Bhutan Festival dancers
Better Bhutan

Festivals in Bhutan

Annual religious festivals in Bhutan ("tsechus" and "dromches") are important spiritual and community occasions that give visitors a chance to experience the music and dance that are an integral part in the Bhutanese cultural life. Every village has its own tradition of dance that celebrate faith, community and tradition. They are also important social gatherings that attract people from great distances to see each eather once a year. Everyone wears their finest traditional clothing ("ghos" worn by men and "kiras" worn by women).

Bhutanese culture and tradition are influenced very heavily by Buddhism. Festivals are dedicated to saints and other deities and are celebrated in dzongs (fortress temples) and other places of religious importance These festivals are uniquely Bhutanese and have evolved over centuries as one way to retell ancient legends and reinforce Buddhist values and interpret Buddhist scripture. The principal rituals of these festivals involve stories told through dance by men wearing costumes and masks. Ritual dances are strictly carefully choreographed and not subject to artistic interpretation. The dances invoke deities of the tantric teaching, whose power removes the sins and bad luck of all who are present.

Below are dates of the principal festivals in Bhutan for as far in advance as we know them. These are by no means the only festivals in Bhutan. The largest and most interesting are described below. There are more than 2000 monasteries in the country and many of them have a festival of some kind. Hopefully, you will be able to include at least one in your own Bhutan adventure.

While visitors are welcome at any of the festivals shown below, a star indicates those that we think are going to be the best opportunities to add a unique cultural experience to an adventure in Bhutan. This is based almost entirely on the convenience of the festival's location.

2017 Festival Schedule
    
 01 - 03 DecemberGoshing TshechuGoshing, Zhembang
 01 - 03 DecemberGamung TshechuGamung, Pemagatshel
 01 - 03 DecemberBuli TshechuBuli, Nangkhor, Zhemgang
 01 - 03 DecemberPhuminthang TshechuPhuminthang, Zhemgang
 01 - 03 DecemberWamling TshechuWamling, Zhemgang
 01 - 03 DecemberTrisa TshechuTrisa, Zhemgang
02 - 03 DecemberNgatshang TshechuSilambee, Mongar
 02 - 04 DecemberKangma TshechuYurung, Pemagatshel
 02 - 05 DecemberBjoka TshechuTrong, Zhemgang
 02 - 04 DecemberKangsol ChhenmiChaskhar, Mongar
02 - 04 DecemberKadam TshechuChaskhar, Mongar
02 - 06 DecemberChonam RabdheyTang, Bumthang
 03 DecemberMa - Mung Trong TshechuZhemgang
 03 DecemberTashibee TshechuZhemgang
 03 DecemberKhomshar TshechuZhemgang
 03 DecemberNgala Trong TshechuTrong, Zhemgang
03 DecemberJambay Lhakhang Singye ChamChoekhor, Bumthang
 03 DecemberKhengkhar TshechuKhengkhar, Mongar
 03 DecemberDekiling TshedhuGelephu, Sarpang
 03 DecemberBon - choeNimshong, Zhemgang
03 - 05 DecemberNga Lhakang ZhiBumthang
03 - 05 DecemberNalakhar TshechuBumthang
12 - 18 DecemberPangkhar ChoedpaUra, Bumthang
13 DecemberDruk Wangyuel TshechuDochu La
13 - 15 DecemberSombrang KangsolUra, Bumthang
26 - 28 DecemberTrongsa TshechuTrongsa
30 December - 13 JanuaryDomsing Lhakhang TshechuJamkhar, Trashiyangtse
Tentative 2018 Festival Schedule
 16 JanuaryTawsang TshechuLhuentse
 25 - 27 JanuaryNgatshang TshechuMongar
 25 - 27 JanuaryTsatse DzonglingoenTsatse Dzong, Nanong, Pemagatshel
 26 JanuaryBon-Choe RupNangkhor, Zhemgang
 27 JanuaryChurzegang TshechuGelephu
 29 - 31 JanuaryBon-Choe RupZhemgang
 29 - 31 JanuaryShali TshechuShali, Pemagatshel
    
19 - 24 FebruaryPunakha DrebchenPunakha Dzong
20 - 22 FebruaryLhamoi DromcheTrongsa Dzong
 22 February - 2 MarchPhurba DrebchenRamjar Trashiyangtse
 23 - 25 FebruaryLhamoizingkha TshechuDagna
 24 - 26 FebruaryZhengor TshechuKhar, Pemagatshel
 25 FebruaryLi Chi Bi TshechuGoshing, Zhemgang
25 - 27 FebruaryPunakha TshechuPunakha Dzong
 28 Feb - 2 MarchNganglam TshechuZobel, Pemagatshel
    
02 - 04 MarchTangsibi ManiUra, Bumthang
02 MarchTharpalingn LhakhangChumey, Bumthang
02 MarchChorten KoraTrashiyagtse
02 - 04 MarchBuli LhakhangChumey, Bumthang
05 MarchBhutan International Marathon 
12 MarchZhuri DuechoedChumey, Bumthang
15 - 17 MarchGayden ChoedpaUra, Bumthang
17 MarchNamgang KoraTrashiyangtse
 20 MarchKharphug LhaselZhemgang
 24 - 26 MarchTsirang TshechuTsirang
 24 - 26 MarchGasa TshechuGasa
 25 - 26 MarchGomkora TshechuGomphu Kora, Trashiyangtse
 25 - 27 MarchZhemgang TshechuZhemgang
 26 MarchDaga Trashiyangtse Tendra TshechuDagana
 26 MarchPrayue ChoeZhemgang
27 - 31 MarchParo TshechuRinpung Dzong, Paro
 29 MarchPantang TshechuPhangkhar, Zhemgang
    
 11 - 13 AprilKarphu LhaselGelephu
20 - 22 AprilRhododendron FestivalDochula, Thimphu
 23 - 25 AprilDungmed TshedhuDungmin, Pematgatshel
23 - 25 AprilDomkhar TshechuKhar, Bumthang
25 - 27 AprilDokhar TshechuChumey, Bumthang
26 - 29  AprilUra LhakhangUra, Bumthang
    
 10 MayDue Mang ti TshechuGoshing, Zhemgang
 27 - 29 MayZobel TshechuZobel, Pemagatshel
 28 MayBon ChoeTrong, Zhemgang
    
02 JuneCoronation MarathonParo
02 - 04 JunePadseling KuchoedChoekhor, Bumthang
 20 - 23 JuneDer ChoedTrong, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 JuneDechenling TshechuDechenling, Pemagatshel
21 - 23 JuneNimalung TshechuBumthang
 21 - 23 JuneTrel Da TshechuDremitse, Mongar
 21 23 JuneTrel Da TshechuYagang Lhakhang, Mongar
 23 JuneDungsingma TshechuYurung, Pemagatshel
 23 JuneKhamdang Tendra TshechuKhamdang, Trashigyangtse
 23 JuneKurjeyTshechuChoekhor, Bumthang
 23 JuneTeldra TshechuYalang, Trashiyangtse
 23 JuneTrel Da TshechuChaskhar, Mongar
 23 JuneTrel Da TshechuNgatshang, Mongar
 23 - 25 JuneKhangma TshechuYurung, Pemagatshel
    
08 - 09 JulyHaa Summer FestivalHaa
 23 - 25 JulyAnnual TshechuDremitse, Mongar
 25 - 27 JulyTor DokDremitse, Mongar
    
 09 - 11 AugustHungla ChokhorTongzang, Trashiyangtse
 09 - 13 AugustKengchhqan Mangdok ChukorYalang, Trashiyangtse
12 - 13 AugustAnnual Mushroom FestivalGenekha, Thimphu
 14 AugustAa-hoi Bon ChoeBjoka/Trong, Zhemgang
 17 - 21 AugustDon-dor la Duel ChoeyBjoka/Trong, Zhemgang
18 AugustTrumshingla to Purgyela FestivalUra, Bumthang
23 - 24 AugustMatsutaki Mushroom FestivalUra, Bumthang
 24 - 27 AugustChha FestivalTagmochhu, Lhuentse
 25 - 27 AugustSa Nyen TshechuSherimuhung, Mongar
 26 AugustTakila ChhamLhuentse
    
 01 - 09 SeptemberChukorKhamdang, Trashiayangtse
02 SeptemberTour of the Dragon (Bike Race)Bumthang to Thimphu
 04 - 05 SeptemberWangzhng RabneyLhuentse
 06 - 09 SeptemberKhandro Kang sol chamKhangkhar, Mongar
15 SeptemberThimphu DromcheThimphu
 16 SeptemberBum Tashi FestivalGasa Dzong, Dasa
 16 - 19 SeptemberKhandro Kong Sag ChamTsakhaling, Mongar
 16 - 22 SeptemberNeypai ChhaGangzur, Lhuentse
 17 - 19 SeptemberAnnual TshechuTongzang, Trashiyangtse
 17 - 19 SeptemberKothakpa TshedhuShumar/Kothakpa
17 - 19 SeptemberWangdue TshechuWangduephodrang
18 - 20 SeptemberDorjtse KuchoedTang, Bumthang
 18 - 20 SeptemberShaksinggoenpa TshechuKhamdang, Trashiyangtse
18 - 20 SeptemberTamshing Phala ChoedpaChoekhor, Bumthang
 19 - 20 SeptemberGaling Guenpa TshechuGaling Guenpa, Chukha
19 - 21 SeptemberThimpu TshechuThimphu
 22 - 24 SeptemberDungsingma TshechuYurung, Pemagatshel
 22 - 24 SeptemberNangkor TshechuShumar, Pemagatshel
23 - 26 SeptemberThangbi MewangChoekhor, Bumthang
 23 - 26 SeptemberKadam TshechuKhar, Pematshel
 24 SeptemberTshapamey WangLhuentse
 25 SeptemberKhomshar KharphugBardo, Zhemgang
    
05 - 05 OctoberJhomolhari Mountain FestivalDangojang, Thimphu
 08 - 10 OctoberBhutan Birds FestivalTingtibi, Zhemang
15 - 18 OctoberShingkhar RabdheyUra, Bumthang
 15 - 19 OctoberBardo Thongdral Gar ChamJurmey, Mongar
 17 - 19 OctoberLanyiri TshechuDungmin, Pemagatshel
17 - 19 OctoberUgyencholing KangselTang, Bumthang
 17 - 19 OctoberChukha TshechuChukha
 17 - 20 OctoberTshebar TshechuKhar, Premagatshel
 18 - 20 OctoberGoenkar TshechuKhoma, Lhuentse
19 October Jakar TshechuJakar, Bumthang
 22 - 24 OctoberDungmed TshechuDungmin, Pemagatshel
 22 - 24 OctoberPemagatshel TshechuPemagatshel
 23 - 24 OctoberRoyal Highland FestivalLaya, Gasa
 24 OctoberBardo KharphugBardo, Zhemgang
24 - 27 OctoberJambay Lakhang DrupChoekhor, Bumthang
25 - 27 OctoberPakar DuechoedBumthang
 29 - 31 OctoberSonamthang TshechuZhemgang
 30 October - 8 NovemberLaya AolayLaya
    
03 - 07 NovemberSumthrang RabdheyUra, Bumthang
 06 NovemberKhomsar Bon-Choe KatagBardo, Zhemgang
 08 - 10 NovemberGoenpoi DromcheTrongsa
11 NovemberBlack Necked Crane FestivalPhobjikha
 14 - 18 NovemberKang Sol ChhenmoDremitse, Mongar
 15 - 18 NovemberTrichugoenpa TshechuTongzang, Trashiyangtse
 15 - 18 NovemberDechenling TshechuDechenling, Pemagatshel
 15 - 18 November Menchu Pemaphu3ndeyNorbugang, Pemagathsel
 15 - 18 NovemberSilambee Tshechu Silambee, Mongar
 15 - 19 NovemberTrashigang TshechuTrashigang
16 - 17 NovemberTang Namkhar RabdheyTang, Bumthang
 18 - 23 NovemberGoekar Lhakhang TshechuYalang, Trashiyangtse
 20 - 24 NovemberDoedel pemacholing TshechuRamajar, Trashiyangtse
 21 - 23 NovemberGponphug TshechuTrong, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 NovemberBuli TshechuNangkhor, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 NovemberGamung TshechuPemagatshel 
 21 - 23 NovemberNgatshang TshechurNgatshang, Mongar
 21 - 23 NovemberPhumithang TshechuShingkhar, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 NovemberShingkhar TshechuShingkhar, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 NovemberWamling TshechuShingkhar, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 November Thrisa TshechuShingkhar, Zhemgang
 21 - 23 November Goshing TshechhuGoshing, Zhemgang
 22 - 24 NovemberKangsol ChhenmoChaskhar, Mongar
 22 - 24 NovemberKadam TsechuChaskhar, Mongar
 22 - 24 NovemberKhangma TshechuYurung, Pemagatshel
 22 - 25 NovemberBjoka TshechuTrong, Zhemgang
22 - 26 NovemberChonam RabdheyTang, Bumthang
 22 - 26 NovemberLadrong Rabney TshechuJarey, Lhuentse
 23 NovemberNumerous small festivals throughoutZhemgang
23 NovemberJambay Lhakhang Singe ChamCoekhor, Bumthang
 23 NovemberKhengkhar TshechuKhengkhar, Mongar
 23 NovemberDekiling TshechuTromde, Sarapang
23 - 25 NovemberNga Lhakhang ZhiChoekhor, Bumthang
    
 ☆02 - 07 DecemberNga Lhakhang ZhiChoekhor, Bumthang
 ☆02 - 07 DecemberPangkhar ChoedpaUra, Bumthang
13 December Drukwangyel TshechuThimphu
 ☆03 - 05 DecemberSombrang KangsonUra, Bumthang
 05 - 06 DecemberJangchubling TshechuGangzur, Lhuentse
 15 - 16 December Bhutan Birds FestivalTingtibi, Zhemgang
 15 - 17 DecemberDungkhor TshechuChokhorling, Pemagatshel
 15 - 17 DecemberGelephu Rabney Dratsang TshechuGelephu
15 - 18 DecemberTrongsa TshechuTrongsa
 15 - 19 DecemberLhuentse TshechuLhuentse
 17 - 18 DecemberMendrel TshechuChongshing, Pemagatshel
 18 - 22 DecemberTaga Trashiyangthi FestivalDagana
 19 - 23 DecemberDomsing Lhakhang TshechuJamkhar, Trashiyangtse
 20 - 22 DecemberBongyue TshechuDungmin, Pemagatshel
 20 - 22 DecemberDonchen Pelri TshechuChimong, Pemagatshel
 20 - 22 DecemberSangay Lingpai ChamChuming, Pemagatshel
 20 - 22 DecemberWongborang TshechuDungmin, Pemagatshel
 21 - 22 December Labar TshechuKhar, Pemagatshel
 21 - 22 DecemberKidlung ChoedpaGangzur, Lhuentse
 ☆22 DecemberShingar Meto ChoedpaUra, Bumthang
 22 DecemberNabji Lhakhang DrubNabji, Trongsa
 22 DecemberKorphu Lhakhang DrubNabji, Trongsa
 29 - 31 DecemberDagapela TshechuDagana
Festival schedules are subject to change! If you plan to attend a specific festival it is advisable to double check dates with us.
 

Thimphu Drupchen & Thimphu Tshechu

These two festivals occur back-to-back in Thimphu, the capital city. The Thimphu Tsechu is the biggest and most spectacular of Bhutan's festivals and dates back to 1707. People flock to the capital dressed in their traditional finery to  receive blessings and watch masked dances and colorful symbolic dramas performed in the courtyard of the Thimphu Dzong. There are also clowns, called Atsaras who entertain audiences. Meanwhile, Bhutanese ladies dance and sing around the crowds. There are also distinctive masked dances.

Paro Tshechu

Since most Bhutanese people believe that they must attend the Paro Tschechu at least once in their lives, it is one of the biggest and most interesting. The highlight of this festival is the unveiling of the thongdrol, an enormous religious tapestry, before sunrise on the final day of the festival. It is seen only once a year, and may never be touched by the rays of the sun. It is believed that those who are fortunate enough to see it are cleansed of all their sins. History has it that despite several fires, the thongdrol has always miraculously escaped damage or destruction.

Jambay Lhakang Drup

This festival is held at Bumthang Valley's temple of  Jambay Lhakhang, which is steeped in mysticism. It is perhaps the most unusual of Bhutan's spiritual gatherings One of the  festival events invites the faithful to run through an archway of buring straw. Another is a midnight dance that is performed completely naked except for masks. A remarkable "penis ceremony" is also a fascinating part of the festivities.

Crane Festival

The first Crane Festival in 1998 was created by a non-profit organization to support the development of the Phobjikha community. Foreign visitors pay $50 each to attend, which also helps Black Necked Crane conservation.

Thangbi Mani

Thangbi Mani festival is one of the most popular festivals held in Chhoekhor Geog, near Jakar in the Bumthang Valley in the courtyard of a monastery built in 1470. It is famous for a fire dance performed by the monks of the monastery, as well as purification rituals involving fire. Those who can jump over aflame three times are protected from bad luck for a year. There are also masked dances, some of which are considered to have secret powers.  Residents of the hamlets of  Tangbi, Goling and Kharsath organize the festival to bring happiness and to insure a good harvest, and to elevate the prosperity of their communities.

Punakha Dromchoe and Punakha Tsechu

Two festivals  occur sequentially in Punakha. First, the five-day Dromchoe, celebrates the defeat of invading Tibetans in 1639. You will see plenty of recreated battles, horsemanship and swordplay. In the original conflict the Tibetans attempted to retrieve a "stolen" sacred artifact. The smaller Bhutanese army marched out the front door of the dzong and returned through the back door over and over, giving the Tibetans the impression that the locals had an enormous army. Later, the Bhutanese ceremoniously threw an empty box into the river. Thinking that the sacred artifact was lost forever, the frightened, disappointed Tibetans withdrew. You can still see the relic in Punakha Dzong. The Tsechu is primarily a religious festival that includes plenty of masked dancers.

Tamshingphala Choepa

This festival is held at the "Temple of Good Message," established in 1501, which makes this one of the oldest religious places in Bhutan. Monks perform mask dances, as with all Bhutanese festivals. What makes this one special is that monastery is one of only very few Nyingma (a very old and uniquely Tibetan denomination of Buddhism) temples in the Kingdom. Very few foreigners find their way here, which affords those who do a very unique and unspoiled cultural experience.

Trashigang Tshechu

Trashigang is the largest town in eastern Bhutan. This medieval dzong holds a very colorful country-style festival attracts people all over Bhutan, including tribal Merak and Sakteng people. The local folks, who wear costumes not seen anywhere else in Bhutan, make the festival really interesting. Few foreigners venture this far. In addition to masked dancers and ritual blessings, a large painted thangka (a painting or appliqué on fabric that depicts a Buddhist deity, scene, or mandala) is displayed.

 

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