The Eagle Hunting Festival
The Eagle Hunting Festival is one of Kyrgyzstan’s most interesting and typical events. It is held every year at the beginning of August in the Bokonbayevo village, on the south shore of Issyk Kul Lake.
During this festival, you’ll be able to observe many prey birds: eagles, golden eagles, vultures and falcons. These predatory birds, with their sharp claws and delicate beaks, are excellent hunters, and also they are wild, the Kyrgyz nomads were able to tame and train them.
This ancient hunting tradition takes its origins from the high valleys of Central Asia, in Kyrgyzstan, where it was used by the first warriors and hunters. Other countries in the region than adopted this tradition, which was even spread to far-away countries like France, where it was very popular in the Middle Ages.
In Kyrgyzstan, prey birds have always been very important. The eagle, which represents the soul of the great hero Manas, was able to feed entire villages, killing animals much larger such as deer or Marco Polo. Nowadays, eagle hunting has become local folklore and is more of a hobby sport and a touristic attraction than a real practice.
At the Eagle Hunting Festival, you’ll be able to witness demonstrations of hunting on rabbits or foxes. Traditional Kyrgyz games that involve birds, such as the Arkan, the Tartmay, the Zholuk and the Tastamay, also take place. This, and the many cultural activities and shows, is a wonderful way to get familiar with Kyrgyz culture and traditions. And on top of that, you’ll be able to participate in many different contests and try to win interesting prizes.