Mongolia’s new snow and ice festival, in photos Mongolia’s new snow and ice festival, in photos

The first-ever Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival is taking place this January, and hopes to inspire more travellers to visit Mongolia during its beautiful winter season…
24 January 2024

You might not have thought of Mongolia as your go-to winter destination, but this under-the-radar country wants to change your mind.

Following in the footsteps of neighbouring China, Mongolia has launched its own winter-inspired event – Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival.

Taking place on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar from 14-28 January, Mongolia’s government hopes this new free festival will encourage visitors to explore and enjoy Mongolia’s spectacular landscapes year-round.

Cultural Minister Nomin Chinbat said: “Visitors will be captivated by our winter landscapes and the beauty of the sculptures on display, and I hope many more from around the world will be inspired to visit our country during the winter season.”

The two-week festival has already made news headlines, getting a Guinness World Record for 408 people descending a 16.4-metre-high ice slide – the most ever within an hour.

But the most captivating element of the festival are its striking ice sculptures: the highlight being a five-metre-tall Gobi bear (Mazaalai in Mongolian) alongside her cubs. The Gobi bear theme runs throughout the event, and aims to bring awareness to the country’s critically endangered animal.

There are 52 more Gobi bear statues on display, representing the few brown bears that remain roaming the Mongolian wild.

Earlier in the festival, 24 talented ice sculptors from six different countries took part in the memorising Mazaalai International Ice Competition, carving and chipping away to transform giant blocks of ice into frozen masterpieces – all following the festival’s Gobi bear theme.

See our gallery of the inaugural Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival below…

The 5-metre-high Gobi bear sculpture (Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival)
The ice-skating rink at dusk (Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival)
Carving away at the ice (Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival)
Creating ice sculptures is a true talent (Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival)

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