Festivals in Bhutan

Festivals in Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan, witnesses a plethora of events and unique festival, at various times of the year. While there are numerous unique events such as a literary festival, an international marathon, international biking race and more, however, the most important event takes place in the form of Annual Festivals or Tshechus.

The Tshechu are celebrated to commemorate ‘good triumphs over evil' or to depict significant historical events especially surrounding the life of Bhutan's patron saint, Guru Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche). The colorful event draws as much as 3000 people and there is inevitably a great deal of socializing. It is an opportunity for people to relax and forget daily routine, to dress in their finest clothes and jewelry but, more importantly, it is an occasion for prayer and blessings. Bhutan's artistic culture is also at its best during these events, where religious prayers, satire, etc are depicted via the famous mask dances. Almost all the districts have their own Tshechu, however, the most important Tshechu are Punakha festival, Paro Festival, and Thimphu Festival. These events are undeniably the most important events of the year, where Bhutan's colorful and in-depth culture is manifested. Families get together and picnic by the festival grounds.Festivals in Bhutan are held in a solemn atmosphere and while there is much merriment, however, visitors are reminded that it is still a religious festival of great importance to Bhutanese people hence appropriate behavior and a proper dress code is required.

Many exciting events take place throughout the country every year. These events are colourful with Bhutanese donning their best national attire. It is also where Bhutanese come together as family in celebration.

Festivals and events are spread across the year. The list below highlights, plethora of events and activities in the kingdom, around which, a tour to Bhutan can be built. Besides the festivals, the Tourism council of Bhutan also organizes specialized events such as Nomads festival, Matsutake Festival, Jumolhari mountain festival, Tour of the dragon bicycle race and Rhododendron Festival. Scroll through our events lists to find a suitable program.

Festival in Phobjikha

Gangtey Drubchen

Drubchen is a fascinating practice of meditation in Tibetan Buddhism. The practice of this deep meditation (often associated with a retreat for seven-ten days) is thought to have powerful effects in ridding the world of evil, especially when the festival is in full attendance. These prayers will be chanted for 24 hours a day for eight days. You will also see masked dances and other rituals related to the Drubchen being performed.

Festivals in Bumthang

Buli Mani

Buli Mani Festival is held in a small temple in the Chhume Valley, Bumthang. The festival is held every two years on the 16th day of the first month of the Bhutanese calendar.

Jakar Tsechu, Bumthang

This thrilling five-day event is a relatively new festival begun by the Monastic Body of Jakar. It is held within the Jakar Dzong and it includes celebratory masked dances and folk songs.

Jambay Lakhang Drup

This festival is held over four days in one of the most ancient temples of Bhutan, built in the 7th century. The festival honours Guru Rinpoche (the man held responsible for spreading tantric or Tibetan Buddhism) as well as the founding of the temple itself.

This festival is well known for the sacred naked dance performed in the courtyard of the temple at midnight – although it is not permitted for tourists to attend. A fire dance is also held in the evening to bless infertile women, hoping that this will help them to bear children.

Prakhar Dushoed

This small festival is held in the Prakhar Monastery in the Chumey Valley, about 30 minutes’ drive from Jakar. It is more low key than most other festivals but can be a nice addition to a trip to Bhutan, especially if you are travelling through to Trongsa from Jakar because you can stop here en route.

Sumdrang Kangsol

This is a small festival held in Ura near Bumthang in the 9th month of the Bhutanese calendar. You will see masked dances and hear local folk songs.

Tamshingphala Cheopa

This festival is held in the Tamshing Monastery in the Bumthang Valley. The festival itself celebrates the temple’s link the Bhutanese Saint Pema Lingpa.

Tang Nabkha Rabney

This celebration lasts for three days and it is performed for peace and prosperity. It also commemorates the founding of the temple Namkha Lhakhang.

Thangbi Mani

This is one of the most popular festivals in Bhutan, famous for the fire dance held in the courtyard of the monastery as well as the purification rituals performed here.

Festival in Punakha

Punakha Dromache and Tsechu

This celebration lasts for five days with two days, devoted to Drubchen (the practice of deep meditation thought to rid the world of evil) followed by three days for the Tsechu.

The Drubchen is unusual because it seeks to re-enact the Tibetan invasion of Bhutan to steal its most precious relic. A man named Shabdrung pretended to throw this relic into the river, making the Tibetan army retreat.

During the festival, a procession of monks walk down to the river and throw a handful or oranges into the running water to symbolise the relic and to re-enact this important event in Bhutanese history.

Talo Tsechu

This is held in a village in the hills above Punakha at an altitude of 9,1080 feet (2,800 m). You will enjoy stunning views over the mountains as well as experiencing the joy of a local festival.

Festival in Paro

Paro Tsechu

Paro Tsechu is one of the most popular events in the Bhutanese calendar, as well as being one of the most well attended by tourists and local people. The festival is held over four days, with the first day beginning in the courtyard of the Dzong and the last day ending with the unveiling of the sacred Thanka (silk painting).

This is unveiled before dawn to ensure that it is not damaged by the sunlight. It is considered a blessing if you are able to see the sacred Thanka with your own eyes. Throughout the festival there are masked dances and songs, creating a lively atmosphere.

Festival in Thimpu

Thimpu Drubchen

The annual Thimpu Druchen is famous for the masked dance performed here to appease and protect one of the key deities of Bhutan, Pelden Lhamo. This is a well-attended festival that will light up the atmosphere of this otherwise quiet capital.

Thimpu Tsechu

This festival is held over a four-day period and it is held to commemorate Guru Rinpoche (a figure known for the spread of Tantric or Tibetan Buddhism). This is a well- attended festival that will light up the atmosphere of this otherwise quiet capital.

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