Naadam Festival - Mongolia
The wild and untamed landscape of Mongolia is a fascinating combination of awe-inspiring mountains and lush valleys to vast stretches of arid desert. But the underlying attraction of Mongolia, trekking through tiny villages and distant outposts, is meeting the people. If you’re lucky enough to be able to plan your Mongolia trekking adventure during the festival of Naadam you will be privy to a fascinating and authentic experience of the country’s culture.
Naadam celebrates Mongolia’s National Day with the emphasis on the celebrations! It is the biggest and most important festival of the year and runs over a three-day period usually in July. Translated literally, Naadam means ‘competition’ and there are plenty of those. Horse-racing, archery and wrestling competitions are held over the first two days, and the third is when the party happens! Described as the ‘happiest time for Mongolians’, Naadam is quite simply, joyous.
Although the entire festival is a fast-paced and eclectic sensory experience, probably the most thrilling events are the horse races. Sometimes up to 1,000 participants take part over grassland ‘tracks’ of varying lengths. Young jockeys train for the most part of the year to enter the races and to win is a great honour.
For something a little slower-paced but no less enthusiastic, the wrestling matches are a test of endurance as much as strength. There are no weight divisions and any size wrestlers can be pitted against each other. It’s not over until someone is forced to the ground and matches can often be only seconds long or stretch to many minutes.
Experiencing the colourful Naadam festival is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that definitely become one of the highlights of your Mongolia trekking memori