Vibrant Festivals of Bhutan That You Should Definitely Attend

Fairs & Festivals

The Kingdom of Thunder Dragon, with its rich culture and spirituality, celebrates numerous festivals with great vigour and fervours. The best way to experience Bhutan’s rich culture is by being a part of its celebrations. Although not all festivals of Bhutan are celebrated with the same zeal, each festival is equally enthralling. Every month, at least one festival is celebrated in this country so make sure you coordinate your travel dates with these interesting festivals!

Here is the list of 29 Vibrant Festivals of Bhutan That You Should Definitely Attend

1. Paro Tshechu

The Paro Tshechu Festival is Bhutan’s Spring festival and is one of the largest festivals celebrated in the country. During this festival, monks and laymen celebrate together and locals come dressed up in vibrant attires and also masks, which represent demons and gods. Several cultural functions are held during this festival, like the mask dance performance by locals, which takes place inside the courtyard of the Dzong. Mask dance is usually performed during the first day of the festival, and on subsequent days, other functions are held outside the Dzong. This festival is celebrated in the month of March and one main attraction of Paro Tshechu is the display a 350 years religious scroll, which attracts a lot of crowds.

Date: March 17- March 21, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:

  • Experience meditation taught by the monk
  • Enjoy traditional dance and music

2. Thimpu Tshechu

One of the most popular festivals in Bhutan, Thimphu Tshechu brings together thousands of locals, all decked up in fine colourful dresses, who flock to the Tahichhodzong Fortress courtyard to be a part of all the lively festivities. This iconic festival includes masked dancers in vibrant attires who engage in dance performances, and plays and other fun activities as well. The festival has been in the Bhutanese culture since the 19th century and is usually celebrated during the months of September or October.

Date: October 7- October 9, 2019
Where: Tashi Chhodzong, Thimphu, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival: Masked dance performance Watching Buddhist rituals

3. Nomad Festival

The annual Nomad Festival, held in Bumthang sees the real nomadic tribe of Bhutan coming together from different parts of Bhutan. It is dominated by the nomads, mainly originating from the North-Western and North-Eastern Himalayan regions. During this festival, you can witness unforgettable shows where these Bhutanese nomads put on the traditional performances. Their culture, traditions, and way of living are clearly depicted during this festival and the vibrant outfits, joyous environment, all in the backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of Bumthang surely makes the experience a worthwhile one.

Date: February 23, 2020
Top Attractions of the festival:
Witness the grand pageantry of Chipdrel
Try Yak riding
Try delicious homemade Bhutanese cuisines

4. Mountain Echoes

The Mountain Echoes festival, held in Thimphu, Bhutan witnessed the patronage of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. This festival is an amalgamation of different art forms, including visual arts, literature, music, photography, theatre, film, and dance. It is a great platform for cultural exchange with speakers from different parts of the world like the United States, Australia, France, Switzerland, Bangladesh and Nepal, apart from India.

Date: August 24-August 25, 2020
Top Attractions of the festival:
Be a part of this famous cultural exchange program.
Get to meet famous cultural ambassadors from different countries and listen to their speeches.

5. Jambay Lhakhang Drup

Masks are an integral part of most Bhutanese festivals, and the same goes for this festival as well. Jambay Lhakhang Drup festival includes naked mask dancing, fire dancing and a lot more. One very popular event during this festival is the iconic Fire Ceremony, Mewang, where the locals dance under a flaming structure made of dry grass. Other than this, the Dance of Treasure is another famous event of the festival, where the masked dancers perform a unique dance at the middle of the night being completely naked. This dance is performed to bless infertile women to be able to bear children.

Date: November 13- November 16, 2019
Where: Jambay Lhakhang, Bumthang, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:

  • Enjoy local blessing ceremony where masked dancers perform being completely naked
  • Experience other cultural programmes like fire dancing.

6. Gasa Tshechu

Gasa Tshechu, a multi-day festival in Bhutan, is a famous cultural festival having a special spiritual significance. During the festival, the masked dances are performed by the monks, which is said to have a deep meaning. Gasa Tshechu is the largest festival of Northern Bhutan and is celebrated with great vigour by the entire community. Different varieties of traditional dance performances and music performances are performed. These unique cultural performances cannot be witnessed in any other part of the world, and thus, this festival attracts large crowds.

Date: April 1- April 3, 2020
Where: Gasa Dzong, Paro
Top Attractions of the festival:
Monks put up dance performances wearing wooden masks
This festival takes place is Gasa Dzong, a beautiful part of Bhutan, so you can also enjoy its beauty.

7. Jomolhari Mountain Festival

Jhomolhari mountain trekking festival is a two-day festival celebrated at the base of Mt. Jomolhari, by local groups situated amongst the grandest trekking courses in Bhutan. The celebration commends the way of life led by the groups living in the wild. The Jomolhari trek is one of the most popular trekking courses in Bhutan. The Jomolhari festival celebrates the culture of the communities living together with the natural wonders surrounding them; one of them being the snow leopard! This endangered cat family member thrives in the region; several camera trap photos have established this region as one of the best habitats for snow leopards in Bhutan.

Date: October 14, 2019
Where: Dangochong, Thimphu, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy the snow leopard show
Groove along with the locals on local traditional songs

8. Haa Summer Festival

Celebrated in the valley of HAA, this summer festival is a celebration of Bhutanese culture, their ways of life, unique cuisines, religious beliefs and traditional sports as well. It provides an insight into the peaceful lives of the people of Bhutan and the age-old traditions of Bhutan’s nomadic herders. Numerous events like local games are conducted during this festival and tourists are welcome to take part in local sports like yak riding and also dancing, among other activities. A grand feast is organised during this festival and you can get to taste the best authentic Bhutanese cuisines during this festival. Tourists can also experience a one night stay at one of the many huts in the village among the hospitality of the local Bhutanese people of the Haa Valley.

Date: July 13- July 14, 2019
Where: Haa, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:

  • Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the valley
  • Take part in numerous events organised during the festival
  • Enjoy authentic local cuisines
  • Experience the local ways of life by spending a night in the village huts

9. Ura Yakchoe

Ura Yakchoe is an extraordinary dance performance in the Ura Valley of Bumthang in Bhutan. In this festival, sacred dance is performed by the natives of the valley along with other popular folk dances including mask dances. A holy relic is also put on display for everyone to seek blessings. History has it that a lama once visited a local woman in her house and asked for a glass of water.

She went to fetch water but later found that the lama had gone leaving behind a sacred relic. It is this holy relic which is worshipped, and in front of this relic, the Ura Yakchoe dance is performed. This is one of the religious festivals of Bhutan and devotees from various parts of Bhutan visit the place to worship the relic.

Date: May 4- May 8, 2020
Top Attractions of the festival:
Get a chance to worship the sacred religious relic and seek blessings
Witness the famous Ura Yakchoe dance performance

10. Punakha Drubchen

The Bhutanese festival of Punakha Drubchen celebrates the country’s victory over the neighbouring country of Tibet by re-enacting the 17th Century battle scenes. Back in those days, since there was no formal army, locals unified and fought against the Tibetan forces. To celebrate this unification of the locals, during this festival, local militiamen dress up as the two parties and re-enact the war scenes. The Punakha Drubchen festival is celebrated with great pride but is an intimate Bhutanese affair so tourists are usually not allowed to be a part of this festival.

Date: February 15-February 17, 2019
Where: Punakha Dzong, Punakha
Top Attractions of the festival:

  • Enjoy traditional buddhist rituals
  • Know about Bhutanese history

11. Chorten Kora Festival

The Chorten Kora Festival, popularly known as ‘Dakpa Kora’, is dedicated to a young girl from Tawang, who is believed to have agreed to be buried alive inside the Chorten. Hundreds of people from Arunachal Pradesh, known as ‘Dakpas’ make a pilgrimage to Chorten Kora, which is held on the 15th day of the first lunar month Bhutanese pilgrims then follow with their circumambulation, held on the 30th day corresponding to 15th March every year.

Date: March 31- April 16, 2020

12. Trongsa Tshechu

The Trongsa Tshechu Festival in Bhutan is held every year for five days between the 8th and the 12th of the eleven lunar months in the northern courtyard of the temple during December or January. The first day of the festival is usually the rehearsal day for all the cultural programmes like the mask dances, folk dance and other religious music played by the Bhutanese musicians. The second day of the festival hosts a series of programmes for the entertainment of the locals as well as tourists. It is believed that this drives away the evil spirits and blesses the people who attend the festival.

Date: Dates vary every year
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy various traditional cultural programmes.

13. Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu

Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu festival is famous for being celebrated since the 17th century. Local songs and ornamental speeches called Lozeys are integral parts of this festival. Tourists planning to visit Bhutan during this festival just to enjoy the most celebrated event of this festival or the Dance of Ox. This ox dance is said to ensure a blissful afterlife for those who witness it. A large group of people assembles to witness the beautiful act which concludes with the display of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol and every onlooker can fetch blessings and wash their sins away.

Date: October 5-October 7,2019
Where: Wangdi Dzong, Wangdue Phrodrang, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:
Raksa Mangcham, the famous dance of the Ox
Try out local authentic cuisines and experience Bhutanese culture

14. Sakteng Festival

The Sakteng Tshechu Festival, held for three days every year at Sakteng Lhakhang, is all about religion and religious beliefs. The Sakteng Tshechu is celebrated in the Sakteng valley located in the eastern part of Bhutan, where all the semi-nomadic people called ‘Brokpas’ are based in. Like all festivals celebrated in Bhutan, during this festival also, the entire community comes together to celebrate and engage in worshipping the gods. The festival is a colourful and lively one, and the locals are all dressed in their traditional finery. You can also attend numerous dance performances during this festival and visitors are often served with Ara, which is a local wine.

Date: June 12-June 16, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy local celebrations with the Bhutanese locals get a taste of Ara, a local wine
Engage in religious worshipping

Witness the unspoiled beauty of Sakteng Valley
Yak and ache Lhamo dance are performed during this festival.

15. Matsutake Festival

If you are an ardent foodie, then this festival is just perfect for you. Matsutake Festival is basically a two-day mushroom festival held in Bhutan, which attracts many tourists to this region. During this festival, numerous rare types of mushrooms, available only in Bhutan are displayed and you can also taste them! Locals and tourists trek through the wild to gather these rare mushrooms. Locals allow tourists to stay in their homes and teach them their traditional family recipes.

Date: August 23- August 24, 2019
Where: Ura, Bumthang Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:
Taste rare species of mushrooms in authentic Bhutanese ways
Learn about Bhutanese recipes from localities.

16. Gomphu Kora Festival

Gomphu Kora, a three day religious festival in Bhutan is popular not just for the local tribes but also popular for the Dakpa tribe from the Arunachal Pradesh. ‘Gomphu’ literally means a meditation cave. According to the Bhutanese people, the name ‘Gomphu’, originated from a cave which was made out of rock face. A temple was also built in the exact location to pay tribute to this cave. The festival of Gomphu Kora comprises of numerous local customs and age-old rituals. According to a popular belief here, one should go to the cave today or tomorrow might be too late. Locals consider it to be a symbol of victory of the good over the evil. The cave seems to come alive during the festival and the blessing during this festival is considered to be highly auspicious. It is due to this belief, that thousands of devotees come to visit during the festival of Gomphu Kora.

Date: March 14- March 16, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Get an opportunity to taste the immortal water, which comes from the cave, and happens only during the festival and is considered to be greatly auspicious.
Go to the cave during night time, to experience some unique Bhutanese traditions.

17. Merak Tshechu

The Merak Tshechu Festival is celebrated at Merak Lhakhang in Bhutan, for three days and is a much-needed break for the Brokpas from their monotonous life. Traditional dances, plays, music and much more are performed by the locals in traditional attires here to celebrate the occasion. A famous Bhutanese dance performance Ache Lhamo is also performed during this festival. It is a unique event and many visitors and travellers from around the world visit Bhutan during the festival to enjoy the uniqueness of the festival.

Date: August 2-August 3, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy traditional cultural events along with the locals
Witness the famous Yak Dance Performance

18. Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival

This unique festival performed, by the Royal Bhutan Army instead of monks is a tribute to the leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King of Bhutan. This festival is celebrated to appreciate and commend the efforts and hard work of The Bhutanese Royal Army, in protecting the country. The Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival is one of the most unique festivals of Bhutan, hosted against the backdrop of the magnificent Jigme Singye Wangchuck mountain range and is an absolute delight to be a part of.

Date: December 13, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Witness the greatness of Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Temple.
Enjoy different types of traditional dances including warrior dance.

19. The Annual Black Necked Crane Festival

The Annual Black-necked Crane Festival is a famous festival celebrated in the valley of Phobjikha, Bhutan. It is celebrated with a special purpose of passing a message to the human race, and the special motive is to conserve and protect the endangered species of black-necked cranes. In this unique festival, the locals rejoice the arrival of these majestic birds in their lives during the months of winter. The Annual Black-Necked Crane festival hosts several cultural programs including traditional music and dance performances and dramas based on this purpose as well. The drama is usually staged by school children to create awareness among the masses.

Date: November 11, 2019
Where: Gangtey Goenpa, Phobjikha, Wangdue Phodrang, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy unique crane dance
Be a part of the special purpose of environmental conservation

20. Zhemgang Festival

Zhemgang Festival is one of Bhutan’s most prominent annual festivals, held in the remotest district of Bhutan, Zhemgang. The locals gather in this district to celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche, an ancient Buddhist Master and also offer prayers to the other deities. The main attraction of this festival is the famous mask dance, performed by the Buddhist monks, which has a special religious significance. Locals believe that by performing this dance, they fight off the evils and good luck is bestowed upon those who witness this dance.

Date: April 1- April 3, 2020
Where: Zhemgang Dzong, Zhemgang
Top Attractions of the festival:
Witness the famous mask dance performed by Buddhist monks
Other than enjoying the religious festivities, tourists can even explore the beauty of Zhemgang, which is quite rich in biodiversity.
Witness the unfurling of Silk Thangka.

21. Tsirang Tshechu

Tsirang Tshechu is one of the biggest festivals of Bhutan, held in the southern town of Tsirang. This Festival attracts large groups of people from all parts of Bhutan. It has gained popularity for the different kinds of mask dances performed by monks and locals. Traditional dances and music performances also add to the festive mood in this part of Bhutan. A life-sized tapestry of Guru Rimpoche is also unfurled on the last day of this festival.

Date: March 24-March 26
Top Attractions of the festival:
Enjoy different types of mask dances performed by locals.

22. Lhuntse Tshechu

Lhuentse Tshechu Festival goes on for five days at the courtyard of Lhuentse Dzong and is a religious festival which comprises of various masked dance performances and various other cultural programs as well. Thousands of devotees from all over Bhutan congregate at the courtyard to witness the cultural festivities, all dressed up in their finest attire. To celebrate this auspicious day, a mouth-watering array of authentic Bhutanese cuisines is displayed in various stalls.

Date: Usually celebrated in the month of November

23. Kurjey Festival

Kurjey Tshechu Festival is quite a famous festival, celebrated in the Kurjey temple in Chokhor valley of Bumthang district in Bhutan. There is a historical significance attached to the Kurjey temple and also the festival. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche meditated in this temple for the suppression of evil spirits roaming around in the region. The Kurjey festival now is one of the most important religious occasions for the locals. It is a social gathering to celebrate the victory of good over evil. The Kurjey Festival rightly depicts the golden traditions of Bhutan and its rich cultural heritage.

Date: June 30, 2020
Where: Kurjey Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang
Top Attractions of the festival:
Witness Guru Tshengye and Shinjay cham performed by the monks of Kurjey Lhakhang.
Learn about Bhutanese beliefs and rituals.

24. Trashigang Festival

Trashigang is one of the biggest festivals of Bhutan. This festival attracts people from all over eastern Bhutan. During this festival, the nomadic community of Merak and Sakteng, called the Brokpas, dress up in their unique attires and perform various cultural events. Different traditional masked dances are performed during this festival apart from the other cultural events like traditional folk music. The unfurling of life-sized tapestries of Guru Tshengyed and Neten Chudrug also attract large crowds.

Date: December 3- December 5, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Unfurling of tapestries
Various cultural events performed by monks and locals.

25. Takin Festival

The Takin Festival allows you to get a closer look at Bhutan’s National Animal, the Takin or Budorcas taxicolor. Held in Jigmi Dorji National Park of Gasa Dzongkhag, it is one of the most celebrated festivals in Bhutan. Despite being one of the most endangered species in the world, they are still thriving in Bhutan. It is a one time opportunity for tourists to enjoy the sight of the national animal of Bhutan. The festival is not just only about this majestic animal but also about excellent trekking, luxurious hot springs and shopping. You can also enjoy lip-smacking cuisine served here in popular eateries. This festival is an all-in-one festival which is undoubtedly worth a visit.

Date: April 4- April 8, 2020
Top Attractions of the festival:
Once in a lifetime opportunity to see the majestic National Animal of Bhutan, the Takin
Other than this, adventure seekers can also engage in trekking

26. Pemagatshel Festival

Pema Gatshel Dzongkhag is a well-known district, located in the Eastern part of Bhutan and is inhabited with Tshanglas, known for their religious involvement, festivals, traditions and folk music. The celebration of Tshechu has been going on in this region since the early 1980s. This festival is a three-day affair and people from neighbouring regions and also from across the country come during this festival to celebrate with their families. Folk dances and musical performances by locals are a part of this festival, like any other Bhutanese festival. Cham, a popular mask dance, believed to protect people from harmful influences is performed during this festival, and it narrates the ways of Buddhism.

Date: Usually held in October
Where: Pemagatsel Dzong, Pemagatsel, Bhutan
Top Attractions of the festival:
Cham dance performed by locals
Traditional cultural programmes

27. Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu

Bumthang Nimalung Tshechu Festival is a three-day-long festival at the Nimalung Buddhist Monastery in Bhutan. This annual festival is always conducted on the 10th Day of a Bhutanese Calendar month, which is widely celebrated as birth anniversary of Guru Rimpoche, who is considered as the Second Buddha. During this festival, there will be both mask dances by the monks as well as music and dance performances by the local villagers. It is an essential festival as all family members come together from different parts of the country and discuss the important issues and pray for a successful year ahead.

Date: July 10-July 11, 2019

28. Monggar Tshechu

Monggar Tshechu Festival is one occasion which you will truly not want to give a miss, especially if you are someone who adores the Bhutanese way of life and their beliefs and customs. It is a famous festival, and people from all parts of Bhutan come to witness it. A lot of unique dances indigenous to the region like mask dances are integral parts of this festival. Other than that, this festival hosts several other cultural events, and you also get to taste authentic Bhutanese cuisines. This festival concludes with the unfurling of a life-sized tapestry of Guru Tshengye Thongdrol.

Date: December 4- December 6, 2019
Top Attractions of the festival:
Get a closer look at the Bhutanese way of life.
Enjoy traditional programmes and delicious bhutanese cuisines

29. Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Festival

Held in Tamshing Monastery in Bumthang Valley, Bhutan, the Tamshing Phala Chhoepa festival is celebrated every year for three days, to pay homage to Terton Pema Lingpa, a Bhutanese saint from the 15th Century. People from all over Bhutan, gather in Bumthang Valley during this festival to witness the performances put up by the monks of the Monastery. The Pig Dance, or Phagchham, is performed on the first day and the Pholay Molay Cham Dance is performed on the final day.

Date: October 8- October 10, 2019
Top Attraction of the festival:
Phagchham dance and Pholay Molay Cham dance performed by the Buddhist Monks
Witness the traditional way of paying tribute to Saint Terton Pema Lingpa.

With masked dancers, traditional music, colourful attires and joy all around being essentials of every festival in Bhutan, make sure you attend these festivals so that you do not miss out on all the rich cultural festivities of Bhutan.

This post was published by Holidify.com

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