Mongolia celebrates many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, and one of the most important of them is Naadam festival which is held in summer months all over the country. While the national celebration of Naadam is held on 11th and 12th of July every year in the central stadium, each province and soum (equivalent to villages) also organize their own local Naadam festival throughout summer months, mostly in July and August. Given its importance and unique celebrations, Naadam was registered in Unesco`s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.
PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.mnb.mn
Here are the 4 important reasons why you should experience Naadam festival in Mongolia:
- Three manly games. Wrestling, archery and horse race constitute the Three manly games, and these are the main symbols of Naadam festival. National wrestling tournament continues for 2 days with either 512 or 1024 wrestlers competing. Traditionally only males were allowed to compete in all three manly games, but with time changing, now women can compete in archery and horse race, but not in wrestling; wrestling is still only for men. Archery competition is outside the main stadium, therefore a visitor will have a chance to experience both archery and wrestling at one location while horse race is held outside the city.
- The opening ceremony in the national stadium. Music, dance, colorful costumes and unique art performances all can be witnessed at the grand opening ceremony of National Naadam festival. No wonder, it is one of the most popular events for locals and tourists alike. The ceremony is held on 11th July at 11 am every year. Tickets to the opening ceremony is hard to get due to its popularity, therefore international visitors are usually encouraged to book ahead.
- A series of events are held throughout the week. Naadam festival week is the best time to experience Mongolian culture at its best. In addition to the festival itself and its three manly games, a series of other events are organized in the city for whole week, including Deeltei Mongol costume festival (locals and foreigners gather on the main square with Mongolian traditional costumes), open air opera and ballet performances, and many more.
- Huushuur and Airag. One cannot truly experience the Naadam until they have eaten Huushuur (fried dough with meat inside) and drunk Airag (fermented mare`s milk), the main food of the festival. Huushuur is sold everywhere in town, especially outside the central stadium where hundreds of small stalls are selling fresh huushuur. Airag also can be easily found outside the stadium or in the countryside.
July is the busiest month for Mongolian tourism with about half of all tourists per year choose July to visit Mongolia. If you are planning to experience Naadam festival in 2018, it is never too early to start planning.
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