Welcome to the enthralling world of the Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival – a testament to Mongolia's determination to redefine winter tourism. From January 14 to January 28, the Sky Resort, nestled on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, transforms into a winter wonderland that beckons travelers seeking an authentic Mongolian winter experience.
A Majestic Winter Tapestry
Embracing the Chills
While Mongolia is often synonymous with summer allure, the Mazaalai Festival opens a portal to a winter dreamscape. The festival encapsulates the essence of Mongolia's winter landscapes, captivating visitors with its frozen beauty. The event's significance is underlined by Mongolia Culture Minister Nomin Chinbat, who hails it as a pivotal milestone in the country's winter tourism sector.
Guinness World Record Triumph
Within days of its inception, the festival etched its name in history by achieving a Guinness World Record. A staggering 408 attendees descended an impressive 16.4-meter-long ice slide in one hour, setting a new standard for winter festivities.
Artistry in Ice: Sculptures and Competitions
Gobi Bear Conservation
One of the festival's highlights is a five-meter-high snow and ice sculpture featuring the iconic Gobi bear (Mazaalai in Mongolian) and her cubs. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, this sculpture serves a noble cause – raising awareness about the critically endangered Gobi bear. Additionally, 52 ice Mazaalai statues stand tall, symbolizing the 52 Gobi bears fighting for survival in the wild.
Mazaalai International Ice Competition
On January 17, the festival hosted the Mazaalai International Ice Competition, drawing talent from 24 artists across six countries. China, Thailand, France, Russia, the US, and Mongolia showcased their prowess, transforming blocks of ice into breathtaking sculptures that added a global flair to the festival.
Unveiling the Frozen Extravaganza
The Grand Ice and Snow Sculpture
A monumental 56.4-meter-long snow and ice sculpture takes center stage, accompanied by a sprawling ice skating rink. This grandeur is a visual spectacle, providing visitors with an immersive experience amidst the winter charm.
Unique Challenges of Winter Visits
Undoubtedly, winter in Mongolia poses challenges, with Ulaanbaatar earning its reputation as one of the world's coldest cities. Yet, there's an allure in embracing the extreme cold – a chance to witness dramatic snow-covered landscapes and partake in unique winter events like the annual Khuvsgul Lake Ice Festival in early March.
Government's Vision: One Million Tourists
Winter Tourism Goals
Culture Minister Nomin Chinbat envisions the Mazaalai Festival as a pivotal element in the government's ambitious goal of welcoming one million international tourists annually to Mongolia. In 2019, Mongolia received 637,000 international travelers, and despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the country is steadfast in its commitment.
To achieve this tourism milestone, Mongolia has taken strategic measures, including expanding its list of visa-free countries until the end of 2025. Furthermore, talks are underway to launch direct flights between Mongolia and the United States, signaling a proactive approach to bolster international tourism.
In the heart of winter, Mongolia's Mazaalai International Snow and Ice Festival emerges as a beacon of beauty, artistry, and conservation. Beyond the icy landscapes, it signifies Mongolia's unwavering commitment to redefine its winter narrative and open its doors to the world. As you explore the festival's enchanting offerings, you embark on a journey through a winter dreamscape that beckons adventurers and culture enthusiasts alike.
Explore the festival, embrace the cold, and become a part of Mongolia's winter renaissance!