The beautiful country of Tibet is a treasure trove of traditions and culture - attracting visitors from all over to join its many festivals. Many aspects of the country’s heritage are celebrated; the Khampas - nomadic horsemen - hold annual festivals to trade and race their steeds in a colorful carnival of excitement, while the country’s deep-rooted Buddhism is honored with events at monasteries throughout the year.
February 8 2016
Tibetans welcome the new year with fifteen days of celebration, the first three of which are most important. First, people clean and decorate their homes and monasteries where they perform rituals for protection. The second day is for contemplation and prayer and from the third day there is for eating, drinking and celebration.
February 25 2015
During the first month of the Tibetan calendar, Buddhist devotees visit the temples to pray, worship, burn incense and listen to scripture recitals. At this time, the monasteries’ greatest treasures are displayed, they are particularly spectacular in Jokhang and Labrang. The monks chant and perform ritual dances called Cham.
February 23 2016
This festival marks the end of the New Year celebrations throughout Tibet. It is a day of feasting and traditional dance and music is performed. Lamps made of yak butter are carved into the shapes of deities, flowers and animals and displayed in the middle of decorative shrines. On the day of the festival, the lamps are lit.
May 21 2016
Pilgrims and visitors from all over come to Lhasa for this important Buddhist festival celebrating Buddha’s enlightenment. The people make the nearly five-mile procession around the outskirts of the town, reciting scripture and bowing towards the Palace. In the afternoon, there’s singing, dancing and entertainment.
July 19 2016
This important Buddhist festival has been established for 500 years and is hugely popular with pilgrims from all over Tibet. For three days, the Tashilunpo monastery opens its grounds and displays a different Buddha each day. Finally, a giant painted mural is unveiled and there is a procession around the monastery compound.
July 19 2016
Buddhists flock to the monastery in Samye, the oldest in the country for this festival. People camp out around the compound, and there’s a great picnic with singing, dancing and chanting as they await the monks dressed in elaborate costumes who perform stories and legends. Later, devotees climb nearby mountains to burn incense and hang flags.
July 25-27 annually
Yushu (or Gyêgu) was a town ideally situated as a center for trade and was historically the home of the richest Tibetans in the country. Every year this three-day festival celebrates the wealth of the area with a carnival of colorful tents. Visitors flock to see exciting horse races and beautiful folk dance performances.
August 6 2016
This is one of the most important events in the Buddhist calendar, for which pilgrims from all over Tibet try to make the journey to Drepung Monastery. This day commemorates the first sermon given by Buddha regarding the four noble truths and because Buddhists believe that their actions on this day will be multiplied many times, they meditate.
August 1-3 annually
This three-day festival attracts nomadic Tibetan horsemen - or Khampas, and visitors from all over to Litang plain. There are exciting Tibetan pony races in which the riders and traders compete for the honor of owning the best horse. There are also performances, food and craft stalls and other sporting competitions for entertainment.
August 18 2016
One of Tibet’s greatest temples, Ganden Monastery is the destination for thousands of Buddhists and tourists every year for this special day. People gather early, to pray, pay homage to the holy relics and gather on surrounding hillsides to see the great unveiling of an enormous handwoven tapestry depicting Buddha.
August 14-20 2015 | August 2-8 2016
This week-long celebration is held to honor Lord Buddha with joyful festivities. Early in the morning, the people gather at Drepung monastery to watch the unveiling of a huge embroidered Thangka of Buddha. This is followed by picnics, games and opera performances in ‘The Jewelled Park’ and at night, there are great bonfires and parties.
August 2 2016
Drepung Monastery is one of Tibet’s most important seats of Buddhism and for three days each year, pilgrims travel from all around for this festival in its grounds. Prayers and offerings are made and the monks chant scriptures. Elaborate Cham dances are performed, depicting historical and religious stories and legends.