Bhutan Festivals Calendar 2017

Posted on 07/September/2015

Festivals in the Land of the Thunder Dragon are rich and happy expressions of its ancient Buddhist culture. These festivals are held in all districts in honour of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Tsechus are held on auspicious days and months in the Bhutanese calendar, and last up to four days in which a series of highly stylised masked dance rituals are performed.
 
Festivals are also a big family and social occasions. People dress up in their finest clothes and most resplendent jewelry of coral and turquoise. They pack picnic lunches in their traditional bamboo baskets and stay all day at the festivals which are usually held in the dzongs (fortresses) or at monasteries.
 
Behind the scenes, the monks prepare themselves for weeks ahead of the festival, involved in deep prayer and meditation prior to the festival. The monks perform special masked dances that are inspirations of enlightened beings in history; and the Bhutanese believe that watching these mystical dances is essential to gain enlightenment.
 
 monks prepare themselves for weeks ahead of the festival
 
All Bhutanese try to attend a festival at least once in a lifetime, and for many, it is an important annual affair where they consider it a blessing to be able to watch the dances. Apart from the monks, community dancers also participate in the local festivals.
 
The tsechus are a rich form of the oral history tradition where the Bhutanese pass on values, mythology and spiritual beliefs through the dance dramas. Many of the tsechus culminate with a rare display of a giant silk applique thangkha (painting) depicting Guru Padmasambava or some other important Buddhist deity.
 
People’s deep faith and devotion make these festivals a special occasion. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to join hundreds, and even thousands, of Bhutanese in taking part in an important religious and social occasion that often exudes a carnival atmosphere.
 
bhutan festivals

Bhutan Festival by popularity

 
Paro and Thimphu Festivals are by far the most popular festivals in Bhutan. There are two main reasons why they are so popular. Firstly, they are located in the Western part of Bhutan, an hour drive away from the airport. So it is possible for you to do a four days visit just to attend the festival. If the festival is taking place in Eastern Bhutan, you would have to visit Bhutan for a minimum of 10 days. Secondly, Paro and Thimphu Festivals take place in spring and autumn respectively, 2 of the best seasons to visit Bhutan.
 
Three years ago, we would usually recommend travelers to books at least six months before their travel dates. With the growing number of hotels in Bhutan, we can usually accommodate travelers on last minute notice. However, do note that experienced guides are in high demand during this period. If you do have some flexibility with your travel schedule, we would recommend going for less popular festivals.
 

What if you can’t catch the festival?

Preparation for the festivals starts weeks before the festival itself. If you are in Bhutan but won’t be able to catch the festival, do visit the Dzong, and you may be able to catch the monks practicing and preparing the material for the festival. This is a great photo opportunity since the materials used for prayer are colourful. This visit can be a meaningful opportunity if you have caught the festival somewhere; you have the chance to see the faces behind the masks and spend time speaking to the monks on the origin and meaning of the festival.

 

 
 

SourceTourism Council of Bhutan


Click here for 2018 festival calendar




Name Town Start Date End Date
Punakha Drubchen Punakha Mar 04, 2017 Mar 06, 2017
Punakha Tshechu Punakha Mar 07, 2017 Mar 09, 2017
Tharpaling Thongdrol Bumthang Mar 12, 2017
Chhorten Kora Trashi Yangtse Mar 12, 2017 Mar 28, 2017
Gasa Tshechu Gasa Apr 03, 2017 Apr 06, 2017
Zhemgang Tshechu Zhemgang Apr 04, 2017 Apr 07, 2017
Talo Tshechu Punakha Apr 04, 2017 Apr 06, 2017
GOMPHUKORA Trashi Yangtse Apr 04, 2017 Apr 06, 2017
Paro Tshechu Paro Apr 07, 2017 Apr 11, 2017
Chhukha Tshechu Chukha Apr 09, 2017 Apr 11, 2017
Rhododendron Festival Thimphu Apr 14, 2017 Apr 16, 2017
Domkhar Tshechu Bumthang May 05, 2017 May 07, 2017
Ura Yakchoe Bumthang May 07, 2017 May 10, 2017
Nimalung Tshechu Bumthang Jul 01, 2017 Jul 03, 2017
Kurjey Tshechu Bumthang Jul 03, 2017
Haa Summer Festival Haa Valley Jul 05, 2017
Mushroom Festival Thimphu Aug 15, 2017 Aug 16, 2017
Masutaki Mushroom Festival Bumthang Aug 23, 2017 Aug 24, 2017
Thimphu Drubchen Thimphu Sep 26, 2017 Sep 29, 2017
Wangdue Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Sep 28, 2017 Sep 30, 2017
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Bumthang Sep 29, 2017 Oct 01, 2017
Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu Sep 30, 2017 Oct 02, 2017
Gangtey Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Oct 03, 2017 Oct 05, 2017
Thangbi Mani Bumthang Oct 04, 2017 Oct 06, 2017
Jumolhari Mountain Festival Thimphu Oct 14, 2017 Oct 15, 2017
Royal Highland Festival Gasa Oct 23, 2017 Oct 24, 2017
Jakar Tshechu Bumthang Oct 29, 2017 Oct 31, 2017
Dechenphu Tshechu Bumthang Oct 30, 2017
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Bumthang Nov 04, 2017 Nov 06, 2017
Prakhar Duchhoed Bumthang Nov 05, 2017 Nov 06, 2017
Black Necked Crane Festival Wangdue Phodrang Nov 11, 2017
Mongar Tshechu Mongar Nov 26, 2017 Nov 28, 2017
Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel Nov 26, 2017 Nov 28, 2017
Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang Nov 27, 2017 Nov 29, 2017
Jambay Lakhang Singye Cham Bumthang Dec 03, 2017
Nalakhar Tshechu Bumthang Dec 03, 2017 Dec 05, 2017
Druk Wangyel Tshechu Thimphu Dec 13, 2017
Trongsa Tshechu Trongsa Dec 26, 2017 Dec 28, 2017
Lhuentse Tshechu Lhuentse Dec 26, 2017 Dec 28, 2017
Legend
Festival
Public Holiday
Exhibition
Film
Others

Planning to travel to Bhutan during a festival?

On popular dates of travel such as during festival time, flight tickets tend to get fully reserved 5 months prior. Due to limited flight and seats available, we recommend you to reserve your ticket as early as possible. You can reserve your ticket for free with us and plan your trip to Bhutan with a peace of mind knowing that you will have a spot on your flight to Bhutan.