ICE FESTIVAL AT KHUVSGUL LAKEThe unique ice festival of the Blue Pearl
CELEBRATE ONSET OF SPRING WITH ICE FESTIVAL
In early March, travelers from across Mongolia head to the northernmost part of the country bordering Russia’s Siberia.
Braving the winter freeze—that sometimes falls below minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit—crowds gather on Lake Khövsgöl to celebrate the long, cold season. The largest freshwater lake in Mongolia, Khövsgöl belongs to the elite club of "ancient lakes" for having existed more than one million years (although some definitions vary). Frozen from November to May, Lake Khövsgöl becomes a glacial playground during the annual Khövsgöl Festival of Ice. For two days, a flurry of events covers the lake: horse sleigh races, ice sumo, archery competitions, bone-throwing games, ice sculpture contest, and more—all taking place in the frigid cold on thick, slippery ice. (Drive across the deepest lake in the world.) Festivalgoers don traditional costumes that represent Mongolia's 21 diverse regions, aimags. A fire-burning ceremony honors the strong, shamanic beliefs of the region, capping the festival's vibrant celebrations.