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24 Best Bhutan Festivals

 
  • Bhutan predominantly has many temples and monasteries and hence there are many religious and popular Bhutan festivals which have become an important tourist attraction for many. Tshechu is a festival which is annually celebrated in Bhutan on every tenth day of the month and it is considered to be very auspicious festival which everybody should attend and see the mask dances.

    For people who are seeking an element of adrenaline rush even in festivals can be a part of Jomolhari Mountain Festival which is located amidst one of the scenic trekking routes in Bhutan. Nimalung, Nomad and Pema Gatshel Tshechu are some of the other popular festivals which are celebrated in Bhutan.

    Here are the best Bhutan Festivals that you should attend:

  • 01Merak Tshechu

    In Trashigang Dzongkhag district of eastern Bhuta, Murak valley is a pristine destination with unmatched scenic beauty and remains inhabited with people referred as Brokpas. The Brokpas are exceptionally rooted to their traditions and are quite secluded from the happenings of outside world. The culture of this place is unique and quite different from any other communities of Bhutan.

    The Merak Tshechu is celebrated at Merak Lhakhang for a continuous three days and it provides a much needed break to the Brokpas from the monotonous life of cattle herding. Traditional dances and music are performed by the locals here to celebrate the occasion. Famous dance performance AcheLhamo is also performed during this festival. It is a unique spectacle and many visitors from other communities and travelers visit the festival to enjoy the beauty of the festival.

    Highlights
    : Yak Dance performance

    Festival time
    : In the month of November
  • 02Matsutake Festival

    Image Credit : Andrea Williams
    Matsutake Festival is a festival of the people of Ura Valley in celebration of mushroom season. This is the time to celebrate the harvest of Matsutake mushrooms of Bhutan, enjoy mouth melting Bhutanese cuisine and get a peek inside the lifestyle of people in the Bhutanese villages. Ura valley is quite famous for its pictorial setting and the people here are extremely warm and hospitable. Visitors attending the festival can enjoy the mushroom picking excursion and the panoramic forests and hilly areas.

    One can enjoy the delicious dishes out of this mushrooms picked and can dance and do absolute merry making with the locals. In the backdrop of awe striking scenic location this festival gives an excellent experience to remember forever

    Image Credits : Eugene Kim



    Highlights
    : Picking Matsutake mushrooms and relishing special local dishes from it.

    Festival time
    : In the month of August
  • 03Jomolhari Mountain Festival

    Image Credit : Gary Ashley
    Celebrated for two days, Jamolhari Mountain Festival is one of the most exquisite things that you will ever get to see. The magnificent theme and the amazing people define the soul of this festival which is celebrated at the heels of Mt. Jomolhari. This festival is pretty important for the local communities living around this area. There are a number of amazing shows but one in particular will surely overwhelm you.

    It is called the snow leopard show. The show aims at making people aware of the declining numbers of snow leopards, which used to be a very common sight at one time. During the festival, you will see the locals clad in colourful traditional dresses. They do the traditional folk dance on the folk songs. The show is something you will never forget your entire life.

     

    Image Credits : Gary Ashley



    Location
    : At the base of the Jamohhar Mountain.

    Timing
    : Usually during the day

    Price
    : Part of the package
  • 04Monggar Tshechu

    Image Credit :  kartografia
    If you are in Bhutan, you should definitely visit Mongar, especially during Tshechu, the three day annual event which is organized every year in November. This is one event you will really not want to miss, especially if you are someone who loves the culture and tradition of Bhutan.

    The event is so popular that people from all over Bhutan come to see it. In fact, you will be able to see people coming from Lhunentse and even Trashigang. The most incredible thing about this event is the number of traditional dances and performances you get to se. Although many traditional festivals keep happening in different parts of Bhutan, this one is easily the most exquisite and unforgettable one. Come and visit this event to get the true essence of Bhutan in every way.

    Image Credits : Arian Zwegers



    Location
    : Mongar, east of Bhutan

    Timing
    : November, during the day

    Price
    : No special fee is applicable
  • 05Nimalung Festival

    Bhutan is famous for its colourful festivals. Nimalung Festival is one of the most important festivals of Bhutan. For those who love the Bhutanese cultures and traditions and want to enjoy the traditional folk dances and performances of the locals clad in vibrant outfits, there is no way they can miss this festival. During the festival time, you will also see the locals clad in their finest dresses.

    Come here to enjoy, relax, and get lost in the beauty of Bhutan. The communities participate in a number of performances and shows. Mask dance is one of the major attractions of this festival. While dancing in masks, the locals beseech their gods for the blessings and to get rid of their misfortunes.



    Location
    : Happens at Chumey, which is in Bumthang. It is at 15 minutes drive from the road that forks off from Chumey.

    Timing
    : During the day.

    Price
    : Part of the package
  • 06Nomad Festival

    If you are planning to visit Bumthang, then the best time would be when the annual Nomad Festival is being held. Bumthang is the part of central Bhutan and less than 10 hr drive from Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. This is the time of the year when you get to see the real nomadic people coming together from all parts of Bhutan. However, primarily the nomads from North West and North East Himalayas dominate the festival with their presence.

    During the festival you get to witness the unforgettable shows when the nomads put on the traditional performance. You get to understand their culture, traditions, and way of living. The colourful outfits, cheerful environment, and all in the backdrop of incredible landscape make the experience overwhelming.



    Location
    : Bumthang – 10hr drive from Thimpu

    Timing
    : From late in the morning till late in the evening.

    Price
    : No special pricing to visit the festival
  • 07Paro Tshechu

    Held in Paro Dzongkhag district, the Paro Tshechu is one of the sought after festivals and a major attraction in the land of Bhutan. It is one of the biggest religious festivals here. The history of the festivals travels back to 17th century when the founder of Bhutan Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel conducted it annually. The festival continues for 5 days usually during spring time on the 2nd Bhutanese lunar month. It is an opportunity to visualize the rich tradition, culture and custom of Bhutan.

    The locals rejoice with both religious dance performances as well as folk dances performed by monks and natives. The last day of the festival is special as on this day a gigantic thangka or embroidery painting is shown to all. The Guru Throngdel shows Buddhist art and it is believed that looking at it also cleanses many sin of viewers.



    Festival Time
    : March every year
  • 08PemaGatshel Tshechu

    Based in the eastern part of Bhutan, Pema Gatshel Dzonkhag is a well known district inhabited with Tshanglas, known for its religious involvement, traditions, festivals and folk music. The celebration of Tshechu has started in this region from the early 1980’s with the construction of Dzong. This is a three day affair where people from neighboring place and far away locations come here and celebrate the social gathering and contemplate religion.

     It is believed that one can attend merit by only being a part of this religious celebration. Folk dances and music is quite common during this period. Cham, a popular mask dance is performed during this festival which narrates ways of Buddhism. It is believed to protect from harmful influences and misfortune.


    Highlights
    : Folk dances by the natives.

    Festival Time
    : Usually in October
  • 09Punakha Tshechu and Drubchen

    Image Credit : Marina & Enrique
    A popular annual festival, Punakha Tshechu and Drubchen gets celebrated in Punakha which is located in the western side of Bhutan. The festival has great historical importance which makes it more popular among natives. In 17thcentury, Tibetan forces invaded Bhutan from where Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Buddhist saint, led the victory of the country.

    This auspicious occasion was celebrated with the introduction of the celebration of Punakha Drubchen which is continued till date once every year. In 2005, Punakha Tshechu was introduced to preserve Buddhist documents and his teachings. Usually these festivals occur simultaneously and in both of them much entertainment is provided by performances in folk dance. Religious customs are performed in both the festivals in the same manner as done in earlier times

    Image Credits : Esin Üstün



    Highlights
    : Folk dances by the natives.

    Festival Time
    : Usually in the month of March
  • 10Sakteng Festival

    Sakteng festival is celebrated in Sakteng valley which is located in the eastern part of Bhutan at an elevation of 3000 meters. The people based here are semi nomadic and they are often referred as Brokpas. This is one of the secluded places of Bhutan where influence of the modern world is yet to reach. The Sakten Tshechu Festival stretches for 3 days almost next to the village grounds.

    Apart from being a festival where the natives come together in religious influence for worshipping, it also serves as a occasion for social gathering and merry making. The festival is quite colourful where every person remains adorned in traditional clothes and celebrates with Ara, the local wine. Music and folk dances are essential part of festivity.

    Highlights
    : Yak dance and Ache Lhamo.

    Festival time: In the month of June
  • 11Takin Festival

    Takin Festival held in Jigmi Dorji National Park of Gasa Dzongkhag, is one of the most celebrated and popular festivals in Bhutan. Infact it is a one time opportunity for every visitor to enjoy the sight of the national animal of Bhutan which is a rare and endangered species. The magnificence of their physique and laden agility is an experience to be treasured.

    However the festival is not only concentrated over the majestic animal as in this festival one gets the opportunity to engage in good trekking, enjoy hot spring baths and do shopping of exclusive handicraft items like dresses, carpets, bamboos, leather products, tents etc. Once can also enjoy the lip smacking delicious cuisine served here in popular eateries based here. It is worth every penny to visit Bhutan during this festival and enjoy the charms of it.



    Highlights
    : Performance of Bhutan Takin up close.

    Festival time
    : In the month of February
  • 12Thimphu Tshechu

    Thimphy Tshechu is one of the oldest and most popular festivals of Bhutan. Celebrated for 3 days, this festival first got introduced Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay in 1867 which later suffered some changes by the third Bhutan king in 1950. Usually celebrated in Tendrel Thang, in front of Tashichhoedzong this is a festival which is attained by masses of people from all parts of the country. Even the farmers take a break from their farming life and join hands to worship night and day and play rituals to invoke God.

    During this festival Cham dancers perform and provide great details about Buddhism and marks the right way towards honest living and blissful life. It is believed that these dance performances increases good luck and removes misfortune. It is also a social gathering for the people of Bhutan where they celebrate with fine clothes, jewellery and good cuisine



    Festival time
    : In the month of October
  • 13Trongsa Tshechu

    Image Credit :  Anja Disseldorp
    Celebrated annually in the courtyard of Trongsa Dzong in Trongsa which is the ancestral home for the Royal family, in Central Bhutan, the Trongsa Tshechu is an ancient festival with rich traditions of the country. As per the history of Bhutan, the first and the second king of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancestral throne. The festival is an elaborate affair for 3 continuous days and attracts people from all walks of life. It acts as a social gathering where people meet friends and relatives and together participate in merry making.

    Traditional mask dance is a common affair in this festival. On the last day a sacred Throngdrol is displayed by monks. As per locals, visualizing the Throngdrol, itself is a pious affair and it washes sins done by onlookers.

    Image Credits : Anja Disseldorp



    Highlights
    : Blessings of sacred Throngdrol

    Festival time
    : In the month of December
  • 14Ura Yakchoe

    Ura Yakchoe is referred to a famous dance performance shown in the Ura Valley of Bumthang. In this festival the sacred dance is performed along with other popular folk dances with a sacred relic on display so as to have blessings from the same. According to the historic reference, a lama visited one local woman in her house suddenly and asked for a glass of water.

    She went to fetch water and after coming back found the lama gone leaving the sacred relic behind. It is this relic before which the Ura Yakchoe dance is performed. This relic has been passed on for generations after generation of the woman’s family. This is one of the pious and religious festiuvals of Bhutan and many devotees visit the place to take part in worshipping the relic.

     



    Highlights
    : The sacred relic

    Festival time
    : In the month of April
  • 15Wangduephodrang Tshechu

    Image Credit : Carsten ten Brink
    Wangduephodrang Tshechu is an annual festival introduced by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal after the Dzong was completed. As per history, the dzong which served as the administrative centre got constructed in 1639 by the disciplined effort of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal near Puna Tsang Chu. To celebrate this occasion, a 3 day festival was organized which is majorly attended by the natives of Thimphu and Punakha.

    One of the most celebrated activities on this festival is Raksha Mangcham which is also named as the dance of the ox. Huge gathering assembles to see the beautiful act which concludes with the display of the Guru Tshengye Thongdrol where every onlooker fetch blessings and wash away their sins.

    Image Credits : Carsten ten Brink



    Highlights
    : sight of Guru Tshengye Thongdrol

    Festival time
    : In the month of June
  • 16Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival

    Image Credit : Arian Zwegers
    Celebrated at the Druk Wangyal Lhakhang Festival Ground, near Dochula Pass, the Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival got established in 2011 in memorial of His Majesty the Fourth Druk along with the auspicious occasion of achieving victory over Indian forces in southern Bhutan. One of the main attractions is the scenic beauty of panoramic Himalayan range encircling the Pass. The festival is usually a one day affair but it depicts the rich tradition, custom and culture of the Bhutanese people. The festival honors the service of the courageous and spirited Fourth king who actively participated in the Armed forces of the country. The Druk Wangel Lhakhang is a beautiful temple built here in memory of the fourth king. One can enjoy various murals and Bhutanese work of art depicting important events of the country on the walls of the temple.

    Highlights
    : Sight of Druk Wangel Lhakhang.

    Festival time
    : In the month of December
  • 17Trashigang Tshechu

    Image Credit :  Arian Zwegers
    Trashigang Tshechu is one of the prominent festivals which gets held in Trashigang Dzongkhag which is the largest district of Bhutan. The Trashigang Dzong was based on one of the maximum elevated ridges which overlook Dangmechu and Gamrichu. Though all the villages have their own distinctive annual festivals but it is the Tshechu held in Trashigang Dzong which is more attractive. This is a 3 day affair and usually the festival is attended by people from all kinds of communities from various corners of Bhutan.

    Usually the preparation of the festivals starts 2 days prior to actual date of the festival. The three day affair consists of ceremonial ablution, rehearsals, preparation and on the last day it concludes with the display of Thongdrol. The celebration is made grander with mask dance performance.



    Highlights
    : Sight of Guru Tshengyed, Thongdrol.

    Festival time
    : In the month of December
  • 18The Annual Black-necked Crane Festival -11th November

    Image Credit : Doug Knuth
    The Annual Black-necked Crane Festival –is a popular festival celebrated in the Gangtey Gompa courtyard in Phobjikha valley, with a purpose of passing a massage to all human races. The motive behind this festival is to conserve and protect the endangered black necked cranes. In this festival the locals rejoice on the arrival of the majestic bird in their lives during the winter months.

    In this festival one can view several cultural programs, celebration with folk music and dances based on the theme of conserving the species and dramas on the same content. The drama is usually shown by school children to create awareness on environment conservation. Phobjikha Environment Management Committee (PEMC), organizes the event which became almost a part of the culture in Phobjikha valley

    Image Credits : Doug Knuth



    Highlights
    : sight of crane dance

    Festival time
    : In the month of November
  • 19Chorten Kora Festival

    Image Credit : Arian Zwegers
    Celebrated in the easternmost district of Bhutan, Trashiyangtse, this festival is famous for its religious significance. Chorten Kora is a notable stupa created by Lama Ngawang Lodrö in 1740 to subdue a demon which used to live in the place where at present the Chorten is based. Dakpa Kora a popular ritual takes place during the Chorten Kora festival.

    The festival remains crowded by people from various regions of the country. The brilliant designs of the stupa often remains compared with the Boudhanath stupa based in Nepal. According to the legends here, the stupa took about twelve years to complete and after its construction, the village people lived peacefully. One can enjoy many age old traditions of Bhutan in this festival.

    Image Credits : Arian Zwegers



    Highlights
    : Sight of Chorten Kora and enjoy traditional performance by natives

    Festival Time
    : In the month of March
  • 20Gomphu Kora Festival

    Gomphu Kora festival is a three day religious festival which is popular not only for the local tribes but also among Dakpa tribe from the neighboring Arunachal Pradesh. Gomphu means Meditation Cave. According to the locals the name came into existence from a cave made of rock face where there is also a temple which is built to pay tribute to this location.

    The festival comprises of many local tradition and customs. According to a popular song played here by the locals one should go round the cave today or may be tomorrow would be too late. It is a symbol of the victory of good over evil. The place seems too come alive during the festive days and the blessing at this time is considered extremely pious and that is why thousands of devotees travel during that time.

     

    Image Credits : Arian Zwegers



    Highlights
    : Sight of Meditation cave

    Festival time
    : In the month of March
  • 21Haa Summer Festival

    Image Credit : Gary Ashley
    Haa valley is one of the pristine locations where one can enjoy the various charms of nature in Bhutan. The Haa summer festival is a pleasant occasion which conducts a celebration of the living culture the exclusive lifestyle, the religious performances, tradition, heritage, customs, sports and undoubtedly native Bhutanese home cooked cuisine. The festival almost serves as an insight to the tradition of Bhutan.

    The celebration is conducted in Haa valley which can be reached by crossing Chelela Mountain pass, the highest road pass of the country. This is an extremely scenic location where the mind gets rejuvenated with a simple walk on the mountain slopes. Traditional dances and popular songs are performed by natives in this festival and onlookers may enjoy the same with Ara, local liquor.

    Image Credits : Ankur Banerjee



    Highlights
    : White Poppy, a flower which is about 1.5 m in length. This flower is not available in any other parts of the world.

    Festival time
    : In the month of July
  • 22Jambay Lhakhang Festival

    Image Credit : Chuck Moravec
    Located on the way to Kurjie Lhakhang, in Bumthang, Jambay Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples founded in 7th century by Songtsen Gampo, a Tibetan King. As per legends, the king was destined to construct 108 temples in a single day, to suppress a demon in the Himalayan region. This temple is one of those 108 temples. Legend Guru Rimpoche is believed to visit this destination and considered it a sacred and extremely pious destination.

    The temple got renovated again in 8th century AD. The temple has more than hundred statues of Gods and Goddesses but the main attraction is the relic of future Buddha. This is a spectacular festival which is celebrated for five days.

    Image Credits : Chuck Moravec



    Highlights
    : A ritualistic naked dance on the fire that attracts huge crowd from all over the country.

    Festival time
    : In the month of November
  • 23Kurjey Festival

    Image Credit : Anja Disseldorp
    Kurjey Tshechu is a popular festival celebrated in Kurjey temple in Chokhor valley of Bumthang district. There is huge historical significance attached to this temple as well as the festival. According to the legends Guru Rimpoche meditated here for the suppression of evil spirits in this region. There are three major temples in Kurjey.

    The first temple was built in 1652 on the location where Guru Rimpoche meditated, the second one on the place where Guru left his body imprint and the third built in 1990 which holds images of Guru Rimpoche. The Kurjey festival is one of the important religious occasions for the locals of the place. It is a social gathering as well as a time to seek blessing and enjoy victory of good over evil. It is a festival that displays the golden traditions of Bhutan and the rich cultural heritage.

    Image Credits : Anja Disseldorp



    Highlights
    : special mask dance

    Festival time
    : In 10th day of 10th month of lunar calendar
  • 24Lhuntse Tshechu

    Image Credit : Hriday
    Bordering the Tibetan region Lhuntse is the easternmost district of Bhutan. The place is filled with various sacred monuments but it is Lhuntse Dzong the fortress that attracts all eyes of the visitors. Almost all the villages of Lhuentse have their own festivals and customs which are unique and extremely attractive but what catches the eye most is the elaborate annual three day festival which is celebrated to honor the deities and suppress the misfortunes.
     
    It is a religious celebration and that is why huge devotees gather here to visualize the masked dance and fetch blessings from the pious relics that remain publicly displayed. It is one of the colorful festivals of the country along with Cha and Ha festivals.


     Highlights: Colorful attire of Kushithara, which makes the festival more famous.

     Festival time: In the month of November