Mongolia is known for being a land of horses and the finest horsemen on earth. The country has more than 3 million domestic horses across the vast steppes, and several hundred Takhi, wild horses in wilderness. The Mongols take pride in their amazing horse culture that they have been honing for milleniums, and even there’s this saying “a Mongol learns to ride a horse before he starts walking” among the nomads. There are countless number of legends (including the two white horses of Chinggis Khan), stories, songs and poems about the remarkable Mongolian horses (you perhaps already heard about Mongolian horses being one of the main reasons of the successful Mongol raids in Eurasia back in the 13th century, but did you know that Mongolian horses took part in WWII? They traveled as far as Berlin with the Soviet soldiers!) too.
The wonderful “Steppe Horses Winter Festival” is to be held for its’ third time in a couple of weeks, just before the Mongolian Lunar New Year. This year, the festival is taking place in Altanbulag soum of Tuv province, which locates very close to Ulaanbaatar, and thus, provides a brilliant opportunity to witness the event. You may have seen great photos of Mongolian horsemen in snow from the previous festivals, and this beautiful stallion picture taken during the festival (courtesy of Mongolian photographer Batzaya Ch) was named among the best animal photos of 2016. You will see everything by your own eyes!
Dates of 2017 Steppe Horses Winter festival: 17-19 February.
Location: Altanbulag soum, Tuv Province.
Brief program of the festival.
Friday, 17 February.
17:00 Meet at the Sukhbaatar Square and take the shuttle bus to Altanbulag village
20:00 Musical performance by the people of Altanbulag, followed by public dance
Saturday, 18 February.
10:00 Transfer to the festival venue
10:30 Competition among horsemen: lassoing and catching horses with uurga (Mongolian horse catching poles)
11:30 Competition among horsemen: breaking in horses (taming)
12:00 Lunch break (hot food and drinks will be sold by the locals)
14:00 Opening ceremony of the Steppe Horses winter festival (parade of horsemen; contest of beautifully dressed rider couples etc)
15:00 Performance of horsemen: Khutulguu
15:30 “Horse catching with lassoes and uurga” continues
16:00 Stallions are prepared for photography opportunities
20:00 “Horse themed” song contest among the locals, followed by public dance
Sunday, 19 February.
10:00 Horse racing competition (short range)
11:00 Parade of hunters with hunter dogs
11:30 Competition of hunter dogs with prey
14:00 Depart to Ulaanbaatar by shuttle bus service. End of the event.
The festival package tour includes the following services: shared accommodation, 6 meals, shuttle bus service from/to Ulaanbaatar, musical performance of the locals, museum visit. The package price is 120000 MNT/per visitor, and contributes greatly to the local community. If you just want to see the festival without food & accommodation, ticket costs 20000 MNT.
Hot food and beverages, souvenirs, winter & sports clothing trades will be available for spectators & participants during the festival. And everyone can take part in horse riding, traditional costume photo opportunities etc at small charges that will directly go to the local communities.
This winter festival is initiated and organised by “Munkh Khariltsaa” NGO and is dedicated to developing winter tourism in Mongolia, raising awareness on sustainable tourism and supporting the livelihoods of the local nomads.
For more information about this exciting winter festival, please visit their Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/1367005776702976/
Contact person: Mr. Tserenbat
Contact number: 976-9908-9730, (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Images are provided by the festival organisers.
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