Bhutan Festivals Calendar 2016


Festivals in the Land of the Thunder Dragon are rich and happy expressions of its ancient Buddhist culture. These festivals are held in all districts in honour of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Tsechus are held on auspicious days and months in the Bhutanese calendar, and last up to four days in which a series of highly stylised masked dance rituals are performed.

Festivals are also a big family and social occasion. People dress up in their finest clothes and most resplendent jewelry of coral and turquoise. They pack picnic lunches in their traditional bamboo baskets and stay all day at the festivals which are usually held in the dzongs (fortresses) or at monasteries.

Behind the scenes, the monks prepare themselves for weeks ahead of the festival, involved in deep prayer and meditation prior to the festival. The monks perform special masked dances that are inspirations of enlightened beings in history; and the Bhutanese believe that watching these mystical dances is essential to gain enlightenment.


All Bhutanese try to attend a festival at least once in a lifetime, and for many, it is an important annual affair where they consider it a blessing to be able to watch the dances. Apart from the monks, community dancers also participate in the local festivals.

The tsechus are a rich form of the oral history tradition where the Bhutanese pass on values, mythology and spiritual beliefs through the dance dramas. Many of the tsechus culminate with a rare display of a giant silk applique thangkha (painting) depicting Guru Padmasambava or some other important Buddhist deity.

People’s deep faith and devotion make these festivals a special occasion. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to join hundreds, and even thousands, of Bhutanese in taking part in an important religious and social occasion that often exudes a carnival atmosphere.


Bhutan Festival by popularity

Paro and Thimphu Festivals are by far the most popular festivals in Bhutan. There are two main reasons why they are so popular. Firstly, they are located in the Western part of Bhutan, an hour drive away from the airport. So it is possible for you to do a four days visit just to attend the festival. If the festival is taking place in Eastern Bhutan, you would have to visit Bhutan for a minimum of 10 days. Secondly, Paro and Thimphu Festivals take place in spring and autumn respectively, 2 of the best seasons to visit Bhutan.

Three years ago, we would usually recommend travelers to books at least six months before their travel dates. With the growing number of hotels in Bhutan, we can usually accommodate travelers on last minute notice. However, do note that experienced guides are in high demand during this period. If you do have some flexibility with your travel schedule, we would recommend going for less popular festivals.

What if you can’t catch the festival?

Preparation for the festivals starts weeks before the festival itself. If you are in Bhutan but won’t be able to catch the festival, do visit the Dzong, and you may be able to catch the monks practicing and preparing the material for the festival. This is a great photo opportunity since the materials used for prayer are colourful. This visit can be a meaningful opportunity if you have caught the festival somewhere; you have the chance to see the faces behind the masks and spend time speaking to the monks on the origin and meaning of the festival.


Source: Tourism Council of Bhutan


Name Town Start Date End Date
Punakha Drubchen Punakha Feb 13, 2016 Feb 16, 2016
Punakha Tshechu Punakha Feb 17, 2016 Feb 19, 2016
Tharpaling Thongdrol Bumthang Feb 22, 2016
Chhorten Kora Trashi Yangtse Feb 22, 2016 Mar 09, 2016
Gasa Tshechu Gasa Mar 14, 2016 Mar 18, 2016
Zhemgang Tshechu Zhemgang Mar 15, 2016 Mar 19, 2016
Talo Tshechu Punakha Mar 16, 2016 Mar 18, 2016
Gomphukora Trashigang Mar 16, 2016 Mar 18, 2016
Paro Tshechu Paro Mar 19, 2016 Mar 23, 2016
Domkhar Tshechu Bumthang Apr 16, 2016 Apr 18, 2016
Rhododendron Festival Thimphu Apr 18, 2016 Apr 20, 2016
Ura Yakchoe Bumthang Apr 18, 2016 Apr 20, 2016
Nimalung Tshechu Bumthang Jun 13, 2016 Jun 15, 2016
Kurjey Tshechu Bumthang Jun 15, 2016
Masutaki Mushroom Bumthang Aug 22, 2016 Aug 23, 2016
Tour of the Dragon (Bicycle Race) Bumthang Sep 03, 2016
Thimphu Drubchen Thimphu Oct 06, 2016 Oct 10, 2016
Wangdue Tshechu Wangdue Phodrang Oct 09, 2016 Oct 11, 2016
Tamshing Phala Chhoepa Bumthang Oct 11, 2016 Oct 13, 2016
Thimphu Tshechu Thimphu Oct 11, 2016 Oct 13, 2016
Gangtey Tshechu Gangtey Oct 14, 2016 Oct 16, 2016
Thangbi Mani Bumthang Oct 15, 2016 Oct 17, 2016
Jumolhari Mountain Festival Whole Bhutan Oct 25, 2016 Oct 26, 2016
Jakar Tshechu Bumthang Nov 07, 2016 Nov 09, 2016
Chhukha Tshechu Chukha Nov 07, 2016 Nov 09, 2016
Black-Necked Crane Festival Wangdue Phodrang Nov 11, 2016
Pemagatshel Tshechu Pemagatshel Nov 12, 2016 Nov 14, 2016
Jambay Lhakhang Drup Bumthang Nov 14, 2016 Nov 17, 2016
Prakhar Duchhoed Bumthang Nov 15, 2016 Nov 17, 2016
Mongar Tshechu Mongar Dec 05, 2016 Dec 09, 2016
Trashigang Tshechu Trashigang Dec 08, 2016 Dec 10, 2016
Nalakhar Tshechu Bumthang Dec 13, 2016 Dec 15, 2016
Druk Wangyel Tshechu Thimphu Dec 13, 2016
Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham Bumthang Dec 13, 2016