Festivals and Holidays in Bhutan

The public holidays of Bhutan comprises both national holidays as well as the local festivals better known as Tshechus. National holidays are observed throughout the country while the local festivals are celebrated region wise and at particular times of the year. Since Bhutan has its own calendar, dates of some national holidays as well as the festivals change every year. The following 16 are the national holidays that are observed by the government of Bhutan:

  • Nyinlong – winter solstice that falls on 2 January each year and is considered the most propitious day of the year.
  • Buelwa Phuewi Nyim – the traditional day of offering that usually falls in January or February.
  • Losar – the New Year celebrated between February and March that usually lasts for 15 days.
  • Birth anniversary of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk
  • Zhabdrung Kuchoe – the national day of mourning over the death of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the Tibetan Buddhist lama who unified Bhutan. It usually falls in April or May.
  • Birth anniversary of the 3rd King, late Jigme Dorji Wangchuk – falls on 2 May.
  • Coronation of the 4th King, late Jigme Singye Wangchuk – falls on 2 June
  • Parinirvana Day – falls on 15 June and is a day to honor the nirvana of Gautam Buddha.
  • Birth anniversary of Guru Rinpoche­ – falls on 10 July.
  • First Sermon of Buddha – falls on 3 August and marks the first lecture of Lord Buddha at Sarnath.
  • Thruebab – Blessed Rainy Day which generally falls in September.
  • Dashain – the main Hindu festival of the Nepalese populace in Bhutan, which usually falls in September or October.
  • Coronation of King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk – falls on 1 November.
  • Birth anniversary of the late King, Jigme Singye Wangchuk – falls on 11 November. This day is also known as the ‘constitution day’ as Bhutan’s constitution was enacted on this day.
  • Lhabab Duchen – celebrated as the day when Lord Buddha returned to earth after attaining Nirvana. It generally falls in November.
  • National Day – falls on 17 December and marks the coronation of the first king of Bhutan, late Ugyen Wangchuk.

Bhutanese festivals or Tshechus are known for their magnificence, liveliness and cheerfulness. Most of the festivals are dedicated to Guru Rinpoche and comprise mystical dances, fearless fire events, and numerous engaging performances. There are more than 40 different major festivals in Bhutan from which every traveler should at least try not to miss a few of the following:

  • Trongsa Tshechu: a yearly 3-day event at the courtyard of Trongsa Choekar Rabtse Dzong.
  • Punakha Drubchen &Tshechu: theatrical amusement depicting a scene from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army. Punakha Tshechu is held immediately afterwards.
  • Paro Tshechu: the most popular spring festival in the country.
  • Sakteng Festival:celebrated in Sakteng valley in the eastern part of Bhutan.
  • Chhhukha Tshechu: annual offering to Guru Rinpoche.
  • Takin Festival: held in Jigmi Dorji National Park of Gasa district.
  • Nimalung Tshechu: a 3-day festival where people are blessed with the display of Guru Tshengye Thongdrol in the morning of the third day.
  • Thimphu Tshechu: one of the biggest festivals in Bhutan.
  • Ura Yakchoe: a 3-day festival in Ura valley witnessing sacred dance performances.
  • Jambay Lhakhang Drup: traditional and mask dances are performed.
  • Haa Summer Festival: celebration of traditional Bhutanese culture, sports, and religion.
  • Jomolhari Mountain Festival: a 2-day event celebrated at the base of Mt. Jomolhari.
  • Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu: the festival is famous for local songs and ornamental speeches.
  • Matsutake Festival: harvest festival that marks the celebration of mushroom harvesting.
  • Nomad Festival: nomadic people from all parts of Bhutan gather in Bumthang to celebrate the annual festival.
  • Black-Necked Crane Festival: celebrated at Gangtey monastery to create awareness on conserving the endangered black-necked crane.
  • Mountain Echoes: a festival of mix of different art forms, including visual arts, literature, music, film, theatre, photography, and dance.
  • Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival: performed by the Royal Bhutan Army instead of monks as a tribute to the king.

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