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5 festivals to experience in the Land of the Thunder Dragon

Royal Highland Festival

Celebrate the ancient traditions of Bhutan’s communities


May 6, 2024 (IANSlifeAs Bhutan marks the 50th anniversary of opening its doors to foreign tourists this year, there is no better way to experience the culture and soul of the country than through its calendar of over 150 festivals per year. Festivals are a key part of Bhutanese culture, and the Kingdom has a comprehensive festival calendar full of colour and atmosphere.

From mystical dances that give life to Bhutan's ancient myths to the rhythms that have echoed through the Kingdom's mountains for centuries, Bhutan’s variety of festivals will prepare travellers to immerse themselves in the unique cultural experience of the Land of the Thunder Dragon.

Genekha Matsutake Mushroom Festival
15th-16th August 2024
The Genekha Matsutake Mushroom Festival, celebrated in Thimphu, is a two-day event celebrated on the 15th and 16th of August. The festival aims to promote sustainable harvesting of mushrooms, create local awareness about wild edible mushrooms, and showcase the local cuisines. The festival offers a variety of activities, such as displays of indigenous sports and stalls showcasing local products like wild mushrooms, non-wood products, and high-breed agricultural seeds. Festival-goers can also relish traditional dishes like mushroom soup and curry. The festival also features traditional performances showcasing the region's unique heritage, such as mask and folk dances, along with exhibitions and displays.


Thimphu Tshechu
13th- 15th September 2024
The Thimphu Tshechu is an awe-inspiring event in the Bhutanese capital that brings locals and tourists worldwide together. Thimphu Tshechu is a grand celebration dedicated to spreading the teachings of Guru Rinpoche, the second Buddha, and commemorating his legacy. During three days of lively festivities, the festival is full of colourful dances and ritual ceremonies that depict the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. Said to be one of the most popular events for locals and tourists alike, Thimphu Tshechu leaves a lasting impression on all of its visitors.


Royal Highland Festival
23rd-24th October 2024
The Royal Highland Festival, which celebrates the ancient traditions of Bhutan’s highland communities, is scheduled from October 23rd to 24th, 2024. The festival will be held in the beautiful district of Laya, in the highlands of Bhutan. It will showcase the authentic, simple lives of the highlanders through a range of activities, including highland animal competitions, folk dances, and age-old traditional offerings. One of the festival's highlights is the scenic 25 km Laya Run, which begins at Ponjothang, the point where the drivable road ends. Visitors will travel along the banks of the mighty Mochu River until they reach the festival ground. This year, the festival will also mark the start of the Snowman Race, considered as one of the hardest ultramarathons in the world.


Zhemgang Bird Festival
13th-15th November 2024
The annual Zhemgang Bird Festival is another popular festival that takes place in November. Located in the eco-tourism capital of Zhemgang, the festival is a scenic 6-hour drive away from Thimphu. Visitors from both local and foreign lands flock to this festival to witness over 500 bird species living in the Zhemgang region. The three-day festival promotes eco-tourism and will feature cultural and entertaining performances by local bands, dancers, singers, and traditional Bhutanese musicians. Visitors can sample the local Bhutanese cuisine at the food stalls, participate in competitions and games, and enjoy a hike along the beautiful bird-watching trails. It promises to be a traditional Bhutanese festival that will be remembered for a long time.