The official Golden Eagle Festival is arranged during the first week of October every year in the most western - and most remote province of Mongolia, Bayan-Ulgii. This province is home to ethnic Kazakh nomads who train Golden Eagles for hunting. The Eagle Festival is one of the best opportunities to catch a glimpse into the area’s unique culture, which is different to other parts of Mongolia.
Since 2008 the festival is being organized in the outskirt of capital city-Ulaanbaatar. In 2018 it is going to be held at Jargalant Valley by the Bogd Khaan Mountain range, the strictly protected area. More than 20 eagle hunters all over Bayan-Ulgii province will be selected and brought to the city to attend the festival during the period of March 4-5, 2018. For two days, Kazakhs compete to show off whose eagle is the most skilled at catching prey and following the command of their owners.
The festival begins with a parade of hunters holding their eagles marching with their horses. The competition of best traditional costume and equipment is held followed by games to test best communication techniques between the eagle and the hunter. The other main competition involves the fastest and most attractive descent of an eagle from top of the mountain to the owner on the valley floor. Other authentic games are enjoyed by the Kazakhs such as kukbar (tug of war on horseback), archery and horse racing. Hunters put on their best costumes while decorating their eagles with the traditional “eagle costumes”.
The first Golden Eagle Festival was held in the fall of 2000. The chief idea was to promote this ancient art of hunting with eagles among younger generations of the Kazakhs so that the tradition would be kept alive to the future generations. Over the years, it has become one of the most popular events in Mongolia drawing attention of both the locals and the foreign travelers. Many documentaries have been made.
In order to support activities of the festival and to make it more rich, the organizers have kept adding more events over the years such as a local bazaar featuring art works, traditional tools used for training eagles and hunting equipment as well as horse racing. Archery contest by a local Uriankhai tribe has been added most recently.
The Association has initiated and accomplished registration of the Eagle hunting with Convention for the safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage under UNESCO in November of 2010.
Organizers: Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ulaanbaatar City Tourism Department, Ulaanbaatar Tourism Association, Mongolian Eagle hunters Association