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Bhutan Festival Experience

In the crisp mountain air, hundreds of local Bhutanese people come together to celebrate their country, their religion, or 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 happy smiles are infectious, and the energy of the event buzzes with joy that is ever-present in the Dragon Kingdom.  

Bhutan has almost 200 festivals each year, ranging 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, as you 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, which can be used for the basis of a tour or added into another itinerary. Contact us for more information about other festivals in Bhutan, to incorporate a visit to one of these special events into your journey. 

 

Autumn Festival Highlights, September & October

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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 a traditional people living the way they have for centuries. 

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

 
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Jakar Tsechu 

Where: Jakar Dzong, Bumthang

When: Mid October  

What: Bumthang, in Bhutan's east, 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: Tailor-made tour to Bumthang

 
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Thimpu Tsechu

Where: Thimpu

When: Late September 

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, while dressed in elaborate costumes and masks to represent deities and gods from Buddhist lore. 

Goes best with: Any of our journeys in Bhutan

 
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Wangdue Tsechu

Where: Wangdue Phodrang

When: Mid September 

What: The vibrant colours and sounds of the tsechu brighten the usually quiet Wangdue Phodrang town 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: Tailor-made tour to Wangdue Phodrang

 

spring festival highlights, february, march & April

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Domkhar Tsechu

Where: Chumey, Bumthang

When: Late April  

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: Tailor-made tour to Bumthang

 
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Paro Tsechu

Where: Paro

When: Late March

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

Goes best with: Any of our journeys in Bhutan 

 
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Punakha Tsechu 

Where: Punakha Dzong

When: Late February 

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: Tailor-made tour to Punakha