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Most Popular Tibet Festivals

There are many different Tibetan festivals making up our list of Lhasa festivals and events. Tibetan New Year, the Shoton Festival and the Thangka Festival, when a giant Buddha painting is unfurled, are the highlights. Other festivals are associated with Buddhist monasteries and local traditions and customs.

Lhasa is center of all things Tibetan, so a Lhasa tour, especially one including a minority festival, is the ideal way to experience the culture of Tibet.

Lhasa Festivals and Events List

Tibet Shoton Festival

Aug. 21 

Shoton is Tibetan. Sho means ‘yogurt’, while ton means ‘feast’. So the Shoton Festival is the day for eating yogurt. Recently, the main event of Shoton Festival has been Tibetan dramatic operas, so it is called Tibetan Operas Festival.

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Tibetan New Year/Losar — The Most Important Festival in Tibet

Feb. 27 

Tibetan New Year is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar, also known as Losar. Losar has rich and interesting activities, including chanting, passing of fire torches, and dancing. However, Tibet is not open to foreigners during the festival.

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Monlam Prayer Festival

Mar. 4 

The Monlam Prayer Festival, celebrated from the fourth day to the fifteenth day of the Tibetan calendar, is a festival for Buddhists to remember the miracles Buddha did and pray. You can visit the temples and see thousands of Buddhists worship during the Monlam Festival.

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Tibetan Butter Lamp Festival

Mar. 12 

The Tibetan Butter Lamp Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the Tibetan calendar. On that day, locals and Buddhists use Tibetan butter and pigment to make exquisite sculptures to commemorate Shakyamuni Buddha’s great legend.

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Saga Dawa Festival

Jun. 9 to Jun. 2

Saga Dawa Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar. This festival honors the whole life of Shakyamuni Buddha. Massive activities, including going to temples, praying, and lighting plenty of butter lamps, are held.

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Garma Ri Gi (Tibetan Bathing Festival)

Aug. 19 

Garma Ri Gi is Tibetan for ‘bathing festival’. This festival is an annual week-long festival. During the seven days, men and women, young and old, all go down into the river to take a bath.

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Palden Lhamo Festival

Dec. 3 

Palden Lhamo Festival honors a wrathful deity named Palden Lhamo. People consider her as a deity that protects the main leaders of the Tibetan religion: the Panchen Lama and the Dalai Lama. You can go to Barkhor Street to see the worship of the goddess.

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The Thangka Unveiling at Tashilunpo

Jul. 9 

As the political, economic, and cultural center of the Tibetan religion, there are many religious festivals held in Lhasa. The Thangka Unveiling at Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of them. It is a Thangka worship festival where huge Thangkas (Buddhist tapestries) are displayed.

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Ganden Thangka Festival

Aug. 7 

Ganden Thangka Festival is an important annual festival at the ancient Ganden Monastery. On the ninth day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, people circle the ruins of the temple, enter inside to view the Buddha thangka (tapestry), pray, and get blessed.

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Lhabab Duechen Festival

Nov. 11 

The Lhabab Duchen festival, also called Duchen Festival, is a Tibetan Buddhist festival that celebrates Shakyamuni Buddha returning to earth after going to the 33 heavens to save his mother. The date falls on the 22nd day of the ninth month of the Tibetan calendar.

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Zamling Chisang (Samye Dolde)

Jul. 9 

Zamling Chisang is a festival that celebrates the founding of Samye Monastery and the achievements of Guru Rinpoche. It falls on the fifteenth day of the fifth month of the Tibetan calendar. It is a traditional festival with strong Tibet characteristics.

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Nagqu Horse Racing Festival

Aug. 1 to Aug. 1

The Tibetan (Zang) ethnicity has a special emotional connection with horses, as do most nomadic peoples of the world. Nagqu Horse Racing Festival is the greatest and grandest festival in Northern Tibet. If you are planning a Tibet tour in summer, you shouldn’t miss it.

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Gyantse Horse Race Festival

Jul. 20 

Gyantse is an ancient town in Tibet, which was important in Tibetan history. Gyantse Horse Race Festival is the grandest festival in the region of Shigatse. People wear their characteristic ethnic costumes to attend the festival.

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