Festivals and Events
Steeped in mystery, Bhutan was off the travel radar for centuries before opening its arms to visitors and sharing its fascinating history and traditions with the world. Nothing showcases the beauty and wonder of Bhutanese culture better than its array of festivals, which bring the country to life and fill the streets with colour and music. To help you make the most of your time in Bhutan, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite festivals.
This religious festival takes place across the country but is of particular note in the city of Paro. The event is held in a temple or monastery and sees entire communities come together to watch mask dances and other various forms of entertainment. These dances all tell a story and are a fine example of Bhutan’s rich oral traditions. It is believed that by attending a Tshechu
and witnessing the mask dance, an individual will receive blessings and wash away their sins.
According to legend, there was once an old woman sitting outside her house when a lama visited her and asked for a drink of water. She went to get one and when she returned he had disappeared, leaving behind him a sack containing a statue. This statue is now displayed every year so that people can receive blessings, and the local people celebrate by performing the ‘Ura Yakchoe’, a dance for which they are known throughout the country.
The Nimalung Festival is hosted within a magnificent two storey temple that contains a statue of the Guru Rimpoche
and is decorated with elaborate murals of Nyingmapa and Drukpa traditions. During the festivities, a stunning Thongdrol (gigantic hand-painted scroll) of Guru Rimpoche is displayed for everyone to see. Measuring nine by twelve metres, this colossal painting is said to cleanse those who gaze upon it of their sins.
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Tour of the Dragon
Not for the faint-hearted, this is one of the toughest single day bike events
in the world. Set at high altitude and covering a distance of 268km through mountain passes, to say that this race is a challenge is putting it mildly. Racers set off at 2am and usually reach the final destination in Thimphu by about 6pm, where there is an awards ceremony at 7pm. Do you have what it takes to compete in this adrenaline pumping event?
Jomolhari Mountain Festival
What started as a small community initiative has grown into a significant event on the Bhutanese calendar as the Jomolhari Mountain Festival has gained popularity. Its purpose is to promote awareness of the elusive and endangered snow leopard
in order to prevent it from potential extinction. Festivities that take place during the day include sports, snow leopard themed folk songs, dancing and showcasing locally made handicrafts.
Black Necked Crane Festival
The Black Necked Crane Festival is a significant festival in Bhutan that was created in order to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of conserving these majestic birds. Plays, dances and songs are all performed by local children and adults as the community celebrates the arrival of the bird that plays a major role in their lives during the winter months.