Here we introduce tip 5 festivals in Bhutan and arrange them in the order of the Gregorian calendar. With this information, you can add relevant festivals to your Bhutan tour.
1. Thimphu Tshechu Festival
Where: Tashichho Dzong, Thimphu
Thimphu Tsechu is one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan. It is held in Bhutan capital and attracts thousands of locals and tourists. Traditionally, before the beginning of the Tsechu festival, people would recite the scriptures day and night, hold various ceremonies, and pray for the blessings of the gods; during this period, there are also various mask dances, such as “Eight Manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava” dance and Stag dance. For farmers, it is also regarded as a leisure day. This is an occasion to celebrate, bless, and pray for health and happiness.
2. The Annual Black-Necked Crane Festival
When: 11th, November
Where: Phobjikha Valley, Wangdue Phodrang
This festival is held in the courtyard of Gangtey Gompa courtyard of the Phobjikha Valley. During this fascinating festival, local children dressed in crane costumes danced to celebrate the winter return of more than 300 black-necked cranes.
Every year, the black-necked cranes migrate from the Tibetan Plateau to Phobjikha Valley to spend the winter. The locals hold the “Black-necked Crane Festival” to deepen people’s understanding of the importance of protecting the endangered animals, and to show the locals’ cultural heritage and excellence.
3. Jambay Lhakhang Drup 9
Where: Jambay Lhakhang, Jakar, Bumthang
Jambay Lhakhang festival is a five-day event. Jambay Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in the Bhutan Kingdom. It was built in the 7th century by King Songtsan Gambo of Tibet to spread Buddhism. People commemorate the establishment of this 7th-century temple through passionate cham dances and bonfires. The famous midnight “Naked Fire Dance” will be held the night before the festival. This festival lasts from the 15th to the 18th of the ninth month of the Bhutan lunar calendar, and the Gregorian calendar may be in November.
4. Trongsa Tshechu 10
Where: Trongsa Dzong, Trongsa
Trongsa Tsechu Festival is one of the oldest festivals in Bhutan and one of the rarest tourists. The three-day dance is performed from the ninth to the eleventh of November in the Bhutan lunar calendar, so the time may be in January of the Gregorian calendar. A huge thangka will be shown on the last day.
5. Punakha Drubchen and Tshechu
Where: Punakha Dzong, Punakha
Mask Dance (Cham Dance), a religious ceremonial dance, is one of the main features of the Tshechu Festival celebration. Dancers usually wear wooden masks representing animals, terrifying gods, and various manifestations of Padmasambhava. The most distinctive mask represents the expression of anger shown by Padmasambhava in order to tame harmful gods.
Mask dances are performed by monks and ordinary believers. They wear traditional masks and costumes. They use dances to depict events in the life of the Buddhist monk Padmasambhava, mainly describing the victory of good over evil. Bhutanese believe that by watching the dance, they can be blessed, enlightened, and purified.
This unique event was held in February when the climate of Punakha Valley was warm. The highlight was the grand performance of a 17th-century battle, where hundreds of warriors in costumes appeared. Bhutan festival is organized according to the Bhutanese calendar, so it may also start in March.