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Cultural Festivals

Bayan-Olgii has a busy calendar of cultural events throughout the year. The Golden Eagle Festival in early October is listed by Lonely Planet quite unfairly as only the 2nd best event in Mongolia behind the National Naadam. Naadam lacks displays by trained golden eagles and wrestling is a poor substitute for fighting over a goat carcass on horseback (kokpar). The smaller Altai Kazakh Eagle Festival is held in late September is equally entertaining. You can see the Kazakh horse games at two more festivals in March and July, though without eagle hunters (they only hunt in winter). No celebration in Bayan-Olgii would be complete without a Kazakh traditional music concert. Also, several small Naadams and a large Aimag Naadam are held during the summer.


The Kazakhs of Mongolia are famous throughout Central Asia and increasingly further abroad for their beautiful, vibrant hand-embroidered designs. Kazakh gers are covered in the stunningly colorful wall hangings, carpets, and ribbons, creating a psychedelic world inside the felt tents, which Kazakhs consider to be the center of the universe. The curving designs patterned after goat horns symbolize the wealth of herders. The richness of Mongolian Kazakh designs make them a popular export to their traditional homeland in Kazakhstan, where the old production method has fallen out of favor. Kazakh products made in Olgii can be found in many shops in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and Almaty and Astana, Kazakhstan. However the best prices and selection can be found in the workshops and stores of Olgii. The hectic bazaar with its fresh halal meat, produce, clothing, and vast variety of Chinese, Russian, and local goods is worth experiencing even if you have nothing to buy. For higher end shopping, the several cashmere shops sell Mongolian cashmere (the best in the world), camel hair, and furs that rivals anything sold in Europe.

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