In the eagle festival, Kazakh eagle hunters celebrate their heritage and compete to catch small animals such as foxes and hares with specially trained golden eagles, showing off the skills both of the birds and their trainers. Prizes are awarded for speed, agility and accuracy, as well as for the best traditional Kazakh dress, and more.
The Eagle Festival is held during the first weekend in October, run by the Mongolian Eagle Hunter's Association. Dark, rocky mountainous terrain forms the backdrop to the festivities, which incorporate an opening ceremony, parade, cultural exhibitions, demonstrations and handcrafts in the centre of the town of Ölgii, followed by sporting activities and competitions 4 kilometres outside of town towards the mountains. Dressed in full eagle hunting regalia and mounted on groomed decorated horses, the entrants compete for the awards of Best Turned Out Eagle and Owner; Best Eagle at Hunting Prey and Best Eagle at Locating Its Owner from a Distance. Other sporting activities include horse racing, archery and the highly entertaining Bushkashi - goatskin tug of war on horseback.