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July festivals (part 2)

July festivals (part 2)

Today we’ll be looking at some more July festivals to look forward to, today being dedicated to the more remote ones.

ulaanbaatar-mongoliaUlaanbaatar – Mongolia

Yes you read that right, this is a festival that takes place in Mongolia, a destination meant for those more adventurous of holiday makers, but a fascinating one to say the least.

This is a festival celebrating ‘manly sports’ such as archery, wrestling, horse racing, all of which heavily imbued with bitter bowls of airag – Mongolia’s tipple of choice, fermented mares’ milk. One of the most quintessential Mongolian game is horse racing, as a tribute to the animals that were used by nomadic herders on the Steppe. In the race here up to a thousand horses take part, but interestingly enough, the jockeys are aged between five and thirteen.

When it comes to archery, music is an important part of it. The contestants sing to their arrows imploring them to travel straight; even the judges sing their commentary, so that’s interesting. The archers clad themselves in bring, traditional costumes and use their horn-and-bark bows with arrows made of willow branches fletched with vulture feathers.

We should mention that women can also compete in both these contests, but wrestling is one that is limited to men. In fact, the open-fronted jackets of the wrestlers’ costumes were designed so as to out female infiltrators, and were introduced after one such pretender toppled the men.

Palais el-Badi, Marrakesh – Morocco

Morocco may not be as remote as Mongolia but the Maghrebi culture is as foreign. This Popular Arts Festival with performers from across the entire country of Morocco coming together is the place to see snake-charmers and marketers trying to sell their wares to English tourists.

The entire Djemaa el-Fna square is filled with stalls and various stands offering you anything from freshly squeezed orange juice to fire-swallowers or fortune-tellers.

The main gathering spot for the performers from the various acting troupes to acrobats is the Palais el-Badi, a now-ruined palace reputed to have been one of the most beautiful in the world.

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