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Highlights of the Tibetan Festival Year

Tibetan New Year or Losar - February 05, 2019
Losar is celebrated for the first 15 days of Tibetan year. It is one of the oldest and most important festivals of the Tibetan calendar. People begin to prepare one month in advance and generally start to celebrate it two days before the new year. The festival mixes the sacred and the secular - prayers, ceremonies, hanging prayer flags, folk performances, visiting friends, exchanging gifts, sharing meals & drink.

Nyingchi Peach Blossom Festival -Late -March to Mid-April
Though unexhausted chill might hit Nyingchi in March now and then, Nyingchi has become a sea of peach blossoms. The beautiful peach blossoms and the snow-capped Namjagbarwa in distance form fascinating scenery in Nyingchi. Looking at a distance, it appears that snowy mountains are embracing huge layers of pink clouds. Western tourists are not currently permitted in this area.

Tsurphu Festival - June 12-14, 2019 (to be confirmed)
Held at Tsurphu Monastery, just 70kms from Lhasa. During this festival religious Cham dances are performed and a huge Thangka is unveiled.

Gyantse Horse Racing Festival - July 20-25, 2019 (to be confirmed)
The fun and games includes dancing, yak races, archery and equestrian events. A large 480-year old thangka is unfurled at sunrise.

Saga Dawa Festival - June 9, 2017
Saga Dawa marks the date of Sakyamuni Buddha's conception, enlightenment and entry into nirvana. Huge numbers of pilgrims walk Lhasa’s lingkhor circuit. It is also a particularly sacred time to visit Mount Kailash, where the huge pole supporting thousands of prayer flags is raised anew with fresh flags.

Tashilhunpo Festival - July 15-17, 2019
Shigatse’s Tashilumpo Festival is a great occasion popular among both Tibetans and tourists. Each day a huge thangkha is unveiled depictig the Past, Present & Future Buddhas. Ccham dances are also performed .

Samye and Tradruk Cham Festival - July 16, 2019 (to be confirmed)
Universal Incense Offering Day. Cham dancing takes place at both Samye and Tradruk monasteries for two or three days in the 5th Tibetan lunar month. Tibetans go to the tops of local mountains to burn incense and hang prayer flags then picnic, sing, and dance in parks and monastery surrounds

Choerkor Dhuchen Festival -
This festival commemorates the Buddha Shakyamuni's first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi in India; when he first taught the four noble truths and first turned the wheel of the dharma. Many pilgrims climb the ridge from Pabonka to the Dode Valley to burn the incense.

Ganden thangka Festival
On that day Ganden monastery displays its 25 holiest relics, which are normally locked away. A large offering ceremony accompanies the unveiling ceremony of the giant thangka.

Nagqu Horse Racing Festival
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival is a grand event in the town 330kms north of Lhasa. August is the golden season on the vast grasslands of Nagqu Prefecture and the festival is a time when Tibetans enjoy horse & yak racing, dancing, singing, picnics and games.

Shotun Festival - August 30, 2019
Early in the morning, Drepung and Sera monasteries will respectively hang a huge thangka. After the thangka unveiling ceremony. Later Tibetans will go to the Norbulingkha and other parks to watch Tibetan opera and dancing performances and enjoy a picnic with their families.

Festival of Buddha's Descent from Heaven -
During this time there are a large number of pilgrims in Lhasa. Ladders are painted afresh on rocks around many monasteries to symbolize the event.

Pelhe Doenchar or Palden Lhamo Festival -
A float of Tibet’s protector deity Palden Lhamo is paraded through the city and women pray for a satisfactory marriage each year.

Ganden Ngamchoe or Tsongkha pa festival - December 11, 2019
Tibetans show respect for Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. In remembrance of Tsongkhapa all the monasteries and households light yak butter lamps.

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