Event date: 11-13 July
Venue: Throughout Mongolia
Naadam Festival is Mongolian most famous, interesting festival, major biggest holiday and a wonderful time to experience the culture and people of this amazing land.
Naadam Festival is Mongolian major holiday and a wonderful time to experience the culture and people of this amazing land. The festival has its roots in the nomad wedding assemblies and hunting extravaganzas of the Mongol Army. The opening ceremony features marches and music from soldiers, monks and athletes before the real fun begins! In the Naadam Stadium, the three sporting passions of Mongolians, horse racing, wrestling and archery, are played out over 2 days.
But if you don’t want to watch sports all the time, there’s plenty to see and do outside – food, music, crafts or just watching people and culture. This is the best time to see the Mongolian people and soak up the party atmosphere!
Mongolians consider that there are 33 different Gobi , where sandy desert occupies only 3 percent of the total territory. South Gobi is located 553 km from Ulaanbaatar, average altitude of 1406 meters above sea level. In reality, most part of the Gobi Desert is a land of steppes and it is the home for camel breeders rich with wildlife and vegetation. Khongor- Mongolian largest sand dune reaching a height of 800-meter in some highest areas.
Bayanzag, the red cliffs were on the sea bottom in ancient times and still have petrified bones and eggs of dinosaurs from 60 million years ago. Of the twelve species of predatory dinosaurs, eight of them were found in Mongolia – the most famous discovery being made by Roy Chapman Andrews in the 1920s who dug up the remains of two dinosaurs who had fought each other to death. Our tour takes you to the cliffs and to see the remains found so far – an amazing experience to tell your friends back home.
Naadam is the 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.
The biggest festival of the Mongolian year is the Naadam Festival celebrated in Mongolia nationwide on July 11-13.
Naadam is properly know as “Eryn gurvan naadam”, after the three manly games of wrestling, horse racing, and archery making up the core activities of the National Festival. Mongolians love to dress in their best traditional costumes and riding on their most beautiful horses during Naadam.
Mongolian wrestling has no weight divisions, so mostly the biggest wrestlers are often the best. The wrestlers are divided into 2 sides and it begins with zasuul honoring the glorious titled wrestlers to each other by their unique sounded speech and while wrestlers do short eagle dance by putting hand at the shoulder of the zasuul. Wrestler wears gutul heavy big boots, shuudag tight unflattering pants and zodog open-fronted and long sleeved small vest across the shoulders. Winners are bestowed glorious titles depending on how many rounds they win. There are nachin (falcon) – 5 rounds; khartsaga (hawk) – 6 rounds; zaan (elephant) – 7 rounds; garid (the Garuda) – 8 rounds and arslan (lion) – given to the winner of the tournament. When an arslan wins 2 years in a row he becomes an avarga, or titan. One renowned wrestler was given the most prestigious and lengthy title of the ‘Eye-Pleasing Nationally Famous Mighty and Invincible Giant’. All titles signify strength and are given during the national festival Naadam. There is a variety of wrestling methods and some elders say there are hundreds of them. Mongolians are really excellent at wrestling, riding and archery.
Mongolians loved horse racing for over 11 centuries. In modern times, horse racing is mainly held during Naadam Festival and Lunar New Year. Riders are kids from age five to 12. There are six categories of horse racing, depending on the age of the horses; shudlen a two-year-old horse will race for 15km while six-year-old azarga and ikh nas horses race for up to 30km. There is no special track but just open countryside. Before a race, the riders sing an ancient song –Gyngoo for the horses wishing for strength and speed and audience all decked out in traditional finery. Some riders prefer saddle and some not. The winner is declared tumnii ekh, or ‘leader of 10 thousand’ and the five winning horses are admired and the riders drink some special airag and sprinkles on the horse’s back. After the races, praise-singer extols the best riders and their horses and 5 winning horses and theirs owners would be talked about in reverence by the crowd.
Five lines engraved on an ancient Mongolian target immortalizing the phenomenal record of Yesuhei- baatar, saying that his arrow hit the target at a distance of 536 meters. The bow is an ancient invention dating back to the Mesolithic Period. Ancient Mongolians contributed to design of the bow as a combat weapon. Today, Mongolians use less complicated form of archery than in the ancient times; targeting at cork cylinders braided together with leather straps. It is four meters in line and 50cm high. The target is placed on the ground at a distance of 75 meters for men and 60 meters for women. In the past, Mongolians used three types of bows; “big hand” (165-170cm),”average hand” (160cm), “small hand' (150cm). Today Mongolians mostly use the average hand bow, which requires a force of 22 to 38kg to draw.
Arrows are made of pine wood and feather fins allowing it to reach distance of 900 meters. Naadam archery also attracts individual archers as well as team of 8-12 persons. Male archer shoots forty arrows at each target. Traditionally dressed judges stand by the targets raising their hands in the air to indicate the quality of the shot with uukhai sound but surprisingly never get injured. They praise the best shot in a traditional drawing recitative voice.