5th World Nomad Games to be Hosted in Astana: Reviving Nomadic Culture

Photo: Kokpar, a unique sport among nomads. Provided by the Embassy of Kazakhstan.

By Howard  Jungchan Lee, Korea Travel News

Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is gearing up to host the 5th World Nomad Games from September 8th to 13th, spotlighting and reviving the rich cultural traditions of nomadic peoples. This edition of the Games is anticipated to serve as a significant event showcasing the resilience and creativity inherent in nomadic cultures worldwide.

Since its debut in 2014, the World Nomad Games has evolved into a major international event, drawing over 2,500 participants from nearly 100 countries. This year’s edition expects to attract more than 100,000 visitors, both domestic and international, to Astana. It will feature a diverse array of programs offering opportunities to experience ancient nomadic sports and cultural traditions firsthand.

Rediscovering Kokpar and Traditional Sports

One of the highlight events of the Games is Kokpar, where teams on horseback compete to secure a goat carcass. This sport, akin to polo but with distinct nomadic variations, promises dynamic and thrilling spectacles. Additionally, the Games will showcase 21 different sports, including horse riding, traditional intellectual games, martial arts competitions, and ethnic bird hunting. These events, steeped in nomadic heritage, are sure to provide unforgettable experiences for spectators.

Photo: Traditional Kazakh cuisine, Beshbarmak. Provided by the Embassy of Kazakhstan

Celebrating Culture and Tradition at Ethnoaul

At “Ethnoaul,” daily cultural events will unfold, offering visitors the chance to admire works by craftsmen at Kazakhstan’s largest handicrafts fair and learn their techniques in master classes. The traditional music competition known as “Aitys” will captivate audiences with poetic duels among renowned Akyns (Kazakh traditional poets and singers). A highlight will be the ethnic fashion festival featuring runways adorned with traditional costumes, along with a national cuisine festival where visitors can savor authentic Kazakh dishes and beverages. This venue promises a unique blend of past and present cultural experiences.

A Platform for International Friendship and Exchange

Beyond being a sports competition, this year’s Games are seen as a pivotal opportunity for cultural exchange and fostering international friendships. During President Yoon Suk-yeol’s state visit to Kazakhstan, the emphasis was on enhancing cultural, tourism, and youth exchanges. President Tokayev underscored the importance of strengthening personal relationships based on genuine friendship between the two nations.

Kazakhstan, where horses were first domesticated approximately 5,500 years ago, reveres horses as one of its seven sacred treasures. The enduring bond between nomads and horses will vividly come to life through the equestrian events at this year’s Games, highlighting the profound cultural significance of horses in Kazakh society.

Photo: The 5th World Nomad Games will feature 21 sports. Provided by the Embassy of Kazakhstan.

A Festival of Culture and History: The World Nomad Games

The World Nomad Games provide a global platform for learning about and celebrating the culture and history of nomadic peoples. There is considerable anticipation surrounding this event for its role in preserving and promoting the rich cultural heritage of Central Asia. The Games in Astana are poised to deliver an unforgettable experience, combining the richness of cultural heritage with the excitement of competitive sports.

In September, Astana will transform into a vibrant stage celebrating history, culture, and sports, honoring the shared heritage of humanity. Kazakhstan eagerly awaits visitors from around the world to immerse themselves in the spirit of nomadic culture in Astana. This event transcends mere competition; it represents a precious opportunity for the global community to rediscover and appreciate the beauty and significance of nomadic cultures together.

For more information and details on participating in the 5th World Nomad Games, please visit the official website. Participation applications and inquiries can be directed to the Kazakhstan Tourism Board.