Naadam – Mongolia’s ancient summer festival.

Naadam is a centuries-old event. The Naadam festival is a celebrated yearly in Mongolia & it’s largest and most popular holiday. It’s important part of modern Mongolia’s identity and Naadam festival is a sophisticated & eloquent expression of nomadic culture, an honored celebration of national independence festival of sports, arts – singing, dancing.

Naadam holiday is served by eating huushuur and drinking airag with family while enjoying our 3 manly sports wrestling, long distance horse race with child jockeys and traditional archery.

Horse racing is the second-most popular sports event in Naadam festival, after wrestling. Unlike Western horse racing consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2km, Mongolian horse racing in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races ranging from 15 to 30 km long. The horses are ridden by 7 to 13 year old children.

Mongolian archery has a long and famous history. Archery has been practised among Mongolians for centuries and is one of the “three manly sports” of Mongolia’s Naadam festival.


Archery is one of the most famous sports in Mongolia. During the Naadam festival, archery starts ahead of other sports. The higher- ranked archers shoot first followed by the next ranks. The co-judging archers use gestures to indicate scores. If the co-judges raise their hands high turning the palms up and singing “Uukhai”it means the target was hit and the archer has scored.

There is 3 types of Mongolian archery which includes Khalkha archery, Uriankhai archery and Buriat archery.

Khalkha archery is the most commonly practiced variety. Khalkha archery shooting distance is the farthest. Woman archers loose 20 arrows at 60 meter target, while men loose 40 arrows at a 75 meter target.

Uriankhai archery is only practised by men. In this type, archers loose arrows at distances of 30 to 40 meters. Buriat archery is practised by Buriat, one of the ethnic minorities within Mongolia The shooting distance is 35-40 meter.


A total of 512 or 1024 wrestlers meet in a single - elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Wrestling competition begins after opening ceremony of Naadam festival and continue for two days until only the champion remains from over 500 wrestlers.

The competition becomes more interesting round by round. The wrestlers’ titles are named for birds of prey and strong animals, including the titles of Falcon, Elephant, Hawk, Garuda, Lion, and Champion. The wrestlers’ gestures imitating the animals’ movements are fan favorites as well. The followings are the state Naadam tittles prized in different rounds.

Horse racing:

Mongolian race horses are ridden by 7 to 13 year old girls and boys. The racing routes are straight requiring less navigation and more speed and endurance during the race. However, the long distance, weather and road conditions and other challenges require careful consideration for the jockeys’ safety. The race horses were ridden without saddles and child riders do not wear heavy clothing to be as light as possible. However, there is a new regulation; the jokey must be protected by accident insurance, protective gear such as helmets, vests, knee and elbow pads, and protective stirrups. Traditionally, children rode without saddles. But a new rule requires racing saddles for increased safety.

Horses competing in the races are trained for at least a month prior to the start of a festival. The horse races are held outside of Ulaanbaatar in the open fields. While waiting for horse race, the racing fields are bustling with interesting activity for travelers to enjoy, such as folk and horse shows, unique holiday meals, craft sales and others.

At the Ulaanbaatar Naadam, three and four-year-old horses race on 11 July. Stallions and full-grown horses race on 11 July. 5 and 2-year-old horses race on 12 July.