You are here: Home » About Tibet: interesting facts about Tibetan plateau » Festivals
Drepung Monastery in Lhasa during celebration of Shoton Festival

2020-2021 TIBETAN FESTIVAL CALENDAR

FestivalWhere Festival is CelebratedTibetan Lunar CalendarWorld Calendar 2020World Calendar 2021
Tibetan New YearCentral Tibet1st day of the 1st lunar
month
February 24thFebruary 12th
The Monlam Prayer FestivalEntire Tibet4th to 25th day of the
1st lunar month
February 27th to March
18th
February 15th to March
8th
The Butter Lamp FestivalEntire Tibet15th day of the 1st
lunar month
March 9thFebruary 27th
Peach Blossom FestivalEastern Tibet/Nyingchi
Region
2nd to 3rd lunar monthMarch to end of AprilMarch to end of April
Saga Dawa FestivalEntire Tibet4th lunar monthMay 23rd to June 21thMay 12th to June 10th
Tsurphu Monastery Cham
Dance
Tsurphu/ Lhasa10th day of the 4th
lunar month
June 1stMay 21st
Rongphuk Monastery Cham
Dance
Everest15th day of the 4th
lunar month
June 5thMay 26th
Drigung Til Monastery Cham
Dance
Drigung/Lhasa25th day of the 4th
lunar month
June 15thJune 4th
Tashilhunpo Thankga FestivalShigatse14th to 16th day of the
5th lunar month
June 4th to 6thJune 23rd to 25th
Universal Prayer/Zamling
Jisang
Entire Tibet15th day of the 5th
lunar month
July 5thJune 24th
Gyantse Horse Racing FestivalGyantse30th day of the 5th
lunar month
July 20thJuly 9th
Choekor Duechen / Tukbe
Tseshi
Entire Tibet4th day of the 6th lunar
month
July 24thJuly 14th
The Ganden Thangka
Showing
Ganden Monastery15th day of the 6th
lunar month
August 3rdJuly 24th
Samye DhoedeSamye15th to 17th day of the
5th lunar month
July 5th to 7thJune 24th to 26th
Shoton FestivalEntire Tibet1st day of the 7th lunar
month
August 19thAugust 8th
Ongkor/Harvest FestivalOnly Famer7th lunar monthb/w August to
September
b/w August to
September
Nagqu Horse Racing FestivalNagqu6th to 7th lunar monthAugust 10th to 15thto be announced
Bathing Festival/Karma DunbaEntire Tibet6th to12th day of the
7th lunar month
August 24th to 30thAugust 14th to 19th
Drak Yerpa Cham DanceDrak Yerpa/Lhasa10th day of the 7th
lunar month
August 28thAugust 17th
Chongye Janye monastery
Cham Dance
Chongye/Tsedang15th day of the 7th
lunar month
2nd SeptemberAugust 22nd
Lhabab DuechenEntire Tibet22nd day of the 9th
lunar month
November 7thOctober 27th/November
26th
Nyingchi New YearEastern Tibet/Nyingchi
Region
1st day of the 10th
lunar month
November 16thDecember 5th
Palden Lhamo FestivalEntire Tibet15th day of the 10th
lunar month
November 30thDecember 18th
Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp
Festival/Ganden Nga-Choe
Entire Tibet25th day of the 10th
lunar month
December 10thDecember 29th
Sakya Cham DanceSakya29th day of the 11th
lunar month
23rd January12th January
Rongphuk Monastery Cham
Dance
Everest29th day of the 11th
lunar month
12th January31st January
Shigatse New YearShigatse Region1st day of the 12th
lunar month
25th January14th 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

Butter lamps in Jokhang Temple

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.

SAGA DAWA

Setting up the new pole during Saga Dawa celebration
Setting up the new pole during Saga Dawa celebration

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.

SHOTON FESTIVAL

August 19, 2020 / August 8th, 2021- Shoton Festival (yogurt festival)

Shoton Festival Thangka - Buddha Painting display

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.

Shoton Festival Tour Details»

FESTIVAL EVENTS

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.

DATES, HISTORY, TRADITIONS AND HOW TO CELEBRATE SHOTON FESTIVAL

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.

WONGKOR FESTIVAL

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.

FESTIVAL TOURS

TOUR INQUIRY

PREPARE FOR TIBET TOUR

RECENT BLOG POSTS

Buddhist monk performing Cham Dance during Tibetan Buddhist Festival

2 Responses

  1. Jaume
    | Reply

    hello we wanted if you know the exact date of the Gyantse 2020 festival?

    • Wonders Of Tibet
      | Reply

      Dear Jaume,

      The horse racing festival is on July 20th, 2020.

      Thank you!

      Kalsang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *