Naadam Festival is the most famous festival and the biggest national holiday of Mongolia. It allows travelers to mingle with Mongolians and observe the authentic traditional culture. Naadam is not a tourist event, but a holiday Mongolians celebrate by competing and playing traditional sports and games.

Our website visitors and readers planning to attend the Naadam Festival will get the most experiential information and advice on how to enjoy and understand the festival, how to make your holiday interesting, filled with unique experiences and activities, and celebrate together with Mongolians.

We arrange tours including Ulaanbaatar's main Naadam festival and a local Naadam festival in northern Mongolia by the beautiful lake Khuvsgul. The origin of the Naadam festival is truly ancient.” Naadam” means festival or feast of sports. Therefore, it is correct to say "Naadam" instead of Naadam Festival. The Naadam is locally termed “Eriin Gurvan Naadam” which means “three manly sports.” The three sports are horse racing, wrestling, and archery. A traditional ankle-bone-shooting game was added later. So there are four games during Naadam.
Women can participate in the horse race, archery, and ankle-bone shooting, but not in the wrestling.
In ancient times, the Mongolian kings and military generals used to train the warriors and warriors' main war tool horses while competing and feasting during the three manly traditional sports. It has been celebrated as a national holiday since the Mongolian People's Revolution in 1921.
Mongolians dress in colorful traditional clothes and ride their most beautiful horses when attending the Naadam in the countryside. The official celebration takes place throughout the country on 11 and 12 July, annually. Particularly, the State Naadam Festival in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is the most marvelous one, involving a wider range of and the most outstanding competitors of the games.

Mongolia has 21 provinces, and their 333 soums (small administrative divisions/towns). All provinces and towns celebrate their festivals locally. Some of the administrative units celebrate their festival on different dates depending on special celebrity occasions, anniversaries happening at certain times, pastureland and animal conditions etc. As additionally, celebrating the Naadam on different dates than the big Naadam celebrated in Ulaanbaatar allows their local wrestlers, archers, and racehorses to take part in the big competitions and celebration. Annually, thousands of tourists travel to Mongolia to attend this breathtaking event, including many journalists and TV channels, which broadcast the celebration worldwide.

Nadaam is not only a festival and holiday, but a day Mongolians are proud of their tradition and nomadic culture. The Naadam in Ulaanbaatar allows its audience to see the colorful celebration, parades, cultural performances, evening shows, and the traditional sports, while the countryside festivals allow their viewers to participate and mingle with the locals. The Naadam is not solely about the sport; visitors also try traditional meals and drinks including the fermented mare's milk "Airag", see Naadam trade and buy souvenirs etc. The archery, ankle-bone-shooting game and wrestling take place in the main arena in the downtown in Ulaanbaatar, while the horse racing takes place on an open field 30km west of Ulaanbaatar.
Travelers visiting during Nadaam are assisted with scheduling in order to more fully experience this unique festival. Ulaanbaatar’s Naadam opening ceremony starts at the National Stadium at 11 AM on 11 July annually when the symbolic Nine White Banners are ceremonially transferred by horse soldiers from the Government House to Naadam Stadium and the Mongolian president delivers a speech. Festivities include impressive shows, demonstrations, matches and performances offered during the Naadam opening. The Nine White Banners being carried by Mongolian horse soldiers from Sukhbaatar Square to Nadaam Stadium is one of the most impressive and memorable spectacles one can witness during Naadam, but missed by many visitors. Some choose to see the first part of the banner transfer while others follow the parade the entire route (approximately 3km) to Naadam Stadium.

Who organizes Naadam?

Naadam is the biggest event among Mongolian nomads. The Naadam Festival was celebrated in Mongolia even during the communist regimes. The State Naadam is funded by the government budget. Local government budgets and community fundraising fund the local Naadams. All provinces and towns celebrate their own Naadam Festivals. There are about 22,400 wrestlers, 105,000 horses ridden by child jockeys and 9,500 archers competing in the festivals nationwide.

Evening party on the main square

There are various performances and shows on Sukhbaatar Square on the 10, 11 and 12 July. Festivities continue on these days well into the night and there are several fireworks displays, including the Sukhbaatar Square display at 11 PM on 11 July.


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