Arlette Weiland

Written by Arlette Weiland

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The Naadam Festival is a vibrant and exciting traditional event that takes place annually in Mongolia. This festivities-packed celebration showcases the rich cultural heritage of the Mongolian people and has become a significant event on the country’s calendar. Naadam, which means “the three games of men”, features three main sporting competitions: wrestling, horse racing, and archery. However, there is much more to this festival than just sports. It is a time when communities come together to honor their history, showcase their skills, and celebrate their unity. The Naadam Festival offers a unique and thrilling experience for locals and visitors alike, with its colorful parades, traditional music and dance performances, and delicious traditional cuisine. In this article, we will delve into 12 fascinating facts about the Naadam Festival, offering a deeper insight into this remarkable celebration of Mongolian culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Naadam Festival in Mongolia is a vibrant celebration of traditional sports and cultural performances, showcasing the country’s rich heritage and unity.
  • This annual festival, featuring wrestling, horse racing, and archery, offers a unique and immersive experience for travelers seeking to explore Mongolia’s fascinating traditions and customs.
Table of Contents

Origins in Ancient Times

The Naadam Festival has its roots traced back to the ancient times of the Mongolian empire. It was originally held as a way to showcase the military strength and prowess of the warriors.

Held Annually

The Naadam Festival takes place once a year, usually during the month of July. It is a national holiday in Mongolia, and the festivities last for several days.

Three Main Competitions

The festival revolves around three main traditional competitions: Mongolian wrestling, horse racing, and archery. These sports have been practiced in Mongolia for centuries and are deeply ingrained in its cultural fabric.

Test of Strength and Technique

Mongolian wrestling, known as “Bökh”, is a traditional combat sport where the objective is to throw the opponent off balance and make them touch the ground with any part of their body, except for their feet.

Horse Racing Across Vast Plains

The horse races during the Naadam Festival cover incredible distances, with children as young as five years old participating. The races can span up to 30 kilometers and showcase the horsemanship skills of the young jockeys.

Precision Archery Skills

Archery in Mongolia is a traditional sport that requires exceptional hand-eye coordination and precision. Participants compete to hit targets placed at varying distances.

Traditional Attire

During the Naadam Festival, participants wear their finest traditional clothing, which includes colorful robes, ornate headpieces, and intricately decorated boots. The attire reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Mongolian people.

Cultural Performances and Parades

The festival is not just about sports, but also a celebration of Mongolian culture. Spectators can enjoy traditional dances, music performances, and parades featuring vibrant costumes and traditional musical instruments.

Live Music Accompaniment

During the competitions, live musicians play traditional Mongolian instruments such as the morin khuur (horsehead fiddle) and the yoochin (zither). The music adds to the excitement and atmosphere of the festival.

A Symbol of National Pride

The Naadam Festival holds great significance for the Mongolian people. It symbolizes their national pride, unity, and the preservation of their rich cultural heritage.

UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

In 2010, the Naadam Festival was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, recognizing its importance and value in promoting cultural diversity.

A Must-See Cultural Experience

For travelers seeking an immersive cultural experience, attending the Naadam Festival is an absolute must. It provides a glimpse into the fascinating traditions and customs of Mongolia and offers an unforgettable adventure.

So, whether you are drawn to the thrilling competitions or the vibrant cultural performances, exploring the Naadam Festival is a truly unique and enriching experience.


The Naadam Festival is an incredible cultural event that showcases the rich history and traditions of Mongolia. From the thrilling sports competitions to the vibrant cultural performances, Naadam is a celebration of the Mongolian identity and heritage. The festival brings together people from all over the country and the world to experience the unique customs and traditions of the Mongolian nomadic culture.

Whether you are witnessing the fierce wrestling matches, the exhilarating horse racing, or the accurate archery contests, Naadam offers a glimpse into the past while celebrating the present. It is a time when the spirit of competition, camaraderie, and pride fills the air, creating a truly memorable experience for both locals and visitors alike.

If you have the opportunity, make sure to attend the Naadam Festival and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Mongolian culture. It is an event that will leave a lasting impression and provide you with an unforgettable journey through the history and traditions of this remarkable country.


1. What is the Naadam Festival?

The Naadam Festival is a traditional festival held annually in Mongolia, featuring the “Three Manly Games” – wrestling, horse racing, and archery. It is a celebration of Mongolian culture and heritage.

2. When does the Naadam Festival take place?

The Naadam Festival is typically held in July, with the main events taking place from July 11th to July 13th. However, the dates may vary slightly each year, so it’s best to check the exact dates before planning your trip.

3. How long does the Naadam Festival last?

The Naadam Festival is a multi-day event, with the main festivities spanning over three days. The wrestling, horse racing, and archery competitions are held during this time, along with various cultural performances and celebrations.

4. Can anyone participate in the Naadam Festival?

The wrestling and archery competitions are open to Mongolian men only, while the horse racing is open to children aged 5-13. However, anyone can attend and spectate the events as they are open to the public.

5. Where is the Naadam Festival held?

The Naadam Festival is held throughout Mongolia, with the biggest and most renowned celebrations taking place in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. However, you can also find smaller Naadam events held in various cities and regions across the country.

Naadam Festival showcases Mongolia's rich heritage through traditional sports, cultural performances, and lively celebrations. Delve into more fascinating events like Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, where traditional sports take center stage. Discover thrilling horse racing facts that will leave you in awe. Explore vibrant cultural festivals in Wheaton, Illinois, for a glimpse into diverse traditions. Each event offers a unique experience, immersing you in the heart of local cultures and age-old customs. Embark on a journey of discovery as you uncover the captivating world of festivals and sporting events from around the globe.

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