Golden eagles festival
The golden eagles festival is a traditional annual festival held in the province of Bayan Ölgii during the first weekend of October. The Mongolian Association of falconers organizes it. It marks the beginning of the hunting season.
During the golden eagles festival, the Kazakh falconers, ”berkutshi”, honour their cultural heritage and compete. The aim of the competition is to catch some small animals like foxes or hares with their eagles that have been trained for many years. Doing this, they highlight the agility of their eagle, but also their own ability to tame a wild animal. Awards are given for the rapidity, the agility or the precision of the eagles, but also for the nicest Kazakh traditional costume.
Ten kilometres (6,24 miles) from the centre of Ölgii, you can see the opening ceremony, a parade with all the falconers, some cultural exhibitions, some shows, and an introduction to Kazakh traditional craftwork. There are also some sports activities and competitions. The entrants wear their falconer costume, ride their horse and compete to win the prizes of best eagle and falconer, best eagle hunting, or best eagle spotting its master. Among the other sports activities, you can attend horse racing, archery, or the very popular bushkashi, in which some horsemen must catch the remains of a goat and try to bring it to their camp while the other contestants try to catch it.
Another smaller festival takes place each year in the neighbouring village of Sagsai during the last fifteen days of September (ask for the precise days).