Festivals in Bhutan can be divided into three categories: traditional, non-religious, and religious. Most festivals in Bhutan are calculated according to the Bhutanese calendar, with the exception of National Day, King's Birthday, Enthronement Day, and other anniversaries. Therefore, festivals in Bhutan have different dates on the Gregorian calendar each year.
Festivals in Bhutan are grand events where the entire community comes together to witness religious performances, receive blessings, and socialize. Festivals in Bhutan are also great occasions for family reunions and socializing. People would dress in their best clothes, wear gorgeous coral and turquoise jewelry, pack food in traditional bamboo baskets and gather in dzongs or temples. In the center of the celebration, dancers sang traditional songs with beautiful melodies, while the audience chatted and laughed, drinking butter tea and intense barley wine.
The Bhutanese calendar has been in use for over 900 years since AD 1027. Bhutan's calendar generally evolved from the Chinese Tibetan calendar, which belongs to the lunisolar calendar. However, it is quite different from the algorithm of the Tibetan calendar, and the difference is always one or two days. The Bhutanese calendar takes the moon's time around the earth as January, with 12 months a year, 334 or 355 days a year, and 7 leap months in 19 years. Due to the influence of the religious death anniversary, some months have more days, while others have fewer days; some dates appear repeatedly within a month, and some dates do not appear once a month.
The chronology of the Bhutanese calendar is a cycle of 60 years, and the year number is formed by combining the heavenly stems "wood, fire, earth, iron, and water" with the 12 genera of the earthly branch. Years in the Bhutanese calendar are divided into feminine and masculine years, with odd-numbered years being masculine years and even-numbered years being feminine years. The auspicious days of Bhutan are generally the 8th, 15th, and 30th of the month; the auspicious days of the year are the summer solstice, the rain festival (usually in September), the winter solstice, the birthday of the Buddha, and the Buddha's first lecture. Day and the Tathagata Buddha explained the "Dharma" day to his mother.
Tshechus is the most important religious festival in Bhutan, commemorating the Buddhist monk Guru Rinpoche. Different regions are held at specific times of the year for 4 to 5 days. During the festival, Bhutanese usually hold prayer ceremonies and mask sword dance performances. The dance is performed by monks wearing various religious masks and bright traditional costumes, reproducing the gods and Buddhas they believe in in the world. Dances often tell stories of saints subduing demons or depict significant historical events. Bhutanese believe that watching the masked sword dance is a process of prayer and enlightenment. If you are fortunate enough to witness the grand ceremony of the Buddha exhibition in the early morning of the last day of the festival, it is considered to have accumulated immeasurable merits.
For more festivals in Bhutan in 2022-2023, click Bhutan festival calendar 2022.
Therefore, every Bhutanese wants to participate in at least one festival in their lifetime. If you travel to Bhutan, I hope you must also experience this traditional festival in Bhutan. During Bhutanese festivals, tourists must abide by Bhutan's smoking cessation regulations, and at the same time pay attention to politeness, not dancing, making loud noises, or watching and taking pictures.
October 1, 2022
The day-long Thimphu Drubchen festival (commonly known as Thimphu choe) dates back to the early 18th century. It was first proposed in 1710 by Kuenga Gyeltshen, the first reincarnation of Jampel Dorji, son of Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyel.
Held at Thimphu Tashichhodzong, a Buddhist monastery that has been the seat of government since 1952, Drubchen showcased a tribute to Palden Lhamo, the chief patron of Bhutan's sacred mask dance. Legend has it that the god Pelden Lhamo appeared to Kuenga Gyeltshen and performed a dance while he meditated. Based on these dances, Kungarjantshin initiated the Drubchen ceremony.
October 3, 2022-October 5, 2022
Wangdue Tshechu is a three-day mask and folk dance festival founded by the fourth ruler of Bhutan, Mr. Tenzing Labjay (1638-1696), to commemorate the birth of Guru Rinpoche. Tshechu features the dance of monks and laypeople, and on the last day, displays the huge and colorful thangka, a silk painting with embroidery. In June 2012, the annual Wangduephodrang Tshechu was held in Wangdue Dzong, and sadly it burned down. That year it was relocated to the Tencholing Military Training Centre. Fortunately, plans and support for Wangduzong's reconstruction have already begun.
October 5, 2022-October 7, 2022
Tamshing Phala Choepa is a festival in Bhutan held at the Tamshing Monastery in Bumthang and hosted by Ringpoche, the 11th incarnation of Pema Lingpa. Thanxing Monastery belongs to the Ningma sect of Buddhism. Cultural festivals featuring mask dance, "Dance of the Deer and the Hunter" and "Dance of the Three Gingers", Tamshing Phala Choepa as a festival influences you significantly. The dance also brings luck and happiness to all participants, as well as, removes their misfortune.
Tamshing Phala Choepa
December 1, 2022-December 3, 2022
The festival takes place in the courtyard of Trashigang Dzong, which sits on a cliff overlooking two rivers. Pilgrims gather on the edge, and monks look out from balconies on the first and second floors. From these balconies, there are stunning views of Trashigang. As monks perform their dances, their swirling robes act like spinning tops on the stone-paved floor. Pilgrims depart from the Indian border and Brokpas (a semi-nomadic community) from Merak and Sakteng.
December 1, 2022-December 3, 2022
The Mongar area in eastern Bhutan is known for its fine wood carvings and is known as the "Zhongarps Fort". Every November, it hosts a splendid and colorful three-day Tshechu event, witnessed by people from as far away as Trashigang and Lhuentse. Offering numerous mask dances, the festival is one of the most important events the region has to offer.
December 13, 2022
Druk Wangyel Tshechu is a unique festival held by the Royal Bhutanese Army rather than monks or lays people. This is a tribute to the wise leadership of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the fourth King of Bhutan. It also celebrates the continued efforts of the Royal Bhutan Army in protecting the country's sovereignty and stability. This is a unique Tshechu performed against the backdrop of the majestic Jigme Singye Wangchuck Mountains.
Druk Wangyel Tshechu
BhutanTrip.com is the most reliable travel agency in Bhutan, operating group tours in Bhutan, as well as the best travel services for solo travelers and group travel budgets. We can help you find the right travel partner and share the cost of guides, vehicles, drivers and accommodation in Bhutan. With more travel buddies, you can reduce your travel costs while meeting new friends from all over the world, adding an added bonus to your Bhutan experience. If you want to experience unforgettable travel and colorful festivals in Bhutan, you are welcome to contact us anytime.
Working Hours: 08:00-23:00
Thank you for your inquiry, you’ll get our reply within 6-8 hours.