Tibet Festivals

In Tibet, the Tibetan calendar lags approximately four to six weeks behind the solar calendar. For example, the Tibetan First Month usually falls in February, the Fifth Month usually falls in June or early July and the Eight Month usually falls in September.

2018 & 2019 Tibetan Festivals & Calendar

Tibetan Festivals 2018 Solar Calendar 2019 Solar Calendar Active Region Related Tour Itinerary
Shigatse New Year (Tsang Losar) Festival N/A Jan.6 Shigatse Contact us to tailor your own trip
Tibetan New Year
(The most important)
Feb.16 Feb.5 TAR 7 Days Tibet New Year Festival Tour
(Celebrate the festival with local Tibetans)
Great Prayer Festival N/A Feb.8 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Samye Cham Dance Festival Feb.25 N/A Samye Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Butter Lantern Festival Mar.2 Feb.19 Jokhang Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Tsurphu Cham Dance Festival May.24 Jun.12 Tsurphu Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Saga Dawa Festival
(The holiest one)
May.29 Jun.17 TAR 15 Days Tour Kailash in Saga Dawa Festival
(Circle around Mt. Kailash for worship)
Drigung Til Cham Dance Festival Jun.10 Jun.28 Drigung Til Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Tashilhunpo Thangka Festival Jun.26 Jul.14 Tashilhunpo Monastery 8 Days Tashilhunpo Festival Tour
(Participate various religious events)
Universal Prayer Day Jun.28 Jul.16 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Yangpachen Monastrey Cham Dance Festival Jul.12 N/A Yangpachen Monastrey Contact us to tailor your own trip
Chokor Duchen Festival Jul.16 Aug.4 TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Gyangtse Horse Racing Festival Jul.20 N/A Gyangtse 7 Days Gyantse Damar Festival Tour
Ganden Thangka Festival Jul.27 Aug.15 Gandan Monastery Contact us to tailor your own trip
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival Aug.10 N/A Nagqu 8 Days Tibet Nagqu Horce Racing Festival Budget Travel by Train
Shoton Festival
(The most popular)
Aug.11 Aug.30 TAR 6 Days Shoton Festival Experience Tour
(Experience the grandest festival to Tibetans)
Drepung Monastrey Lhoobhum Festival Aug.18 N/A Drepung Monastrey Contact us to tailor your own trip
Drak Yerpa Monastrey Cham Dance Festival Aug.20 N/A Drak Yerpa Monastrey Contact us to tailor your own trip
Damxung Horse Racing Festival Aug.20 N/A Damxung Contact us to tailor your own trip
Bathing Festival Sept.16 N/A TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Ongkor Festival End of Sept N/A TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Buddha’s Descent Day Oct.31 N/A TAR Contact us to tailor your own trip
Kongpo and Ngari Area’s New Year Festival Nov.8 N/A Kongpo & Ngari Contact us to tailor your own trip
Palden Lhamo Festival Nov.23 N/A Lhasa Contact us to tailor your own trip
Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp Festival Dec.2 N/A Lhasa 5 Days Ganden Ngachen Chenmo Festival Tour
(Join the commemoration of Tsongkapa)

List of traditional Tibetan festivals

Month Date Festival Notes
1st Month 1st-7th New Year Festival Losar A week-long drama and carnivals, horse races and archery
1st Month 4th-25th Monlam Prayer Festival The Great Prayer Festival, a tradition begun by Tsong Khapa. Many pilgrims gather at Jokhang in Lhasa
1st Month 15th Lantern Festival Commemorates Buddha’s miracle at Sravasti. Fires are lit on roofs, and lamps in windows
2nd Month 28th-29th Festival to drive out evil spirits and expel the scapegoat. Lamas encircle Lhasa with trumpets
4th Month 7th Pilgrim Festival Important month for pilgrims. -the birth of Buddha Sakyamuni
4th Month 15th Saka dawa Celebrates the birth and Enlightenment of Sakyamuni and his entry to Nirvana. An outdoor opera is held and captured animals released. Worshippers flock to the Jokhang in Lhasa to pray.
5th Month 14th-16th Hanging of the Thangka A giant thangka is hung at Tashilhunpo in Shigatse
5th Month 15th Incense Festival On this day ghosts are said to prowl. Tibetans dress up and party to drive away the spirits.
5th Month 15th-24th Sho Dun Festival Literally, the “Yoghurt Festival.” Worship of the Buddha. Picnics and operas are held in parks particularly under the trees at Norbulingka. There are often bonfires at night.
6th Month 4th Buddha’s sermon A feast is held to commemorate Buddha’s first sermon. Pilgrims climb holy mountains such as Chokbori
6th month 6th Cham-ngyon-wa, or “Old Dance” Celebrated at the Cho-ne Monastery, representing the souls of the departed.
7th month beginning Washing Festival Lasts about a week. People go to the river to wash themselves and their clothes. Said to cure any sickness.
7th Month end Ongkar Festival Literally ‘Looking around the fields’. Ensures a good harvest. Horse-racing, archery contests and opera
7th/8th Month All Golden Star Festival The Golden Star festival is held to wash away passion, greed and jealousy and to abandon ego. Ritual bathing in rivers takes place and picnics are held
8th Month 1st-10th Dajyur Festival The Dayjur is held in Gyantse and Damxung -horse racing and light hearted sports competitions and games takes places
8th Month 1st-7th Harvest Festival The festival is held with prayers, dancing, singing and drinking
8th Month 14st-16th Buddha painting unfolding festival Lamas unfold large thangkas on walls and mountains.
9th Month 22nd Buddha’s descent from heaven after preaching to his mother is commemorated. All monasteries are opened and pilgrims gather
10th Month 25th Tsong Khapamemorial Memorial festival of Tsong Khapa’s death – fires are lit on the roofs of the monasteries and lamps are lit
12th Month 1st-7th New Year Festival New Year Festival in Shigatse
12th Month 5th-6th Meeting of the Eight Guardians The Meeting of the Eight Guardians and demons where Tibetans stay indoors to avoid evil outside
12th Month 29th Banishing Evil Spirits A “Devil Dance” is held to drive out all evil from the Old Year to prepare for New Year.

Losar/Tibetan New Year

The Tibetan calendar is a lunisolar calendar. Losar is celebrated on the first three days of the first lunar month.

Gregorianyear Tibetan year Losar* element and animal
2000 2126 February 5 – February 7 male iron dragon
2001 2127 January 24 – January 26 female iron snake (or metal serpent)
2002 2128 February 12 – February 14 male water horse
2003 2129 February 1 – February 3 female water sheep (or goat)
2004 2130 January 22 – January 24 male wood monkey
2005 2131 February 9 – February 11* female wood bird (or rooster)
2006 2132 January 30 – February 1 male fire dog
2007 2133 February 18 – February 20 female fire pig
2008 2134 February 7 – February 9 male earth rat (some Gelukpa cite Tibetan Year 2135 [five], starting 2008-02-07 at 03:44 GMT, also an annular solar eclipse)
2009 2135 January 25 – January 27 female earth ox