Golden Eagle Festival in Mongolia

The Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia is a fascinating annual event that takes place in the rugged and scenic Altai Mountains of western Mongolia. This festival is a unique celebration of the ancient art of eagle hunting and the Kazakh culture, bringing together eagle hunters from all over the region to showcase their incredible skills and their majestic golden eagles.

The Golden Eagle Festival: A Tradition of Hunting and Heritage

The Golden Eagle Festival is a spectacular event where eagle hunters compete in various events that highlight their eagle hunting skills. These eagle hunters, known as Kazakh eagle hunters, have been practicing the traditional art of eagle hunting for centuries.

Golden eagle festival
Kazakh people

The festival not only preserves this intangible cultural heritage but also allows visitors to witness the remarkable bond between the eagle hunters and their trained eagles.

The History and Significance of the Golden Eagle Festival

The Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia has deep roots in the history and traditions of the Kazakh people. Eagle hunting, or falconry, is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years, originally used for hunting and survival.

Grayscale Photo of Eagle Perching on the Man's Arm
Golden eagle

The Kazakh eagle hunters have preserved this tradition, passing down their knowledge and skills through generations.

The festival was established to celebrate and preserve this unique cultural heritage. It serves as a platform for eagle hunters to demonstrate their skills, share their traditions with a wider audience, and promote the cultural significance of eagle hunting.

The festival also helps to foster a sense of community among the Kazakh eagle hunters and their families.

The Highlights of the Eagle Festival

The Eagle Festival features numerous events, including an opening ceremony that marks the start of the festivities. During the eagle hunting competition, eagle hunters showcase their hunting skills as their golden eagles swoop down at incredible speeds to capture small animals and wild animals.

Hunter in Fur Coat Standing on Horse with Eagle on Hand
Kazakh man

The eagle hunter’s family often participates in these events, making it a family affair that highlights the cultural importance of eagle hunting.

One of the most exciting events is the eagle hunters compete to demonstrate the prowess of their eagles. These magnificent birds are trained to catch foxes and other small mammals, showcasing their sharp talons and hunting capabilities. The main festival also includes traditional horse racing and camel races, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

Man in Traditional Fur Clothes Holding Golden Eagle

The annual Golden Eagle Festival is not only a competition but also a celebration of Kazakh culture. Visitors can enjoy traditional music and dance performances, sample local cuisine, and learn about the history and customs of the Kazakh people.

The festival also features a variety of traditional games, such as horse games and archery, which are an integral part of the Kazakh tradition.

Experience the Festival Firsthand

For those interested in attending the annual Golden Eagle Festival, there are several tour operators offering Golden Eagle festival tours.

These tours often include a domestic flight to Ulgii town, the closest town to the festival site. Visitors can stay in tourist ger camps or town hotels and enjoy Western-style meals while experiencing the rich Kazakh culture.

Mongolian ger

The Golden Eagle Festival tour typically includes visits to the National Museum and opportunities to interact with the local community. Visitors can also enjoy a farewell dinner with traditional Kazakh hunters and their families, providing a deeper understanding of their way of life.

Beyond the Festival

While the Golden Eagle Festival is the main attraction, there are many other activities to enjoy in western Mongolia. The region is known for its stunning landscapes and intangible heritage. Exploring the Altai Mountains and learning about the ancient art of eagle hunting offers a unique cultural experience.

Altai Mountains under Cloudy Blue Sky

Nomadic Kazakhs continue to live in this region, maintaining their traditional way of life and cultural traditions. The festival is a testament to their resilience and dedication to preserving their heritage.

Planning Your Trip

When planning your trip to the Golden Eagle Festival, it’s important to book your Eagle Festival tour early as spots fill up quickly.

The eagle hunting season usually coincides with the festival, offering a unique opportunity to witness actual hunting and eagle training in action. Tour operators can help arrange package tours that include all necessary logistics, from local airlines to accommodations in several temporary ger restaurants.

The golden eagle festivals are not just about the competition; they are a celebration of the Kazakh tradition and the bond between eagle hunter and golden eagle. It’s a journey into a world where majestic birds and their trainers work in harmony, preserving a legacy that has been passed down through generations.

Activities and Attractions Around Ulgii Town

Ulgii town is the gateway to the golden eagle festival and offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors. The town itself is a blend of traditional and modern influences, with a vibrant market, several temporary ger restaurants, and historical sites.

Serious Mongolian hunters with eagles riding horses in highlands
  1. National Museum: A visit to the national museum in Ulgii town is a must. The museum houses exhibits on the history, culture, and traditions of the Kazakh people, including artifacts related to eagle hunting.
  2. Eagle Hunter’s Family Visits: Many tours offer the chance to visit an eagle hunter’s family. These visits provide an intimate look at the daily lives of the Kazakh eagle hunters and their trained eagles.
  3. Traditional Games and Sports: Besides the eagle hunting competition, visitors can watch or participate in traditional games like horse racing, archery, and camel races. These activities are an essential part of the Kazakh culture.
  4. Scenic Landscapes: The Altai Mountains and surrounding areas offer breathtaking landscapes perfect for photography, hiking, and exploration. The region is home to diverse wildlife and stunning natural beauty.
  5. Cultural Performances: Throughout the festival, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy traditional music and dance performances, which highlight the rich cultural heritage of the Kazakh people.

The Role of Women in Eagle Hunting

While eagle hunting has traditionally been a male-dominated practice, the role of women in this ancient art is gaining recognition.

Mongolian horsemen with eagles riding on altai mountain

Female eagle hunters, known as eagle huntresses, are increasingly participating in the golden eagle festivals. These eagle huntresses are breaking stereotypes and proving that they can master the skills required to train and hunt with golden eagles.

The inclusion of eagle huntresses in the festival is a significant step towards gender equality in the Kazakh culture. It also adds a new dimension to the festival, showcasing the versatility and adaptability of this ancient tradition.

The Future of the Golden Eagle Festival

The golden eagle festival is more than just an event; it is a crucial effort to preserve and promote the intangible cultural heritage of the Kazakh people. As modernity encroaches on traditional ways of life, festivals like this play a vital role in keeping ancient customs alive.

Efforts are being made to ensure the sustainability of the festival. This includes educating the younger generation about the importance of eagle hunting, providing support to eagle hunters, and promoting the festival to a global audience.


The Golden Eagle Festival Mongolia is an annual festival held in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia, celebrating the traditional art of eagle hunting practiced by the Kazakh eagle hunters.

You can attend the festival by booking a Golden Eagle festival tour through various tour operators. These tours include transportation, accommodation, and guided experiences of the festival and surrounding region.

At the festival, you will see eagle hunters and their golden eagles competing in various events, traditional horse racing, camel races, and cultural performances. You’ll also have the chance to interact with the local nomadic Kazakhs and learn about their way of life.

Most tours include a domestic flight from Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, to Ulgii town. From there, transportation is arranged to the festival site.

Yes, the eagle hunting season often coincides with the festival, and there are opportunities to witness actual hunting takes place as well as eagle training sessions.

At the festival, you will see eagle hunters and their golden eagles competing in various events, traditional horse racing, camel races, and cultural performances. You’ll also have the chance to interact with the local nomadic Kazakhs and learn about their way of life.

Visitors can stay in tourist ger camps, town hotels, or even with local nomadic families. These accommodations offer a range of experiences from modern comforts to traditional living.

The Golden Eagle Festival typically takes place in the first week of October each year. Here are the dates for the past several years:

  • 2023: October 7-8
  • 2022: October 1-2
  • 2021: October 2-3
  • 2020: October 3-4
  • 2019: October 5-6
  • 2018: October 6-7

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