Tibetan festivals are held according to the Tibetan lunnar calendar, which usually lags at least a month behind Gregorian calendar. The following are just some of the more important festivals:
|Tibetan New Year||22 Feb||11 Feb||22 Feb|
|Monlam Prayer Festival||25 Feb||14 Feb||25 Feb|
|Butter Lamp Festival||08 Mar||25 Feb||08 Mar|
|Saga Dawa Festival||04 Jun||25 May||04 Jun|
|Gyantse Horse Race||20 Jul||20 Jul||20 Jul|
|Thangka Display Tashilunpo||03 Jul||23 Jun||03 Jul|
|Zamling Chisang/Samye Dolde||03 Jul||23 Jun||03 Jul|
|Choekor Duechen/Tukbe Tseshi||23 Jul||12 Jul||23 Jul|
|Ganden Thangka Display||02 Aug||22 Jul||02 Aug|
|Shoton Festival||17-22 Aug||06-11 Aug||17-22 Aug|
|Labrang Festival||25 Aug||14 Aug||25 Aug|
|Nagchu Horse Racing Festival||10-16 Aug||10-16 Aug||10-16 Aug|
|Yushu (Jye Kundo) Horse Racing Festival||25 Jul||25 Jul||25 Jul|
|Litang Horse Racing Festival (Not permanent)||01-5 Aug||01-5 Aug||01-5 Aug|
|Lhabab Duechen Festival||06 Nov||04 Nov||13 Nov|
|Palden Lhamo Festival||28 Nov||17 Dec||06 Dec|
|Ganden Nga-Choe||08 Dec||27 Dec||16 Dec|
February / March
Tibetan New Year ( Losar)
It is the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered as the starting of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 A.D., The first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. On the new year's the families unite ' auspicious dinner' is offered and the auspicious words ' tashi delek' are greeted. There are performances of Tibetan drama and pilgrims making incense offering, the streets are thronged with Tibetans dressed in their finest. It is the most colorful festival of Lhasa.
Butter Lamp Festival ( Lantern Festival)
The Butter Lamp Festival is celebrated on the 15th of the first month every year. Monks from monasteries and local artists make various-shaped butter flowers with colored butter in pyramids in front the Jokhang Temple. In the evening, after the butter lamps are lit, their lights look just like stars dazzling in the sky. The pyramids made of butter include of immortals, animals, flying birds, beasts, and flowers.
Saga Dawa festival
It is called the festival to free captive animals in local custom. Through the whole fourth month, monks don't eat meat and don't commit slaughter. They only concentrate themselves on turning prayer wheels and reciting Buddha's scriptures. It is said that on the 1st of the fourth month is the day that Shakyamuni was born, became enlightened and achieved nirvana. And you will see large numbers of pilgrims at Lhasa's Jokhang, on the Barkor circuit and also Mt.Kailash.
Gyantse Horse-racing Festival
Horse race and archery are generally popular in Tibet, and Gyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse race, archery, and shooting on gallop followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicking. Presently ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, barter trade are in addition to the above.
Mountian Worship Festival
The holy mountain festival begins on the fourth day of the sixth Tibetan month and commemorates Sakyamuni's (Buddha's) first sermon. People go to monasteries to pay their respects to the Buddha. Circumambulation around the mountains is a very popular practice during the festival. Picnicking, singing and dancing are also part of the event. Mt.Kailash is a very popular journey at this stage.
It is one of the major festivals in Tibet, also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival. The founder of the Gelugpa (Yellow Sect of Buddhism), Tsongkhapa set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoor in summer, to avoid killing other creatures carelessly. This rule must be carried out till the seventh lunar month. Then Buddhists go outdoors, accept yoghurt served by local people, and have fun. During the period, giant Thangkas of the Buddha is displayed at Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery on the first day, operas and masked dances are held at Norbulingka.
It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, the water in the river becomes purest and cures diseases. During its appearance for one week, usually the end of the seventh and beginning of the eighth lunar months, all the people in Tibet go into the river to wash away the grime of the previous year.
Nagqu Horse-racing Festival
There are many horse racing festivals in Tibet, the one in Nagqu of Northern Tibet is the greatest. August is the golden season on Northern Tibet's vast grassland. Herdsmen, on their horsebacks, in colorful dresses, carrying tents and local products, pour into Nagqu. Soon they form a city of tents. Various exciting programs are held, such as horse racing, yak racing, archery, horsemanship and commodity fair.
The Onkor ( Harvest Festival)
It is celebrated when the crops ripen, usually the first week of August. The festival is observed only in farming villages. People walk around their fields to thank the gods and deities for a good year's harvest. Singing, dancing, and horse racing are indispensable folk activities.