Bhutan Festivals Calendar 2018

Posted on 28/February/2017

 
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

 




Name Town Start Date End Date
Punakha Drubchen Punakha Feb 22, 2018 Feb 24, 2018
Punakha Tshechu Punakha Feb 25, 2018 Feb 27, 2018
Chhorten Kora Trashi Yangtse Mar 02, 2018 Mar 17, 2018
Gomphukora Trashigang Mar 24, 2018 Mar 26, 2018
Paro Tshechu Paro Mar 27, 2018 Mar 31, 2018
Chhukha Tshechu Chukha Mar 29, 2018 Mar 31, 2018
Rhododendron Festival Thimphu Apr 20, 2018 Apr 22, 2018
Ura Yakchoe Bumthang Apr 27, 2018 Apr 29, 2018
Nimalung Tshechu Bumthang Jun 21, 2018 Jun 23, 2018
Kurjey Tshechu Bumthang Jun 23, 2018
Thimphu Drubchen Thimphu Sep 15, 2018 Sep 18, 2018
Wangdue Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Sep 17, 2018 Sep 19, 2018
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Bumthang Sep 19, 2018 Sep 21, 2018
Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu Sep 19, 2018 Sep 21, 2018
Thangbi Mani Bumthang Sep 23, 2018 Sep 25, 2018
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Bumthang Oct 24, 2018 Oct 27, 2018
Prakhar Duchhoe Bumthang Oct 25, 2018 Oct 27, 2018
Black Necked Crane Festival Wangdue Phodrang Nov 11, 2018
Mongar Tshechu Mongar Nov 16, 2018 Nov 18, 2018
Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel Nov 16, 2018 Nov 18, 2018
Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang Nov 17, 2018 Nov 19, 2018
Nalakhar Tshechu Bumthang Nov 23, 2018 Nov 25, 2018
Druk Wangyel Tshechu Thimphu Dec 13, 2018
Lhuentse Tshechu Lhuentse Dec 15, 2018 Dec 17, 2018
Trongsa Tshechu Trongsa Dec 15, 2018 Dec 17, 2018
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.