Read it in French: Festival de Naadam
If you don’t already know, the Naadam festival is the time of the year when Mongolians celebrate the founding of Mongolia in 1206 by Temuujin, AKA Chinggis Khaan. It’s a cheerful month with games, cultural foods, and all around celebration throughout the country.
Come join the fun and experience the Naadam festival for yourself.
Compared to Western style of archery where you shoot at a bullseye target, Mongolian archery is about getting as many points as possible from hitting small targets.
Men shoot from a range of 75 meters whereas women from 65 meters. You can join the cheer and yell “UUHAI” whenever someone makes a big hit.
Bukh, Mongolian wrestling, is the most popular sport in Mongolia, and it’s fairly common to see young boys and men wrestling just for fun.
During the Naadam festival national championships, 512 of the best wrestlers are paired with one another until there is only 1 contestant standing. For detailed info about Mongolian wrestling you can read it on Wikipedia.
Mongolian horse racing is not so much about luck but preparation, stamina, and strategy. While small and short, Mongolian horses excel at riding over long distances and is one of the most decorated animals in Mongolia.
The jockeys or riders are usually kids and they ride 15-30kms depending on the age of the horses and events.
If you want to get the real life action of these events, it’s best to book a ticket and watch the games at the Tsengeldeh Khureelen, Mongolia’s national stadium for Naadam. If you don’t order your tickets early, it can be sold out, in that case, you can perhaps get some airag, fry some Khuushuur while you watch the games on TV.
However, if you happen to be out on the countryside or a sum, a local village, you won’t have much trouble viewing the local competitions or even partake in the events yourself.
While you may not qualify for national championship for wrestling, local wrestling competitions in the sum or villages are very open to foreigners. The rules are simple, don’t fall on your knees, back, or elbows before your opponent does.
There is no time limit and you only get one chance, so some matches can last hours! But, who knows? You might just become the champion of the village.
There is no good national holiday without good food. While visiting Mongolia, you are bound to try authentic Mongolian cuisines out in the countryside. Mongolian food is very basic, but the preparation methods make it truly unique.
Foods you are most likely to try are buuz, khuushuur, uuts, khorkhog, and nermel arkhi, suutei tsai, and airag for specialty drinks. If you want to read more about authentic Mongolian cuisines, click here.
Why should you come watch the national horse racing event? According to Mongolian legends, watching horses race gives your spirit and soul extra charm and that the sweat of the race horses gives you good fortunes for the year.
And speaking of horses, especially during the Naadam festival, you must try riding one. Whether you are only visiting the capital Ulaanbaatar or taking a tour through the countryside, there will be many opportunities for you to ride a horse.
July is the most optimal time of the year for camping trips and enjoying the beautiful Mongolian nature. If you didn’t know, Mongolia is not only steppes and desert, but a very diverse landscape of cliffs, forests, and desert.