactrian camel and the essential role it plays in the lives of the nomadic herders in the region.
It is a celebration of the way of life in the harsh Gobi and a chance for the local herders to come together as a community at what can be quite an isolating time of year. Mongolian people love a celebration and this comes across in the atmosphere. It’s an entertaining two days of events that feature various contests including camel races, camel polo competitions even a camel beauty pageant (although the criteria for the winning camel is never clearly announced or explained).
There is also a traditional ankle bone (knuckle bone) shooting competition which is much more exciting than this short description implies. As with most Mongolian festivals it includes an evening concert of traditional music and dance. Don’t get caught up in notions of authenticity – the Thousand Camel Festival features a lot of local involvement. The festival draws local Mongolian spectators as well as westerners and the locals are always more enthusiastic. It often feels like a party for locals, thrown by locals.