2020-2021 TIBETAN FESTIVAL CALENDAR
|Festival||Where Festival is Celebrated||Tibetan Lunar Calendar||World Calendar 2020||World Calendar 2021|
|Tibetan New Year||Central Tibet||1st day of the 1st lunar|
|February 24th||February 12th|
|The Monlam Prayer Festival||Entire Tibet||4th to 25th day of the|
1st lunar month
|February 27th to March|
|February 15th to March|
|The Butter Lamp Festival||Entire Tibet||15th day of the 1st|
|March 9th||February 27th|
|Peach Blossom Festival||Eastern Tibet/Nyingchi|
|2nd to 3rd lunar month||March to end of April||March to end of April|
|Saga Dawa Festival||Entire Tibet||4th lunar month||May 23rd to June 21th||May 12th to June 10th|
|Tsurphu Monastery Cham|
|Tsurphu/ Lhasa||10th day of the 4th|
|June 1st||May 21st|
|Rongphuk Monastery Cham|
|Everest||15th day of the 4th|
|June 5th||May 26th|
|Drigung Til Monastery Cham|
|Drigung/Lhasa||25th day of the 4th|
|June 15th||June 4th|
|Tashilhunpo Thankga Festival||Shigatse||14th to 16th day of the|
5th lunar month
|June 4th to 6th||June 23rd to 25th|
|Entire Tibet||15th day of the 5th|
|July 5th||June 24th|
|Gyantse Horse Racing Festival||Gyantse||30th day of the 5th|
|July 20th||July 9th|
|Choekor Duechen / Tukbe|
|Entire Tibet||4th day of the 6th lunar|
|July 24th||July 14th|
|The Ganden Thangka|
|Ganden Monastery||15th day of the 6th|
|August 3rd||July 24th|
|Samye Dhoede||Samye||15th to 17th day of the|
5th lunar month
|July 5th to 7th||June 24th to 26th|
|Shoton Festival||Entire Tibet||1st day of the 7th lunar|
|August 20th||August 9th|
|Ongkor/Harvest Festival||Only Famer||7th lunar month||b/w August to|
|b/w August to|
|Nagqu Horse Racing Festival||Nagqu||6th to 7th lunar month||August 10th to 15th||to be announced|
|Bathing Festival/Karma Dunba||Entire Tibet||6th to12th day of the|
7th lunar month
|August 24th to 30th||August 14th to 19th|
|Drak Yerpa Cham Dance||Drak Yerpa/Lhasa||10th day of the 7th|
|August 28th||August 17th|
|Chongye Janye monastery|
|Chongye/Tsedang||15th day of the 7th|
|2nd September||August 22nd|
|Lhabab Duechen||Entire Tibet||22nd day of the 9th|
|November 7th||October 27th/November|
|Nyingchi New Year||Eastern Tibet/Nyingchi|
|1st day of the 10th|
|November 16th||December 5th|
|Palden Lhamo Festival||Entire Tibet||15th day of the 10th|
|November 30th||December 18th|
|Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp|
|Entire Tibet||25th day of the 10th|
|December 10th||December 29th|
|Sakya Cham Dance||Sakya||29th day of the 11th|
|23rd January||12th January|
|Rongphuk Monastery Cham|
|Everest||29th day of the 11th|
|12th January||31st January|
|Shigatse New Year||Shigatse Region||1st day of the 12th|
|25th January||14th January|
LOSAR – TIBETAN NEW YEAR
The Tibetan New Year is celebrated at the beginning of the 1 month according to the Tibetan calendar. The preparation for the New Year starts with painting a rectangle cereal container called ”Chemar“ for making contributions to Buddha. Tibetans fill up “Chemar” with butter, mixed barley cakes, baked barley seeds, and ginseng nuts. ”Chemar“ is decorated on the outside with barley ears, cock-flowers, and butter made plates.
When New Year’s day breaks, people hold ”Chemar“ and highland barley wine to greet each other by saying” Tashi Delek”. which means “Good wishes and happiness”. During the several following days, people sing and dance and visit relatives and friends. They drink together and pray for happiness in temples or monasteries. No one is allowed to do any household chores on that day.
BUTTER LAMP FESTIVAL
Tibetans celebrate the Butter Lamp Festival on the 15th date of the January according to Tibetan calendar. Lamas from every temple and monastery and civil craftsmen make butter flowers with colored butter and hang them on the shafts in front of Jokhang Temple. They create vivid and eye-catching sculptures of Shakyamuni, Tsongkhapa, and his two disciples, eight auspicious symbols, birds, and animals. Drepung, Sera, Ganden monasteries and Jokhang display elaborately made butter sculptures. People sing and dance under the lamps till daybreak.
Sada Dawa month in 2021 will be from May 12th to June 10th. The main day of celebration is on May 26 – the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death
The Saga Dawa is the Buddha’s Anniversary festival and one of the most important festivals in Tibet. Its common name is “The Festival of Setting Captive Animals Free”. All lamas and laymen do not eat meat and do not kill animals during the whole April month of Tibetan calendar. They pay their homage to Buddha, and chant sutras. It is believed that Sakyamuni was born, enlightened and died on the 15th day of the April month. Every year that day people gather by the Dragon king pool, rowing boats and singing songs. They picnic and dance in the garden.
During the Saga Dawa festival, monks perform a religious dance called Cham Dance. Monks wear masks representing different deities. The dance’s primary purpose is not to entertain the public, but rather to attract luck and happiness. The costumes are bright, colorful and heavily decorated, making the dance an interesting and rarely seen event.
You can enjoy the Cham Dance at the Tsurphu and Dregong monasteries during the Saga Dawa festival. You can also see the dance in Samye monastery during the Tsechu Festival celebrated on May 15th of the Tibetan calendar.
In 2021 Saga Dawa celebrations starts on May 26. If you wish to visit Tibet during that time, consider joining our special group tour to Mount Kailash during the Saga Dawa festival»
Read more about the Saga Dawa festival: dates, how to celebrate, what places to visit»
PAYING HOMAGE TO THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
The 4th of June in the Tibetan calendar is a religious festival for the front Tibetan area. It is believed to be the day when Sakyamuni first preached a sermon with the prayer wheel. On this day, people go to monasteries and temples to pay their homage to Buddha, to offer joss-sticks and to circumambulate holy mountains. In addition, they arrange picnics and spend the day singing and dancing in the fields.
August 17-August 25, 2020 – Shoton Festival (yogurt festival)
Tibetans celebrate Shoton or yogurt festival in summer and it is one of the most popular festivals in Tibet. Many pilgrims visit Lhasa, the capital of Tibet during that time. City and monasteries are decorated in preparation for it.
Traditionally, monks had a prolonged retreat during the summer months and stayed within the monasteries. At the end of the retreat, Tibetans would bring them yogurt to celebrate the end of the retreat and to express gratitude to monks.
Later the celebration grew bigger and opera performance in the Norbulingka park became an important part of it. Nowadays Tibetans celebrate Shoton festival for a week, spending beautiful summer days in the park watching opera and enjoying a picnic with friends and family.
We offer a special tour during which we will join crowds of Tibetans and celebrate this event together.
The celebration begins early morning on June 30th of the Tibetan calendar. People gather at the foot of Drepung Monastery, waiting for the first event of Shoton Festival. Monks unfold the giant embroidered Thangka. The image of the Buddha is displayed on the hill and can be seen from the great distance. Pilgrims walk around the Drepung monastery to reach the Thangka display, then walk around the painting to get its blessing.
After visiting Drepung, pilgrims head towards Sera monastery where they can see another Thangka. Monks unroll it later in the day and it is possible to see both ceremonies in one day.
From the first day of the festival, Tibetan drama troupes perform operas in Potala Palace and Norbulingka. Tibetans dress up in traditional clothes and visit Norbulingka, the summer residence of the Dalai Lama to watch the spectacular performance. People settle for a picnic in the park and spend the day watching the opera and visiting palaces and temples in the park.
Visiting Tibet during Shoton festival is an exciting opportunity to participate in one of the most important events in the life of Tibetans. You will have a very close interaction with the people around you. Many Tibetans travel from remote areas to visit the capital during that time. Pilgrims wear their best traditional dress, some are very different in style and decorations than what you can usually see in Lhasa and Central Tibet.
THE BATHING FESTIVAL
Tibetans celebrate the Bathing Festival from 6th to the 12 of July, according to the Tibetan calendar. It is exactly the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, wind moderates and the sunshine on the Plateau. Tibetan people, old and young, man and woman, from towns or countryside or pastoral areas, go to riversides to take a holy bath. Tibetans believe that it can heal diseases and help them stay fit.
It is a holiday of Tibetan, looking forward to the harvest. Tibetans celebrate Wongkor festival when crops are ripe, and the festival lasts three to five days. People dress uphold colorful flags with good wishes, carry a ”harvest tower“ built with barley stalks and ears. They sing and dance, beat drums and walk around the fields. On this day, people are also enjoying horse-racing. Then they start the intense autumn harvest.
THE FAIRY MAIDEN FESTIVAL
Every 15th day of the October month in Tibetan calendar is the Maiden Festival. People perform religious activities. Tibetan women regard it their own holiday, so they are more active and energetically than men.
This special tour takes you to the sacred Mount Kailash during the biggest festival of the year. Saga Dawa Festival celebrated the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from all around Tibet, India, and the world. You will see the greatest diversity of Tibetan national dress as people wear their best clothes for the festival.
Visit Tibet during one of the most spectacular events during the year – Shoton or Yogurt festival. During this festival Sera and Drepung monasteries display giant religious paintings – Thangkas. This even happens only once a year and you can watch how monks unroll the thangka for people to walk around it and get a blessing. Only a few hours later thangka is rolled back up and stored until the next year. The festival falls on the summer day and it is a great chance to experience authentic Tibetan culture.