Here we have gathered everything you need to know about the Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia as an FAQ.
1. What is the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia?
The Golden Eagle Festival is a Mongolian annual two-day Eagle hunting festival organized by the local Golden Eagle Hunter’s Association. Since the very first festival held in 1999 in Ulgii town in western Mongolia, it has continuously been organized annually over the years.
2. When is the Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia?
There are 3 different Golden Eagle Festivals. Two in September and one in October.
- Nomadic Games Eagle Festival is on the 15-16 September in Altai Soum or town.
- Sagsai or Tolbo Eagle Festival is on the 20-21 September.
- Main Eagle Festival is on the first weekend of October in Ulgii town.
3. Why are there different Golden Eagle festivals?
Over the years both the number of eagle trainers, participants and visitors increased tremendously. This resulted in a need for the festival to expand more and more. Of course, there is also a limitation of the local town, and the local flight capacity from Ulaanbaatar to Bayan-Ulgii province limits the size of the festival. In the end, these problems are being solved with the Golden Eagle festival happening at different periods of time in autumn.
Now, there is a size difference between these Festivals. The main festival in October is the biggest, meanwhile, the other 2 festivals are smaller and more for locals to enjoy.
4. Why is the festival organized in September and October?
After the very first snowfall in autumn, many trails of footprints of wild animals show up on the snow. This declares the start of the hunting season for hunters with golden eagles in Mongolia.
During the old times, with the first snowfall mainly in September and October, at the end of the day, the hunters gathered together to have a ceremony that allowed them to socialize with other hunters.
5. Why the festival called the Golden Eagle Festival?
From 60 species of Eagles around the World, the Golden Eagle is the most beautiful and most widely distributed species of eagle. Therefore, the specific species of Golden Eagle has been trained and used for hunting over many hundreds of years in Central Mongolia.
Since 1999, the Golden Eagle Festival was initiated and started for all the eagle hunters in Mongolia to test their skills. There are 2 competitions at the festival entirely dedicated to these beautiful and skilled hunting eagles.
6. Why people celebrate Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia?
The tradition of Hunting with an Eagle has been practiced all over central Asia for hundreds of years, especially in the Kazakh and Kirgiz traditions. The Kazakh population is concentrated in the western province of Bayan-Ulgii and the Khovd region of western Mongolia, the place the Eagle Festival originated from.
7. How long does the festival usually last?
This festival is a 2 full-day even with many different tournaments related to Golden Eagles and their hunters, horses, camels, and archery.
8. Where is the Eagle Festival in Mongolia?
- Ulgii town, west of Mongolia. 1.45-3hour domestic local flight away from Ulaanbaatar city. You need to drive out from Ulgii town airport for 16 km to arrive at the exact spot of the festival.
- Nomadic Games Eagle Festival- a 3hour drive from Ulgii town to Altai town.
- Sagsai /Tolbo Lake Festival- a 1.5hour drive from Ulgii town.
9. What happens at the Golden Eagle Festival?
- Opening Ceremony with Parade
- Eagle competition- Fly the eagle from on top of the hill to catch the bait for the whole day, depending on the number of Eagle masters.
- Kukbar- Goat skin competition-Tug of War;
- Picking up coin while on the gallop
- Kiz-Kuar Equine game -woman chases the man to whip!
- Mongolian archery,
- Camel race,
- Award giving ceremony
10. Is the festival open for everyone?
Yes, the Eagle Festival Mongolia is open for everyone as it is a public event. Both adults and children can participate. Only it is the west corner of Mongolia and you need to be there to participate. Driving from the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar city, will take you 2-5 days to even reach Bayan-Ulgii province, so we recommend the 1.45-3 hours domestic flight with local Mongolian airlines.
11. How much does the Golden Eagle Festival cost?
The Golden Eagle costs 30 USD per permission. Currently, there is no special fee for photography and recording at the Festival site. There is also no fee for children.
12. Why is the Golden Eagle Festival popular?
Firstly, Golden Eagle Festival has been successfully organized for over 22 years. Secondly, Aisholpan, the eagle huntress, is widely known among travelers all over the World. And most importantly, photographers highly seek out this festival. For those interested in action, portrait, and landscape photography, handcrafted intricate patterns, and bird photography with the influence of traditional nomadic culture, this festival is a must-go.
13. How to get to Golden Eagle Festival
First, you need to arrive in Ulaanbaatar city. Afterward, you take the domestic flights to Ulgii town. Alternative towns you can fly to are Khovd and Ulaangom towns in western Mongolia.
Driving from Ulaanbaatar to the festival is rather long. You might need around 2-5 days to get to Ulgii town.
14. How to book Eagle Festival Mongolia in advance?
You can book the festival as a package tour online through Tour Operators who run tours in Mongolia.
You can, of course, try to show up at the festival on your own but please be mindful of the difficulties of traveling to the festival site. For example, purchasing air tickets before they are sold out, booking accommodation, finding food near the festival site, or searching for a direct bus from Ulgii town, etc.
15. Is there a Festival program?
16. What to wear to the Festival?
The Festival is a public event, so rest assured, it doesn’t have a dress code. So, all you have to know is the weather forecast. It is warmer during Mid-September in Western Mongolia, at around +10+15C or 50+59F. However, the temperature drops dramatically in the evenings after the sunset. We expect +5+10C or +41+50F on a normal day in October.
Meanwhile, for locals and hunters at the big festivals, many of them like to have at least one day where they wear their traditional costumes. You’ll see plenty of their Kazakh Mongol costumes with beautiful hand-crocheted patterns. It’s fun to be a part of their culture and try to spot all of the different costumes and patterns alike. You will be able to buy local traditional costumes, hand-crocheted bags, fur hats, and more souvenirs at the festival site.
17. Festival food
You will find Dining Gers next to the art and souvenir shop.
Festival food isn’t always the healthiest, but delicious nonetheless. Deep-fried mutton pasty is one of the main festival foods. Another common food you will be able to buy is barbeques, usually mutton or goat. Meanwhile, the small open shops sell water and other beverages.
18. Festival toilets
Festival toilets are amongst the worst in the world. They’re often unclean and smell. Unfortunately, everyone has to use them at some point! Tour Operators try to have private toilets for their clients nowadays.
19. Coffee shops at the festival site
There could be some small places that might offer coffee during the festival. There aren’t many stools, tables, and chairs available either. However, don’t part with your coffee just yet. Your tour operator or tour provider can serve you with this delight.
20. Video closeup of the festival available?
View the Eagle Festival Mongolia close-up video here.