Tibet Festival Calendar

Lhosar (Tibetan New Year)
Tibetan New Year is the most important festival in Tibet. It is an occasion when Tibetan families reunite and expect a better coming year. Known as Losar, the festival starts from 1st to 3rd of the 1st Tibetan month. Specially made offerings are offered to family shrine deities; doors are painted with religious symbols; other painstaking jobs are done to prepare for the event. On the New Year's Eve, Tibetans eat barley crumb food (Guthuk in Tibetan) with their families and have fun since the barley crumbs are stuffed with different stuffing to fool someone in the family. After the dinner it is the Festival of Banishing Evil Sprits! Torches are lit and people are running and yelling to get rid of evil spirits from their houses. The New Year is coming! Before the dawn on the New Year's Day, housewives fetch their first buckets of water in the new year home and prepare breakfast. After dressing up, people open their doors upon prayers and go to monasteries. People visit their neighborhoods and exchange their Tashi Delek blessings in the first two days. Feast is the theme during the session. On the third day, old prayer flags will be replaced with new ones. Other folk activities may be held in some areas to celebrate the events.

Monlam Festival:
Monlam, the Great Prayer Festival, falls on 4th -11th day of the 1st Tibetan month. The event was established in 1049 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama's order. As the grandest religious festival in Tibet, religious dances are performed and thousands of monks gather for chanting before the Jokhang Temple. Examination for Geshe degree (the highest degree in Buddhist theology), taking form of sutra debates, are held. Pilgrims crowd to listen to sermons and to make religious donations. 
Chunga Choepa (The Butter Lamp Festival)The Butter Lamp Festival, Chunga Choepa in Tibetan, falls on 15th day of the 1st Tibetan month. The event was also established by Tsong Khapa to celebrate the victory of Sakyamuni against heretics in a religious debate. Various giant butter and Tsampa sculptures, in forms of auspicious symbols and figures, are displayed on Barkhor. People keep singing and dancing throughout the festive night.

Saka Dawa Festival:
On the 15th day of the 4th Tibetan month is Saka Dawa Festival. The day is believed to be the day when Sakyamuni was born, step into Buddhahood and attained nirvana. Tibetans believe that one merit equals myriads of merits accumulated the other days. People keep from killing animals, refrain from eating meats and liberate animals. Sutra chanting, prayer turning, Cham dancing and other religious activities dominate the session. Offering sacrifices to the female deity enshrined in the temple on the islet of the Dragon King Pond, boating in the pond and picnicking add more festive mood.

Yoghurt or Shoton Festival:
Shoton Festival (also Yoghurt Festival) begins on the 30th of the 6th Tibetan month. The origin of the festival started from the 17th century. When monks stopped their summer retreat which was intended not to kill newly hatched insects, pilgrims came to serve them with yogurt. Later Tibetan opera performances were added to the event to amuse monks in monasteries. During the festival, giant Thangkas of the Buddha is unveiled in Drepung Monastery and Tibetan opera troupes perform operas at Norbulingka.
Bathing FestivalBathing Festival starts on 27th of the 7th lunar month and lasts a week, when Venus appears in the sky. Tibetans brings food and set up tents along rivers and bathe themselves in star light. The holy bath is considered to be able to heal all diseases and get rid of misfortune.

Nakchu Horse Race Festival:
Nakchu Horse Race Festival is a most important folk festival in Tibet. People gather in Nakchu town and construct a tent city. Dressing themselves and their finest horse, thousands of herdsmen participate in the thrilling horse race, archery and horsemanship contest. Other folk activities and commodity fairs are also held. The event falls on the early august annually.
Gyangtse Horse Rave FestivalThere are different versions of the origin of Gyangtse Horse Rave Festival, which is also popular throughout Tibet. The festival usually falls in June. Horse race, archery contest, and other games are performed to entertain people. Religious activities also are part of the event.

Buddha Unfolding Festival:
Buddha Unfolding Festival is celebrated in Tashilhunpo Monastery from 14th to 16th of the 5th Tibetan month. Unbelievable giant Thangkas of Amitayus, Sakyamuni and Maitreya will be displayed on the monastery's Thangka Wall successively. Thousands of pilgrims rush to the monastery to pay their offerings to the Buddhas and accumulate their merits. The tradition has lasted for 500 years.
Tsong Khapa Butter Lamp FestivalTsong Khapa Butter Lamp Festival falls on 25th day of the 10th Tibetan month, when myriads of butter lamps are lit on rooftops, and prayers are chanted, to memorize the passing away of Tsong Khapa who was a great religious reformer and adept in Buddhism.

Choekhor Duechcen Festival:
Paying Homage to the Holy Mountain Festival, Choekhor Duechcen in Tibetan, falling on 4th of the 6th Tibetan month, is to commemorate Sakyamuni's first sermon. People, in their best conduct during the session, go to monasteries to pay homage to the Buddha. Circumambulation around mountains is the popular practice in the festival. Picnicking, singing and dancing are also part of the activities.

Zamling Chisang (Universal Prayers Festival):
Universal Prayers Festival, Zamling Chisang in Tibetan, falls on 15th of the 5th Tibetan month. The event is to commemorate Padmasambhava's Subjugation of evil spirits. People go to monasteries and burn juniper branches.
Ongkor (Harvest Festival)Harvest Festival, Ongkor in Tibetan, is celebrated when crops ripen, usually around August. The festival is celebrated only in farming villages. People walk around field to bless for a harvest year. Singing, dancing, and horseracing are indispensable folk activities.Changtang chachen horse race festival (10 august)As the most important festival in north Tibet during the golden season on the grassland, thousand of herdsmen throng to nakchu riding fine horses, and carrying the local products. They form as city of tens south of nakchu town. There will be thrilling horse race, archery and demonstrations of horsemanship. Songs and dance troupes from all part of Tibet will add to the fun. 

Ganden Festival:
On the 15th day of the 6th Tibetan month, 25 precious articles belonging to ganden monastery, which are normally locked in their treasure house, are displayed in the main shrine hall. A grand offering ceremony accompanies the display. These articles consist of the images of the sixteen arhats, akshobhya, the secret assembly, the four great kings, the upasaka and hashang image.

Labrang monastic opera ( Cham ):
Monks at Labrang monastery perform the ritual dances by wearing Buddhist masks. Thousands of Tibetans flock there for the special ceremony the miracle festival.

Labrang monastic opera ( Summer ): Duration 1Monks at Labrang monastery perform the ritual dances by wearing Buddhist masks. This perform telling the story of Milarepa who get enlightenment.

Labrang monastic opera ( Winter ): Monks at Labrang monastery perform Kalarewa dance, this perform also has thousand of Tibetans from all over and celabrat the special ceremony.

Horse racing festival at Labrang Sangke grassland:This is a special ceremony held by the nomads of Sangke including mainly horse race, Yak race and wrestling.

Kangding Horse Racing Festival: This is a special ceremony held by the nomads of Kangding of Kham-region including mainly horse race, Yak race and wrestling.

Lithang horse racing festival: The Tibetan area of Kham in West-Sichuan is comprised of Garze Tibet Autonomous Prefecture and this area features snowy mountains. Here also plants of various shapes and colors and numerous wild animals exist. 

Tibetan Festival Calendar

Festival Name Tibetan Calendar Year 2014 Year 2015 Year 2016
Tibetan New Year/Losar Day 1 Month 1 5/Mar 5/Mar 22/Feb
Monlam prayer festival Day 4-11 Month 1 8/Mar 8/Mar 25/Feb
Butter lamp / Choe-nga Choepa Day15 Month 1 19/Mar 19/Mar 8/Mar
Saga Dawa (Saka Dawa) Day 15/Apr Month 4 15/Jun 15/Jun 4/Jun
Gyantse horse race Day 14-18 Month 4 20/Jul 20/Jul 20/Jul
Thangka unveiling Tashilungpo Day 15 Month 5 15/Jul 15/Jul 3/Jul
Zamling Chisang / Samye Dolde Day 15 Month 5 15/Jul 15/Jul 3/Jul
Choekor Duechen / Tukbe Tseshi Day 4 Month 6 3/Aug 3/Aug 23/Jul
Ganden Thangka unveiling Day 15 Month 6 13/Aug 13/Aug 2/Aug
Shoton festival Day 30 Month 6 29/Aug 29/Aug 17/Aug
Labrang Rikda Day 8 Month 7 7/Aug 7/Aug 25/Aug
Karma Dunba Day 17 Month 7 14/Sep 14/Sep 2/Sep
Nagchu horse race   10/Aug 10/Aug 10/Aug
Jerkhundo horse race (Yeshu)   25/Jul 25/Jul 25/Jul
Litang horse race   1/Aug 1/Aug-5/Aug 1/Aug
Lhabab Duechen Day 22 Month 9 17/Nov 17/Nov 6/Nov
Palden Lhamo festival Day 15 Month 10 10/Dec 10/Dec 28/Nov
Ganden Nga-Choe Day 25 Month 10 20/Dec 20/Dec 8/Dec
Kailash Yatra 2013 Departure