The Spectacular 2023 Golden Eagle Festival: A Celebration of Tradition and Nature
Every year, Mongolia’s Golden Eagle Festival dazzles spectators with its unique blend of tradition, nature, and breathtaking surprises. The 2023 edition of this renowned festival was no exception, leaving an indelible mark on all who were fortunate enough to attend.
A Majestic Setting
The choice of location played a pivotal role in elevating the festival experience. Nestled just 15 kilometers south of Ulgii city, the festival grounds offered a stunning backdrop of snow-covered mountains that added an awe-inspiring touch to the setting. The first day graced attendees with a pristine white landscape, blanketed in fresh snow, creating a picturesque scene. The second day brought unexpected clouds, which added another layer of charm, allowing us to witness the majestic eagles in these mesmerizing conditions.
A Grand Commencement
To captivate the senses of all in attendance, the festival commenced with a splendid concert by the Ulgii city orchestra. This grand spectacle featured a diverse array of musical performances, dances, and melodies that enraptured the hearts and souls of our guests.
Diversity and Surprises
One of the festival’s most remarkable aspects was the overwhelming response from participants. With 156 eagle hunters initially registered, expectations were exceeded when a total of 113 majestic eagles graced the festival. Notably, this included two remarkable female eagle hunters, showcasing the growing diversity in this ancient tradition. The age range of participants was equally astounding, spanning from the oldest registered eagle hunter at 82 years old to the youngest at a remarkable 13 years old.
The Thrilling Competition
The competition was fierce, beginning with the hunters placing their eagles atop a mountain and calling them to their arms. The eagles were judged based on their speed in landing on the hunter’s arm, with a new rule stipulating a 60-second limit for this feat. Only 20 eagles succeeded in landing within the given time frame, earning them the opportunity to participate in the second phase of the games, held on the following day. In this phase, the eagles had to land on a Shirga (animal skin) being dragged by the hunter in the shortest time possible.
The crowning moment of the festival was the announcement of this year’s champion, Aimeldir Dayanbek of Saga Village. Remarkably, she became the second female contestant to clinch the prestigious title, making history at the age of just 13 as the youngest participant ever. Aimeldir’s eagle demonstrated astonishing speed, landing on her arm in a mere 14.6 seconds on the first day and gracefully alighting on the Shirga in 20.8 seconds on the second day.
Akhilbek Baibolat of Sagsai village secured the second place, with his eagle displaying impressive agility, landing on his arm in just 25 seconds on both days. Additionally, he excelled in the Kukbar competition, securing the second place in the tug of war with a goat skin.
A Growing Spectacle
The Kukbar competition drew a remarkable 69 participants, doubling expectations and showcasing the festival’s growing popularity. In a unique addition to the festivities, the Kizquar game, a Kazakh dating ritual involving couples riding on horseback, featured 10 pairs, with one couple even hailing from the Netherlands. The Uriankhai archery competition spanned two days and captivated a large audience, adding another layer of excitement to the event.
A Resounding Success
In summary, the 2023 Golden Eagle Festival was a resounding success, marked by its spectacular location, diverse activities, and a record-breaking number of participants and visitors. With over 500 international attendees and more than 3,000 locals from Ulgii and across Mongolia, this year’s festival truly stood out as the most organized and captivating edition to date, celebrating the rich heritage of eagle hunting and uniting people from all corners of the world in its appreciation.
A Commitment to Conservation
Notably, the festival was organized by the Kazakh Falconry Association, our conservation partner for the eagle conservation project we launched with WSCC. This partnership underscores our commitment to preserving both tradition and nature.
As we reflect on this unforgettable event, we look ahead with excitement to the 2024 Golden Eagle Festival. Join us to experience the magic, tradition, and natural beauty of Mongolia. Your participation not only enriches your life with unique experiences but also supports the preservation of ancient traditions and the conservation of these magnificent birds.
Don’t miss the chance to be part of the 2024 Eagle Festival trips, featuring the iconic Golden Eagle Festival and the adventurous “In Search of Dragons and Eagles.” Join us to create your own unforgettable memories while supporting the preservation of ancient traditions and the conservation of magnificent birds. Book your journey today!