The Naadam festival in Mongolia is a yearly event celebrated in July. This is one great event that every single person in Mongolia looks forward to and definitely one big tourist attraction in the country.
I was able to witness this event two years ago along with hundreds of tourists and travelers. Many tour operators in Ulaanbaatar sell packaged tour of the said festival. We bought a two-day package which includes a guided tour to the Stadium to watch the opening ceremony, wrestling and archery matches, lunch for 2 days, horse racing (2nd day) and transportation. On the opening day the plan was to walk to the stadium from the Sukhbaatar square but I really didn’t want to walk, walking is one thing that I’m not fond of. Fortunately, there was one tourist who arrived at the assembly place about 30 minutes late, so our tour guide decided to take a taxi to the stadium and that was a big relief. We had an english speaking guide and she was really nice and friendly. We even had a little conversation and I learned that she was a post graduate student and been to New York and South Korea to study. I also learned that a lot of students in Mongolia, the ones who can speak the english language properly [if not fluently] do tour guiding job during summer breaks.This is also their way of practicing and learning the language.
The opening day’s events include the colorful opening ceremony, speech by the president and of course we didnt have a slightest clue what he was saying, wrestling and archery matches. I was really surprised to see how Mongolians dressed up for the event. A lot of women were in evening dress and high heels while the older ones were wearing the traditional Mongolian costume and the crowd was in a very festive mood.
After the opening ceremony, we headed to another stadium to witness the archery match. It was a smaller stadium and getting in was a great deal of effort as there were too many people all wanting to see the match. I must admit I didn’t enjoy it that much. Well, as the saying goes, when in Rome. I took a few photos and after about 15 minutes we decided to leave and headed to the park where our packed lunch would be served. I caught a really interesting sight inside the stadium, while everyone was busy watching archery, and couldn’t resist capturing it.