• Mongolian horse and rider at Naadam

  • Eagle dance by winning wrestlers

  • Mongolian archery at Naadam

  • Warming up at Naadam

  • Wrestling competition at Naadam

Naadam Festival in Mongolia – “The Three Games of Men”

27 August 2018
Central Asia

Mongolia’s annual Naadam Festival first ran in 1920 but has its roots in the centuries-old traditions of the great Khans. The “three manly sports” of wrestling, archery and horse racing — the three skills that Chingis Khan valued most for his Mongol warriors — are showcased each July as part of Mongolia’s annual Naadam Festival.

Mongolia in general and the Naadam Festival in particular have started to attract world-wide attention from those tourists seeking unique travel experiences. Unfortunately, increasing tourism has seen the part of the Festival held in Mongolia’s capital of Ulaanbaatar turn into a modern spectacle which at times feels like a performance created just for tourists. Travellers are crammed into a large stadium and a great amount of pomp creates a carnival-like atmosphere not unlike that of an Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.

In contrast, at many rural locations in the country, tucked away on a lake’s edge, in a mountainous region or on the vast steppes, locals experience a truly authentic Naadam Festival where wrestlers, archers and horse racers are not on display for tourists. They are simply locals participating in traditions so very vital to their Mongolian culture. They are not sponsored athletes but rather, simply local people honouring the traditions of their forefathers. The Naadam Festival is one of the most pure and honest cultural celebrations that to be experienced anywhere in the world.

Come join Blue Dot Travel as we travel Mongolia and experience the rural Naadam as part of our upcoming small group tours of Mongolia. Click here for more information.

Story and photos by Brod Brennan