Mongolian winters are long and difficult so to fill the short days people enjoy a number of big festivals.
Tsaagan Sar, the festival of the white moon, is held at the beginning of the new lunar year. The traditional Mongolian Tsaagan Sar celebration involves 3-5 days of eating and drinking with family with rituals to greet the sunrise on the first day of the new year and often a visit to a Buddhist Monk to receive blessings. It is an intense family celebration with a lot of religious ritual and practice that may seem impenetrable to most visitors but fortunately there are also many celebrations put together specifically for non-Mongolians with all of the ritual, food and fun but not so much of the chanting and religious dedication
To take advantage of the immense cold in the north of Mongolia each year the people of Khuvsgul organise an ice festival, held on the frozen lake surface! For 3 days during March the population of the small town Khatgal will swell as visitors outnumber locals. Events include an ice sculpting competition, archery, horse racing and sled racing as well as many others across the 3 days. You can travel there by public transport, private car or hire a driver for the duration and stay in local winter houses on the frozen lakeshore.
1000 Camel Festival
The description is in the name! This is a festival of up to and including 1,000 camels held in the Gobi desert in mid march each year. There will be camel racing, camel polo and a camel beauty contest in the small desert town of Bulgan in Umnugovi.
Golden Eagle Festival
The traditional Golden Eagle Festival is held in the 1st weekend of October each year but there is another held just outside Ulaanbaatar at Chinggisiin Khuree Ger Camp. The festivsl is organised by the same people that organise the autumn event and features all of the same events but with the supremely beautiful snowy backdrop that is missing from the Bayan Ulgiiy event. Aisholpan, the young woman who trains eagles with her father and has starred in several Hollywood Blockbusters attends each year and is usually available for photographic opportunities. You can reach the festival by private car or hire a driver for the days that it is being held and stay in the city.