Bhutan Festival Experience

In the crisp mountain air, hundreds of local Bhutanese people come together to celebrate their country, their religion, and their unique culture. Their elaborate clothing is the same as has been worn by generations before them, a bloom of colourful brocade and patterned weave. Their smiles are infectious. The energy of the event buzzes with the joy that is ever-present in the Dragon Kingdom.  

Bhutan has almost 200 festivals (or tshechus) each year. These range from small local events in a single village to great celebrations in the major monasteries of Paro and Thimpu. Attending a festival in Bhutan is an experience like no other. You’ll have the opportunity to mingle with friendly local people and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of ancient Bhutanese culture. 

Below are some of our favourite Bhutanese festivals. They can be used as the basis of a tour or added to another itinerary. Contact us for more information about other festivals in Bhutan, and to incorporate a visit to one of these special events into your Bhutan vacation. 

 

spring festival highlights, february, march & April

 

Punakha Tsechu 

Where: Punakha Dzong

When: 5th to 7th March 2020 

What: A unique festival that recreates in dramatic fashion a historic battle between the Bhutanese and Tibetan armies that took place in the 17th century. Bhutan was victorious, marking the beginning of a new age of peace and stability for the country. 

Goes best with: Spirit of Bhutan Tour or Western Bhutan Walking Holiday

 

Paro Tsechu

Where: Paro

When: 4th to 8th April 2020

What: Monks and laypeople perform mesmerising symbolic dances in one of Bhutan's biggest annual festivals. Lasting for five days in the spring, the Paro Tsechu is a joy-filled celebration in the town and a highlight of the year in Bhutan. 

Goes best with: Any itinerary in Bhutan 

Black hat dance Hefu.JPG

Ura Yakehoe

Where: Bumthang

When: 4th to 8th May 2020

What: Known for its famous dancing, this colourful festival is held on Ura’s hilltop monastery. A key component of the 3-day proceedings is an ancient Buddhist statue of passed on from the generation to generation.

Goes best with: Bhutan Heart & Soul Tour or Central & Western Bhutan Walking Holiday

 

Domkhar Tsechu

Where: Chumey, Bumthang

When: 3rd to 5th May 2020  

What: For a very intimate, local experience of Bhutanese festivals, the best place to go is the countryside. Chumey is a tiny village off the beaten track in Bumthang, where you can be immersed in the Bhutanese lifestyle and traditions without the crowds. 

Goes best with: Bhutan Heart & Soul Tour or Central & Western Bhutan Walking Holiday


Autumn Festival Highlights, September & October

Wangdue Tsechu

Where: Wangdue Phodrang

When: 24th to 26th September 2020 

What: The vibrant colours and sounds of the Tsechu brighten the usually quiet town of Wangdue Phodrang for three days in autumn. See the giant thangka, a sacred Buddhist image, that's only shown once a year at this time.  

Goes best with: Spirit of Bhutan Tour or Western Bhutan Walking Holiday

 

Thimpu Tsechu

Where: Thimpu

When: 26th to 28th September 2020 

What: The Bhutanese capital's biggest festival is a Buddhist extravaganza attended by thousands of people from the neighbouring districts. Monks and laypeople perform sacred religious dances, dressed in elaborate costumes and masks to represent deities from Buddhist lore. 

Goes best with: Any tour in Bhutan

 
IMG_6856.JPG

Thangbi Mani

Where: Choekor, Bumthang

When: 29th Sept to 2nd October 2020

What: This colourful village festival can only be reached by foot. Masked dancers perform in the grounds of an ancient monastery founded in 1470. The highlight is the fire blessing (Mewang) ceremony where locals leap over flames to purify themselves.

Goes best with: Bhutan Heart & Soul Tour or Central & Western Bhutan Walking Holiday

 
1 Thimphu Fest.JPG

Gangtey Tshechu

Where: Phobjikha

When: 28th to 1st October 2020

What: The streets fill with colourful prayer flags during this 3-day festival and sacred masked dances are held in the large courtyard of Gangtey Goenpa monastery overlooking the fertile Phobjikha valley.

Goes best with: Bhutan Heart & Soul Tour or Central & Western Bhutan Walking Holiday

 
layap (2).jpg

Royal Highland Festival 

Where: Laya

When: Late October 

What: In the remote mountains of northwestern Bhutan, the Laya highland people showcase their unique culture and celebrate the highland lifestyle for two wonderful days. Only accessible by foot, this festival is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see people living the way they have for centuries. 

Goes best with: Laya Ghasa Trek, tailor-made tour to Punakha

 

Jakar Tsechu 

Where: Jakar Dzong, Bumthang

When: 23rd to 27th October  2020

What: Bumthang, in eastern Bhutan, is the cultural heartland of the country. Jakar Monastery's annual festival is a highlight in the area, a riot of colour and music for three days that enlivens the crowd in the otherwise quiet forested valleys of Bumthang. 

Goes best with: Bhutan Heart & Soul Tour or Central & Western Bhutan Walking Holiday