Bhutan festivals reflect the spirituality as well as the vibrant culture of the Thunder Dragon kingdom through the ups and downs of the historical journey. Once visiting this extraordinary country, it is essential to attend the stunning folk festival at least one time in your life to witness the unique Cham dance and approach authentic Bhutan with the friendly community.

Bhutan Festivals - Top 5 Biggest Festivals Of Bhutan

Traditional festivals in Bhutan takes place all year round in honor of Saint Guru Rinpoche who introduced Buddhism for the Bhutanese people in the 8th century. Amongst them, there are 5 most famous religious festivals including Paro Tsechu, Thimphu Tsechu, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, Punakha Drubchen, and Ura Yakchoe. With the lively atmosphere and full of colors will ensure a remarkable experience in Bhutan tour.

Top 5 Biggest Festivals of Bhutan

Paro Tsechu Festival

Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular and vivid festivals of Bhutan takes place in Paro, one of Bhutan’s major towns in the west. It is annually celebrated on the early April or late of March depending on the lunar calendar and lasted for 4 to 5 days in honor of Saint Guru Rinpoche who was a Buddhist master of the 8th century.

Attending this amazing celebration, visitors will deeply indulge in the vibrancy as well as have a chance to wear the traditional dress of Bhutan to witness the charm and the fascinating performances of the monks and other people cover their faces by the silk masks to perform the cham (the religious ritual dance). Here you will experience the sounds of trumpets, flute and other traditional musical instruments of the country.

Paro Festival - Bhutan Traditional Festival

This also a great chance to meet the King of Bhutan who is the youngest king in the world. Unlike other Kings, he is extremely simple and close to his people. However, you should notice that photograph and even ask the king for taking a photo are not encouraged during this time. On the final day of the festival, visitors will admire a giant religious picture called Thangka depicting the life of the Buddha. The painting is made from silk, cotton and used as a teaching tool telling the story of mythology as well as the crucial historical events in the past. With a variety of sizes as well as the anger and peaceful images, this would be a great chance for visitors to discover the unique culture of the Himalayan kingdom.

Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival

Jambay Lhakhang Drup is held in Jambay temple of Bumthang district (or Jakar) – one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. This celebration takes place on the late October or November (depending on the lunar calendar) and lasts about 4 days to commemorate the temple’s establishment and to honor saint Guru Rinpoche who introduced the Buddhism to the kingdom.

Jambay Lhakhang Drup Festival - traditional festivals in bhutan

Besides the unique mask dance performed in other the festivals, Jambay Lhakhang Drup witnesses the special naked dance also known as the “Ter Cham”. At midnight, a group of men with faces covered by traditional masks and naked body go to the courtyard of the temple and perform the sacred dance. According to the legend of the country, the performance is believed to ward off the evil. Jambay Lhakhang Drup is thought to be the oldest and most sacred ritual of Bhutan.

Punakha Drubchen & Tsechu

Punakha Drubchen and Tsechu, along with other outstanding celebrations around the country, are the majestic festivals of Bhutan. Punakha Drubchen is one of the oldest festivals takes place in Punakha where is home to the former capital of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, three days of Drubchen held before three days of Tsechu. It is celebrated to commemorate the victory of the country when Zhabdung Ngawang Namgyal defeated the Tibetan dominants led to the unification to the country. Likewise, Punakha Tsechu is one of the most popular events celebrated annually across the country. These two festivals reflect the spiritual richness of the Bhutanese people and significantly contribute to the cultural diversity of the country.Punakha Drubchen - biggest bhutan festivals

Haa Summer Festival

Haa Summer festival – a special event features by the lively and fascinating atmosphere takes place on the early of July. Here if other Tsechu traditional festivals are imposed with the formality and solemnity, Haa Summer Festival offers you a chance to immerse in the vibrant and lively experiences. This is an ideal time for tourists to visit the majestic Haa Valley and explore the country’s traditional sports, music and take part in uplifting activities such as riding, especially kayaking along the stunning Haa river.

Bhutan Haa Summer Festival

Thimphu Tsechu Festival

Last but not least, Thimphu Tsechu, like Paro Tsechu, is one of the grandest festivals of Bhutan takes place in the capital city and lasts for three days in honor to the saint Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava). If Paro Tsechu is the highlight of the spring festival, Thimphu Tshechu is celebrated on September making it one of the best things do to and see in Bhutan in the autumn. This occasion is also the best time to visit Bhutan when the weather is pleasant, the sky is bright blue coupled with many people from all districts throughout the country head to the capital to attend the colorful festival after harvesting time.

Thimphu festival - traditional festival in Bhutan

Thimphu Tsechu is believed to remove all bad Karma and bless for the good luck for all people who witness the sacred cham performances. Noticeably, these performances send a meaningful message. According to Eastern and Bhutan culture, there is an existence of another life after life. Hence, the cham dances convey the life of people after his death until his rebirth.

Top 5 Most Vibrant Festivals in Bhutan

Wangdue Phodrang Festival

The central region of Bhutan – Wangdue Phodrang, is well-known for its ornamental speeches & songs known as Lozeys. Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu was introduced after the completion of Dzong – the fortress in 1639. This Bhutan festival welcomes dwellers and thousands of tourists to come to revel in the festivities & to celebrate life and merriment.

Wangdue Phodrang Festival
Enjoying the festival, you can see the “Ox Dance” – a major attraction of it. People do the dance to make sure a peaceful afterlife The Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu is concluded with the unfurling of the various paintings’ gigantic scroll – Guru Tshngye Thongdrol.

Matsutake Festival

Matsutake is one of the most well-known harvest festival in Bhutan. It is a celebration that is done by the locals of Ura Valley in the period of the mushroom season. The festival marks the celebration of mushroom harvesting in Matsutake.

Matsutake Festival
During the time, the dwellers make scrumptious delicacies & visitors can get a peek of the people’s lifestyle there. Activities of the festival includes mushroom picking excursion & getting a glimpse of the panoramic forests.

Jomolhari Mountain Festival

Jomolhari Mountain Festival/ Tshechu happens for approx. 2 days & it is considered to be one of the most exquisite celebrations to be admired. If you are into enjoying famous Bhutan festivals in 2020, this one is a must.

Jomolhari Mountain Festival
Jomolhari Mountain Festival is held at the foothills of the Mt. Jomolhari’s heels. Activities includes a snow leopard show aiming in spreading awareness on the declining snow leopards’ number.

Nimalung Festival

Nimalung Festival stands to be one of the most vibrant festivals in Bhutan. The festival is held with much zeal & there would be traditional folk dances as well as other performances which is done by the dwellers. Also, the mask dance would be the highlight of the place. Visitors can see the people beseech the gods to find their blessing & fortunes.

Nimalung Festival

Nomad Festival

This is a yearly festival in Bhutan that is held in Bumthang (10-hour drive from Thimphu). In this event, the nomadic local from all parts of Bhutan (especially from North East & North West Himalayas) come here to enjoy. During this Bhutan festival, you can witness traditional dances, vibrant outfits that is enhanced by the surreal & lush-green surroundings.

Nomad Festival

Top 4 Important Bhutan Festivals

Sakteng Festival

A yearly celebration happening in the Sakteng Valley. The valley is at the Eastern side of Bhutan & the semi nomads that is named the Brokpas reside here. Although it is an excluded place, this festival is still worth to be experienced that happens for approx. 3 days.

Sakteng Festival

Takin Festival

Takin is one of the Bhutan symbols. The Takin Festival is held at Jigme Dorji National Park which is located at Gasa Dzongkha. With this festival, visitors can get an insight into this Bhutan national animal. Another activities you can do is trekking, enjoying hot spring bath to make the festival even more special.

Ura Yakchoe Festival

Ura Yakchoe is a well-known dance performance that is performed at the Ura Valley in Bumthang. During the Ura Yakchoe Festival, the dwellers will perform traditional dance. Along with dancing performance, a sacred relic will be revealed. The Ura Yakchoe Festival plays an essential role in locals here as they come to seek blessings & worship the relic.

Ura Yakchoe Festival

Black-Necked Crane Festival

This is truly a fascinating festival that is quite evident by its name; however, it holds quite prevalent among the locals. Taking place at the Gangtey Gompa courtyard situated in the Phobjikha Valley, the Black-necked Crane Festival has a message to mankind which is creating awareness on protecting the endangered black-necked cranes.

Black-Necked Crane Festival

Tips for Bhutan Travel in Festival Season

Traditional festivals play a vital role in the spiritual life of Bhutanese people by preserving and developing the country’s unique tradition and culture. Hence, visitors are encouraged to dress modestly in Bhutan traditional dress and avoid wearing shorts, shorts skirts or crop tops whenever you attending the festival. Additionally, important celebrations witness enormous visitors and thus the accommodation during this time is always at the premium and scarcity. For this reason, it is better to book early as soon as you plan Bhutan festival tours in order not to miss an opportunity to indulge in excellent experiences.

Tips for Bhutan travel in Festival Season

Bhutan Festival Calendar 2021

Festivals

LocationStartEnd

Punakha Drubchen

PunakhaFebruary 19th

February 21st

Punakha Tshechu

PunakhaFebruary 22nd

February 24th

Tharpaling Thongdrol

Bumthang

February 27th

Talo Tshechu

PunakhaMarch 21st

March 23rd

Zhemgang Tshechu

ZhemgangMarch 21st

March 23rd

Gomphukora

TrashigangMarch 21st

March 23rd

Gasa Tshechu

GasaMarch 21st

March 23rd

Paro Tshechu

ParoMarch 21st

March 23rd

Chhorten Kora

Trashi YangtseMarch 28th

April 11th

Rhododendron Festival

ThimphuApril 16th

April 18th

Domkhar Tshechu

BumthangApril 22nd

April 24th

Ura Yakchoe

BumthangApril 25th

April 27th

Nimalung Tshechu

BumthangJune 18th

June 20th

Kurjey Tshechu

BumthangJune 20th

Haa Summer Festival

Haa ValleyJuly 10th

July 11th

Mushroom Festival

ThimphuAugust 15thAugust 16th
Tour of the Dragon (Bicycle Race)Bumthang

September 04th

Thimphu Drubchen

ThimphuSeptember 12th

Wangdue Tshechu

Wangdue PhodrangSeptember 14thSeptember 16th
Tamshing Phala ChhoepaBumthangSeptember 16th

September 18th

Thimphu Tshechu

ThimphuSeptember 16thSeptember 20th
Thangbi ManiBumthangSeptember 18th

September 21st

Gangtey Tshechu

GangteySeptember 18thSeptember 20th
Chhukha TshechuChukhaOctober 13th

October 15th

Jakar Tshechu

BumthangOctober 13thOctober 15th
Jhomolhari Mountain FestivalThimphuOctober 14th

October 15th

Dechenphu Tshechu

ThimphuOctober 15th
Jambay Lhakhang DrupBumthangOctober 20th

October 22nd

Prakhar Duchhoed

BumthangOctober 21stOctober 23rd
Royal Highland FestivalGasaOctober 23rd

October 24th

Bhutan Bird Festival

ZhemgangNovember 11thNovember 13th
Black Necked Crane FestivalWangdue Phodrang

November 11th

Mongar Tshechu

MongarNovember 12thNovember 14th
Trashigang TshechuTrashigangNovember 12th

November 14th

Pemagatshel Tshechu

PemagatshelNovember 12thNovember 14th
Nalakhar TshechuBumthangNovember 19th

November 21st

Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham

BumthangNovember 19th
Trongsa TshechuTrongsaDecember 11th

December 13th

Lhuentse Tshechu

LhuentseDecember 11thDecember 13th

Druk Wangyel Tshechu

Thimphu

December 13th

Samdrupjongkhar TshechuSamdrup JongkharDecember 16th

December 18th

Nabji Lhakhang DrubTrongsaDecember 18th

December 20th