The harsh Mongolian winters contrast with the warm welcoming from the nomadic steppe herders. We often seize the winter with its negative temperatures low as -50°C (-58°F), but this season, as hard as it is, is a magical and unique period to discover the nomadic culture and fabulous landscapes.
Winter has many festivals that can enhance your winter stay in Mongolia. Let's discover these celebrations!
THE LUNAR NEW YEAR ( TSAGAAN SAR)
• Date: February (the date is different every year according to the lunar calendar)
• Location: celebrated throughout the country
Tsagaan Sar is the lunar new year in Mongolia and symbolizes the first day of spring. The celebration dates depend on the lunar calendar. Mongolians celebrate Tsagaan Sar over three days mainly with the family by exchanging gifts, preparing large meals, and everyone dresses in their finest clothes.
ICE FESTIVAL IN KHOVSGOL LAKE
• Date: first weekend of March
• Location: Khövsgöl Lake
The ice festival is held every year on the frozen Khövsgöl Lake during the first weekend of March. The festivities take place over two days during which locals gather on the shores of the lake to participate in various events and activities.
GOLDEN EAGLE FESTIVAL
• Date: end of September and February
There are two eagle festivals in Mongolia. The most important, and oldest, festival is held in the Altai region at the end of September. In February, a small festival takes place near Ulaanbaatar. These festivals bring together the local Kazakhs for some demonstrations to present these ancestral practices to travelers and thus promote winter tourism.
During the big festival in the Altai, nearly 60 Kazakh falconers and their majestic eagles get together to demonstrate theirs with their raptor. A competition is organized in which Kazakh falconers compete against one another by trying to catch small prey with their golden eagles.
To attend this unique festival, discover our tour: Golden Eagles Festival
THE MONGOLIAN HORSES WINTER FESTIVAL
• Date: early November
• Location: Khentii Province
The horse is a great symbol of Mongolia and is at the heart of the nomadic life and culture. It is not a surprise that a festival is dedicated to them. Every year at the beginning of November a celebration takes place in the Khentii province in the east of Mongolia. Attending this festival is an opportunity to discover the true equine culture of the country. Because the traditions are still firmly rooted in the nomadic culture, each participant is proud to present their skills and knowledge with the horses. During the celebration, you will enjoy horse races, shows, arts, and national music concerts.
"SILVER REEDS" WINTER FESTIVAL
• Date: end of February, once every two years
• Location: Khar Us Lake in Khovd Province
Initiated by the World Wild Fund (WWF), the festival takes place once every two years in Khovd province in western Mongolia. It aims to promote winter tourism and to exhibit various ethnic cultures, ancient traditions, and Mongolian winter sports games. Attending this festivity is a perfect way to discover many Mongolian winter traditions such as camel and horse racing, archery, traditional dances, songs, and other activities that are organized during this day.
THOUSAND CAMELS FESTIVAL IN GOBI
• Date: early March
• Location: Bulgan Soum in the South Gobi Province
The festival of a thousand camels has been organized every year since 1997 in the Gobi desert. A local non-governmental organization working for the protection and preservation of the Bactrian camels created the festival since the camel’s population has been in constant decline for twelve years. The nomadic herders gather, dress in their best clothes, and travel thousands of kilometers on camels to join the festival for camel parades, camel polo, camel races, and other activities you can enjoy in the festival.