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.
Traditional festivals in Bhutan take place all year round in honor of Saint Guru Rinpoche who introduced Buddhism to the Bhutanese people in the 8th century. Amongst them, there are the 5 most famous religious festivals including Paro Tsechu, Thimphu Tsechu, Jambay Lhakhang Drup, Punakha Drubchen, and Ura Yakchoe. The lively atmosphere and full of colors will ensure a remarkable experience on the Bhutan tour.
Top 5 Biggest Festivals of Bhutan
Paro Tsechu Festival
Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular and vivid festivals of Bhutan and takes place in Paro, one of Bhutan’s major towns in the west. It is annually celebrated in early April or late March depending on the lunar calendar and lasted for 4 to 5 days in honor of Saint Guru Rinpoche, 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 with 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.
This is 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 photographs and even asking 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, and 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 the 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 in 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 Buddhism to the kingdom.
Besides the unique mask dance performed in other 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 bodies 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 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 that take place in Punakha which is home to the former capital of the Thunder Dragon Kingdom, three days of Drubchen are 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 of 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.
Haa Summer Festival
Haa Summer festival – a special event that features a lively and fascinating atmosphere that takes place in early 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.
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 of the saint Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava). If Paro Tsechu is the highlight of the spring festival, Thimphu Tshechu is celebrated in September making it one of the best things to 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 Tsechu is believed to remove all bad Karma and bless 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 afterlife. 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 & celebrate life and merriment.
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 is one of the most well-known harvest festivals in Bhutan. It is a celebration that the locals of Ura Valley do during the period of the mushroom season. The festival marks the celebration of mushroom harvesting in Matsutake.
During this time, the dwellers make scrumptious delicacies & visitors can get a peek at the people’s lifestyle there. Activities of the festival include mushroom picking excursions & 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 is held at the foothills of Mt. Jomolhari’s heels. Activities include a snow leopard show aiming in spreading awareness about the declining snow leopards.
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 are 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.
This is a yearly festival in Bhutan that is held in Bumthang (a 10-hour drive from Thimphu). In this event, the nomadic locals 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 and vibrant outfits that are enhanced by the surreal & lush-green surroundings.
Top 4 Important Bhutan Festivals
A yearly celebration happening in the Sakteng Valley. The valley is on the Eastern side of Bhutan & the semi-nomads that are 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.
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. Other activity you can do is trekking, and enjoying a hot spring baths 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 the 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.
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 that is creating awareness on protecting the endangered black-necked cranes.
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’s traditional dress and avoid wearing shorts, shorts skirts, or crop tops whenever you attend the festival. Additionally, important celebrations witness enormous visitors, and thus the accommodation during this time is always at a premium and scarce. 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.
Bhutan Festival Calendar 2023
|Trashi Yangtshe||April 5th|
Haa Summer Festival
|Haa Valley||July 13th|
|Thimphu||August 15th||August 16th|
|Tour of the Dragon (Bicycle Race)||Bumthang|
|Wangdue Phodrang||September 22nd||September 24th|
|Tamshing Phala Chhoepa||Bumthang||September 24th|
|Thimphu||September 24th||September 26th|
|Thangbi Mani||Bumthang||September 24th|
|Gangtey||September 27th||September 29th|
|Chhukha Tshechu||Chukha||November 06th|
|Bumthang||October 22nd||October 24th|
|Jhomolhari Mountain Festival||Thimphu||October 14th|
|Jambay Lhakhang Drup||Bumthang||October 28th|
|Bumthang||November 14th||November 16th|
|Royal Highland Festival||Gasa||October 23rd|
Bhutan Bird Festival
|Zhemgang||November 11th||November 13th|
|Black Necked Crane Festival||Wangdue Phodrang|
|Mongar||November 19th||November 22nd|
|Trashigang Tshechu||Trashigang||November 20th|
|Pemagatshel||October 20th||October 23rd|
|Nalakhar Tshechu||Bumthang||December 10th|
Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham
|Trongsa Tshechu||Trongsa||December 20th|
|Lhuentse||December 20th||December 22nd|
Druk Wangyel Tshechu
|Samdrupjongkhar Tshechu||Samdrup Jongkhar||December 24th|
|Nabji Lhakhang Drub||Trongsa||January 06th|
3 thoughts on “Bhutan Festivals – Top 14 Biggest Festivals Of Bhutan”
Top 5 Well-Worth Visting Festivals Of Bhutan
Love exploring the multicolored cultural festivals of the South Asian country? Love being a part of a festival in an entirely new country? Coming to Bhutan, you can either get into your time of life in the traditional festivals and get to know better about the culture of this South Asian country. Before planning yourself a trip to Bhutan, here are the top 5 attractive festivals in Bhutan that you might know to find out what you really love to go to.
1. Thimphu Tshechu Festival
One of the biggest festivals of Bhutan, this three-day festival, Thimphu Tshechu attracts thousands of travelers coming to visit per year by its unique cultural definition, giving a new look about the customs of a South Asian country. During the festival, visitors will indulge themselves in the atmosphere of spirit yet fun when monks perform some of the traditional dances like The Zhana Ngacham, The Tungam Chham, and the Durdag Cham.
2. Paro Tshechu Festival
Along with the Thimphu Tshechu, coming to Paro Tshechu, one of the largest and most eye-catching religious festival of Bhutan, tourists and local dwellers will surely be charmed by its vibrant atmosphere along with Cham dances (masked dances), and mind-boggling food as well. On the last day of the festival, a gorgeous painting called the Throngdrols is showed off by the monks. Legend has it that past mistakes would be cleaned off if one sees the Throngdrols.
3. Black Necked Crane Festival
Taking place on the autumn season, in the Pobhjikha valley, Black Necked Crane Festival was held with the aim of raising people’s awareness of the importance of natural protection. A precious bird, Black Necked Cane symbolizing the richness and wealth will be unveiled in the festival. During the time of the Back Necked Crane festival, visitors can participate in the fun atmosphere with the dances of children from manifold different schools.
4. Haa Summer Festival
Coming to A Summer Festival, a well-known summer festival of Bhutan, visitors surely get into the magnificent view of the Himalayan landscape. Also, this festival gives visitors a panoramic picture of the lives of Bhutanese as they can participate in some traditional sport like yak riding, enjoy the local dishes, or even dance with dwellers there following their antique folk songs.
5. Punakha Drubchen Festival
This unique Bhutanese’s festival in Punakha, a western part of Bhutan will give visitors a scene of the 17th century heroic Bhutan history when the local dweller militia encountered and defeated the invalid Tibetan army, bringing independence to the region. The Punakha Tsechu is celebrated right after this festival.
So if you are ready to experience new cultures, cuisines, and people in a South Asian country, Bhutan is the must to visit. It is a well-worth visiting destination.
Hi, I like to attend Paro Tshechu festival. Preferably on the day of vibrant masked dance and traditional music. Can you please provide the itinerary for 5 to 6 days including saturday and sunday. I am from Bangalore
Thanks for your request. Could you please check our email sent to you so that we can help you create your wonderful Paro Tshechu festival!
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