Bhutan is overwhelming with cultural activities, no matter when you plan to travel to Bhutan. In particular, visit during festivals to enjoy a colorful phase of your vacation. Every month, Bhutan holds at least one cultural festival or celebration. According to experts, it is best to visit Bhutan during any local festival. However, not all festivals are celebrated with the same zeal. Here are the top ten festivals in Bhutan that are best visited to enjoy a colorful vacation.
Date : 7th Oct 2019 - 9th Oct 2019
This is the iconic celebration of the land. This festival brings thousands of locals together for this three-day festival. Locals wear traditional attire and enjoy dancing and other cultural activities in Tahichhodzong fortress’ courtyard. The cultural activities include the iconic masked dance. The festival has been in their culture since 19th century. Top dances to enjoy in this festival are 21 black hat dance, dance of angry deities, dance of cremation ground and so on. This festival is celebrated on the 10th day of 8th month of lunar calendar, which falls in September or October.
Date : 17th Mar 2019 - 21th Mar 2019
This is the spring festival, where you can find monks and laymen celebrating the festival, together. Locals wear very colorful dresses and some wear costumes too. Masks are worn to represent demons and Gods, when they enact mythological stories of Buddhism. The best part of the festival is the display of a religious scroll, which is around four-storey high and 350 years old. This festival is usually celebrated in March.
Jambay Lhakhang Drup
Date : 13th Nov 2019 - 16th Nov 2019
This is no different from the other cultural festivals. It is enjoyed with mask dances, rituals and other ceremonies. However, this festival is celebrated in a grander version than other festivals. This festival’s iconic celebration is the fire ceremony, in which the locals run beneath a flaming gate, made with dry grasses. Dance of Treasure is another unique attraction of the festival. In this festival, the masked dancers perform an unique dance at the middle of the night, naked. This dance is said to bless infertile women to bear children.
Date : 15th Feb 2019 - 17th Feb 2019
This festival is a re-enactment of 17th century battle of Bhutan against Tibet. The local militiamen of Bhutan dress up as either parties of the war and re-enact the war. This festival is celebrated to remember the bravery of small Bhutan villages, who came forward to drive away the Tibetan army. Punakha Tshechu festival is celebrated immediately after this celebration. Tourists are not generally allowed to be a part of this enactment.
This festival is famous for two important elements. The first is the stunning location in which the festival is celebrated. This festival is celebrated in the lush valley of Haa, where you can enjoy the colorful culture of nomadic herders. The second element of this festival is the traditional culture, which is represented by this festival. Numerous local games are conducted during this festival. Tourists are also welcome to take part in local games like yak riding, dancing and others. A grand feast will be conducted during this festival and it is the best time to enjoy the local cuisine.
Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu
Date : 5th Oct 2019 - 07th Oct 2019
The festival gets its name from the region where it is celebrated, Wangdue Phodrang. This festival is famous for local songs and ornamental speeches named Lozeys. This is an annual festival celebrated since 17th century. Numerous tourists visit Bhutan right in time for this festival to enjoy the Dance of Ox. This dance is said to ensure a blissful afterlife. You can also find numerous other celebrations during the three days’ time. The festival ends with unrolling gigantic religious scrolls.
Date : 12th June 2019 - 16th June 2019
This is the right time to visit Bhutan for religious trips. This festival is all about religion. The festival is celebrated in Sakten Valley of Eastern Bhutan. Locals visit this festival wearing traditional clothing. The visitors are served with ara, a local wine. You can find numerous dance performances during this festival. The best of all are the Yak dance and Ache Lhamo.
Date : 23rd Aug 2019 - 24th Aug 2019
If you are a foodie, this is the right festival for you. This is the food festival of Bhutan, which attracts numerous tourists to this region. During this festival, you can taste numerous rare types of mushrooms, which are only found in Bhutan. During this festival, locals and tourists trek through the region to gather mushrooms. This festival is celebrated in Ura Valley and locals allow tourists to stay in their home, learn their traditional cooking process, family recipes and much more.
Gomphu Kora Festival
Date : 14th Mar 2019 - 16th Mar 2019
This festival is celebrated in the eastern part of the country. The festival gets its name from an ancient meditation cave. It is said that the deity of Gomphu Kora (name of the region, where the festival is celebrated), defeated an evil spirit at the very location. You can find numerous mural paintings of 10th to 15th century AD. This festival is celebrated for three days, every year. The locals perform a circumambulation around the region. It is one of the very sacred festivals of Bhutan. Locals from different part of the country walk towards the region, to attend the festival.
Date : Not Confirmed
Merak Tshechu is an annual three day festival which celebrated in the lush Eastern part of Merak Valley. The valley lies 3000m above average sea level. This festival takes you as close to nature as possible. You can find a unique culture in this valley. The locals do not use currency. They make clothes out of wool of yak. This festival spans for three days and each day is filled with their traditional dances known as Ache Lhamo, Yak Dance, folk music performances and others