The Naadam Festival also known as eriyn gurvan nadaam (эрийн гурван наадам) means “the three games of men” and is celebrated in July, each year.
This year the festival falls on the weekend of the 11th to 13th July and the celebration kicks off with an opening ceremony on the first day, which includes a parade hosted by local Mongolians, music influenced by the Mongolian military and a march displayed by Mongolian soldiers. This in part commemorates the revolution of 1921 when Mongolia declared itself an independent country.
The remainder of the festival focuses on three key competitions: wrestling, horse racing and archery. Each of these games capture the historical and cultural significance important to local Mongolians, today, that remember their ancestral roots.
Wrestling signifies the belief that men, and in particular soldiers, should remain at the peak of their fitness. Unlike modern wrestling, the competition at Naadam has unusual rules: the weight of the competitor has no consequence – a small person may be matched against a larger person – and with no time limits too, these guidelines make it a thrilling event to watch!
Horse racing displays how Mongolians traditionally relied on horses for all aspects of their development. Traditionally, horses became their means of transport, their ability to feed and support themselves and even enabled Mongolian people to interact socially with fellow Mongolians that lived further afield. Even today, many Mongolians rely on horses as a means of transportation and to support their welfare, while children learn to ride a horse from an early age, including toddlers as young as 2 years old.
Archery showcases the strategy of Mongolian soldiers over centuries. Over hundreds of years, soldiers develop their combat skills using archery, though they also used archery to hunt for food and provide sustenance to the army too. Traditionally, archery allowed Mongolians to establish their place as great warriors of the time and this pride carries over to Mongolians, even today, showcased throughout the Naadam celebrations.
At Real Russia, we believe the Naadam Festival is an event everyone should experience. Alongside the tri-sports, there are many other events to enjoy, including folk dancers, exhibitions and craft fairs. Many people at the festival dress in traditional costumes, allowing you to immerse yourself in the customs of Mongolians, even further!
If you would like to visit the Naadam festival or to travel to Mongolia, we have a range of fixed tours and excursions that allow you to indulge in the magnificence of Mongolia. Please contact our travel team who will be happy to offer advice inspiring your dream trip!