What makes Naadam truly enchanting is how various generations perceive its magic. For the elders, it’s a nostalgic journey back to traditions, while the youth infuses it with a modern zest, blending the ancient and contemporary. Despite these diverse lenses, Naadam unites the generations in a symphony of shared pride, ensuring its legacy resonates through time.

Dive into the vibrant minds of two exceptional individuals from Mongolia Quest, as they share their intimate thoughts on the Naadam Festival. Through their captivating stories, we invite you to unlock a deeper understanding of this cultural spectacle, enriched with personal anecdotes and treasured memories.

ODNO(Program Manager):

As a 30+ woman born in Ulaanbaatar but raised amidst the vast Mongolian countryside, my early memories of the Naadam Festival are filled with youthful innocence and unbridled joy. Let me share some cherished moments of this summer celebration deeply ingrained in the hearts of Mongols.

Childhood Innocence and Vibrant Celebrations

One of my dearest recollections is dressing up in a favorite pink dress, hand in hand with my parents and sister, walking to our soum’s Naadam stadium. Mongolian soums, or aimags, each have their dedicated stadium, symbolizing the festival’s significance. As nomads scattered across vast distances, Naadam becomes a unique occasion to unite. People would gather there, dressed in vibrant deels, riding their finest horses adorned with ornamental saddles. As nomads, our homes are scattered across vast distances, making Naadam a unique occasion that brings us all together. It’s a time for young people to form new connections and even fall in love.The stadium’s surroundings come alive with vendors showcasing unique items. For a child like me, the joy was indulging in sodas, candies, and inexpensive Chinese toys that brought momentary bliss.

The Essence of Naadam:

The main spectacle of Naadam revolves around the Three Manly Games: wrestling, archery, and horse riding. Wrestling, an exclusively male event, showcases strength and skill. Archery welcomes both men and women, while horse racing, dominated by men, also sees participation from light and small boys and girls as jockeys. These games, held simultaneously, offer spectators the chance to choose their favorite.

Despite the national holiday lasting from July 11th to the 15th, each soum and aimag in Mongolia celebrates Naadam on separate days from July to mid-August. This allows you to tour the country, experiencing the authentic charm of each celebration. Unlike the city, local Naadam celebrations allow you to engage in and experience authenticity.

From left photos: Archery, horse racing and wrestling from local Naadam celebration

Naadam in Ulaanbaatar: A Grand Affair

In Ulaanbaatar, my experiences differed. Attending the government-organized Naadam Festival with my grandmother meant enjoying cultural performances and savoring the best khuushuur – a fried pastry delicacy with a special Naadam variation. The festival in the capital is the grandest and most colorful. Dressed in our finest deels, we relished the cultural performances and embarked on a quest to find the best khuushuur. Surrounding the stadium, restaurants and renowned cooks rented pavilions, offering the beloved fried pastry, with two variations – Naadam and regular. Naadam khuushuur, in particular, is deep fried round and flat dough, filled with minced meat, onions, pepper, and salt, a culinary delight.

Student Years and City Celebrations

During my student years, I celebrated Naadam festival with my girlfriends in the city at the main stadium. We indulged in cool and sour airag, Mongol’s favorite fermented mare’s milk beverage in summer time. We entered the stadium, and we were greeted with the intense spectacle of the third round of wrestling. Depending on the year, 1,024 or 856 wrestlers vied for the city Naadam championship, striving to attain a higher ranking. The victor would earn lifelong respect as the strongest wrestler of the year. For us, sipping cold airag with its mild alcohol content of 2-3%, sitting in the shade, and watching these half-naked warriors grapple was an unforgettable experience in my early 20s.

Unexpected Joy: Naadam in the East

At 25, I experienced another significant moment when, while traveling to the East with friends, we stumbled upon a soum’s Naadam celebration. As we stood by the road, watching 3-year-old horse racing reach its climax, the atmosphere was electric with anticipation. As the first horses appeared on the horizon, jockeys sang and shouted, pushing their mounts to the finish line. Mostly the racing destination stretches around 22-25 kms depending on the age. Sweating horses, nervous trainers, and the excited crowd created an atmosphere of authentic pride and emotion. I couldn’t help but shed tears, moved by the powerful connection between the people and their horses. Since that day, horse racing has been the highlight of Naadam for me. Notably, I wasn’t the only one moved to tears; the entire audience was swept up in the emotional wave, and together, we shared in this profound connection with our beloved horses. The bond between Mongols and their horses is something indescribable, a connection that transcends words, rooted deep in our culture and history.

OTGO(Marketing Manager):

It’s that warm feeling of spending time with my family that makes Naadam extra special. Beyond the wrestling matches and tasty treats, it’s about those precious moments with the people who make it all worthwhile. So, grab a seat, let’s chat, and I’ll share why Naadam is like a big family hug under the Mongolian sun.

From City Chaos to Home Sweet Home: The Naadam Escape

My Naadam journey kicks off when I hit my hometown after a long trek. During Naadam, the six-day public holiday is granted which is for me a break from the city chaos! I’m from Erdenet, the second biggest city, like 400km away from Ulaanbaatar. Erdenet, my home base, revolves around this mining gig – Erdenet Mining Corporation, a big deal in Asia for copper and ore. It’s crazy how, during the festival, a place I’ve known forever suddenly feels brand new. Mom greets me with a smile, hands me a plate of sweet khuushuur, and pours some hot milk tea – home sweet home.

Over the years, as I got into university and moved to Ulaanbaatar (capital city), the family hangs got shorter. Now that I graduated and got employed, the frequency and length of visits are getting even shorter, but Naadam? It’s like a family reunion, a time to reconnect with where I’m from. And trust me, I’m not alone. So many youths like me, who switched from small towns to big cities, feel this craving for the chill and familiarity of this yearly bash.

Erdenet city during Naadam,2023 ( Photo courtesy of Эрдэнэт+)

The Deel’s Tale: A Garment of Memories

Then, there’s the deel, this traditional outfit waiting in the corner, ready to transform me back to the good old days. I’ve been wearing this for the past 5 years, so it means it holds a significant amount of my Naadam memories. When my mom bought me this, our household was having significant financial hardships. But she managed to gift me this deel that summer when I graduated high school and got accepted into the National University of Mongolia, the oldest and most prestigious higher educational institution. So, my deel means so much to me, I’ve been wearing it every Naadam or Tsagaan Sar for the past 5 years. Wearing it, we gather around the dinner table for a cozy family meal. The festival tunes from the TV spice up our talks and add an extra kick to the food. And so, as the Naadam Festival unfolds, each passing moment adds another layer to the vibrant canvas of memories that I carry with me.

Naadam’s Timeless Legacy: Navigating National Identity in a Fast-Paced World

 Naadam serves as a timeless bridge, connecting the past to the present, and the small town to the big city. It’s a testament to the resilience of tradition amid the dynamic changes in our lives. For a city kid like me, always caught up in the daily grind, these holidays are like reality checks. Our identity is a mix of jobs, studies, and lifestyle, sure. But where we come from is like our secret sauce. In a world where everyone’s doing their own thing, The Naadam Festival, with all its nature, becomes a symbol of how we’re sticking to our roots in this fast-paced world. It’s not just a celebration; it’s a nod to our past while forging ahead into the future. I can’t wait for this year’s and the upcoming many year’s festivities of Naadam.

Ready to immerse yourself in the heartbeat of Mongolian culture and witness the unifying spirit of our nation? Join us on a journey where culture comes alive, and every moment becomes a cherished memory. Book your Naadam tour now and be a part of the cultural tapestry that is Mongolia!

A Horse Song

Naadam festival of Mongolia


  • (976) 7000 9747
  • Live chat
  • FAQ








Dalai Tower, Suite 1205, UNESCO Street-31, Sukhbaatar District, 1st khoroo, Ulaanbaatar-14220, Mongolia

Facebook Instagram YouTube linkedin