Festival Schedules 2023 & 2024

Thimphu Tsechu Festival
Thimphu Tsechu Festival

Tshechus – A History

Tsechus have always been an integral aspect of Bhutanese culture. It attracts tourists and locals alike in the hordes. Yet not many understand how these festivals originated and what they signify. So, we hereby present you with a brief history of the Tshechu, along with how and where it all began.

The great scholar Padmasambhava of the school of Nyingmapa (the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism) visited Tibet and Bhutan in the 8th and 9th century. As bon practices and animist rituals were rampant then, he converted opponents of the Dharma by reciting mantras, performing rites and dancing to subjugate local spirits.

His visit to Bhutan had been to aid the dying king Sindhu Raja. Padmasambhava performed a series of dances in the Bumthang valley which miraculously restored the king’s health. The king in return helped him spread Buddhism in Bhutan. So, Padmasambhava organized the first tshechu in Bumthang where the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava being the human form) were presented through eight forms of dances. These dances or Chams depicted the glory of Buddhism and were composed mainly to convey messages of the Buddha to the people. While some of the Chams were composed by Guru Rinpoche, others were created by Tertoen Pema Lingpa, Zhabdrung and other great saints.

During the mask dances, the deities of the tantric teachings are invoked and through their power and blessings, misfortunes are removed.  The dances are believed to suppress all evil spirits and demons that prevent the spread of Chhoe – the doctrine.

Thimphu Drubchen & Tshechu

The eleven-day annual Lhamoi Drubchen – a rite performed to appease the protecting deity Pelden Lhamo (Mahakali) – is held in September. Pelden Lhamo whose name translates into Glorious Goddess is the only female Dharma protector common to all four schools of Buddhism. She is one of the three main protecting deities of Bhutan.

Although the Thimphu Tshechu was introduced in 1670, the Drubchen was instituted sometime between 1705 and 1709 by Kuenga Gyaltshen, the first reincarnation of Jampel Dorji – the son of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. According to legend, Pelden Lhamo appeared before him while he was meditating and performed dances. And based on the dances, Kuenga Gyaltshen initiated the Drubchen.

Paro Tshechu

Paro Tshechu is the most popular pageantry in Bhutan with the unfurling of the world’s biggest Thangka or Thongdrel ceremony. The mask dances commemorate the deeds of the great saint Guru Rinpoche. The locals attend the colorful festival to gain merit.

The event inside Paro Rinpung Dzong commences with monks performing the Shingje Yab Yum – the dance of the lord of death (Shingje) and his consort. It is followed by Durdag – the dance of the lords of the cremation grounds, after which, the dance of the black hats, Shanag, and the dance of the drums from Drametse (Drametse Ngacham) are performed.

Punakha Drubchen & Tshechu

The Punakha Drubchen was introduced by Zhabdrung to commemorate the victories over the Tibetans. During the festival, the Pazaps or local militia men dress in battle gear and showcase a battle scene from the distant past. In the absence of a standing army, men from the eight Tshogchens of Thimphu and Punakha valley came forward and managed to expel the Tibetan forces from Bhutan. As for the Punakha Tshechu, it was started by the 70th Je Khenpo Trulku Jigme Choedra.

The Thongdrel unveiled during the festival is of great significance. Measuring 83ft by 93ft, it is composed entirely of appliqué on 6,000 meters of silk brocade that took 51 artists two years to complete. The top half of the Thongdrel is devoted to the 11 manifestations of Zhabdrung’s lineage. The bottom half depicts Bhutan’s spiritual leaders including the current Je Khenpo.

Trashigang Tshechu

The Trashigang Tshechu takes place in the winter months. What attracts tourist to this festival is the nomadic people from Merak and Sakten with their unique costumes and attires. The Kholong Tshechu in Trashigang, which begins in Yonphu towards the end of November, also draws a huge crowd not only because it is the oldest Tshechu in Eastern Bhutan but because of its name. Kholong – translated in Sharchopkha means a fight. So, a precise interpretation would be ‘the fighting tshechu’.

Chorten Kora & Namgang Kora

These circumambulations of the Chortens by the Dakpas (people of Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh in India) and Drukpas (Bhutanese) are held in the first lunar month and are attended by people from all over the eastern region in Bhutan and from India.

A popular belief is that when the stupa was constructed, a pious dakini princess from Arunachal Pradesh entombed herself within, as the Yeshe Semba, to meditate on behalf of all beings. Hence, devotees from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, India, joined the Bhutanese counterparts in the Namgang Kora – one of eastern Bhutan’s oldest festivals which is held annually at the Chorten Kora in Trashiyangtse Dzongkhag.

Trongsa Tshechu

Trongsa Tshechu, the oldest festival in Bhutan, is held annually inside the vast Trongsa Dzong. It is believed that the Tshechus began to spread in Bhutan from Trongsa. During the three-day festival, locals and monks perform mask dances, and traditional folk songs and dances are showcased as offerings to Guru Padmasambhava and local deities.

Festivals in Bumthang

Jambay Lhakhang Drup

This festival is held for dual reasons; to commemorate the establishment of the Jambey Lhakhang (temple) in the 7th century and to honor Guru Rinpoche who introduced tantric Buddhism in Bhutan.
This festival is one of the most important in Bhutan and the highlight is the Mewang – the fire ceremony – and the Tercham – a religious dance. The fire dance is supposed to bless infertile women so that they may bear children.

Domkhar Festival

The Domkhar festival in Chumey valley in Bumthang was initiated by a preeminent scholar of Dranang in Tibet, Lam Kuenkhen Longchen Rabjam, in the 16th century. He promoted the special teaching of Dzongpo Chenpo (great perfection) and founded eight monasteries throughout the country. The festival held every year in April at the Domkhar temple is in his honor.

Jakar Festival

This festival is held within the walls of Jakar Dzong to honor the Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) who brought Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan during 8th century. The festival lasts for three days in mid-October during the ninth month of the Bhutanese lunar calendar.

Bhutan Festival Schedules for 2023 & 2024







Punakha Drubchen

Punakha Dzong, Punakha


16th-18th February


Punakha Tsechu

Punakha Dzong, Punakha


19th-21st February


Tharpaling Thongdrol

Tharpaling Lhakhang, Chummi, Bumthang


24th February


Gomphu Kora

Gom Kora Lhakhang, Trashigang


17th-19th March


Talo Tsechu

Talo Gonpa, Punakha


17th-19th March


Gasa Tsechu

Gasa Dzong, Gasa


17th-19th March


Zhemgang Tshechu



17th-19th March


Paro Tsechu

Rinpung Dzong, Paro


21st-25th March


Chorten Kora

Chorten Kora Lhakhang, Trashiyangtshe


25th March – 08th April


Domkhar Tsechu

Domkhar, Chummi, Bumthang


18th-20th April


Ura Yakchoe

Ura Lhakhang, Bumthang


20th-24th April


Nimalung Tsechu

Nimalung Dratshang, Chummi, Bumthang


14th-16th June


Kurjey Tsechu

Kurjey Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang


16th June


Masutaki Mushroom Festival

Ura, Bumthang

15th-17th August

23rd-24th August


Tour of the Dragon (Bicycle Race)

Bumthang to Thimphu

07th September

05th September


Thimphu Drubchen

Tashi Chhodzong, Thimphu

20th September

08th September


Wangdue Tsechu

Tencholing Army Ground, Wangduephodrang

22nd September

11th-13th September


Thimphu Tsechu

Tashi Chhodzong, Thimphu

24th-26th September

12th-14th September


Tamshing Phala Chhoepa

Tamshing Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang

24th-26th September

13th-15th September


Gangtey Tsechu

Gangtey Gonpa, Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang

27th-29th September

16th-18th September


Thangbi Mani

Tangbi Lhakhang, Choekor, Bumthang

29th-30th September

17th-19th September


Chhukha Tsechu

Chhukha Dzong, Chhukha

23rd-24th October

10th-12th October


Jakar Tsechu

Jakar Dzong, Choekhor, Bumthang

21st-25th October

10th-12th October


Jambay Lhakhang Drup

Jambay Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang

28th-31st October

17th-21st October


Prakar Duchhoed

Prakar Lhakhang, Chummi, Bumthang

29th-31st October

18th-20th October


Black Necked Crane Festival

Gangtey Gonpa, Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang

11th November

11th November


Mongar Tsechu

Mongar Dzong, Mongar

19th-22nd November

09th-11th November


Trashigang Tsechu

Trashigang Dzong, Trashigang

20th-23rd November

09th-11th November


Jambay Lhakhang Singye Cham

Jambay Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang

27th November

15th November


Nalakhar Tsechu

Ngaa Lhakhang, Choekhor, Bumthang

27th-29th November

15th-17th November


Trongsa Tsechu

Trongsa Dzong, Trongsa

20th-22nd December

08th-10th December


Lhuentse Tsechu

Lhuentse Dzong, Lhuentse

20th -22nd December

08th-10th December


Druk Wangyel Tsechu

Dochula, Thimphu

13th December

13th December