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Tibetan New Year (February or March)

Celebrating Tibetan new year
This is the greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times when the peach tree was in blossom, it was considered the start of a new year. Since the development of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD., the first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. This day differs depending on exactly which calendar is used. For example, New Year's in Lhasa is always celebrated on different days than it is in Shigatse. Food and dancing abound!


 


Butter Oil Lantern Festival (February or March)

This festival is held on the 15th of the first lunar month. Huge yak-butter sculptures are placed around Lhasa's Barkhor circuit.

Saga Dawa Festival (May or June)
Saga Dawa Festival
Saga Dawa is the holiest Festival in Tibet celebrating Buddha's birth and Buddha's enlightenment. Almost everyone in Lhasa joins in circumambulations ("Koras") around the Jokhang, around the Potala and around the city itself. People tend to spend their late afternoon having a picnic at the "Dzongyab Lukhang" park behind the Potala Palace.


 Gyantse Horse Race & Archery (May or June)

Gyante Horse Race & Archery Festival
Horse races and archery are generally popular in Tibet, and Gyantse enjoys the prestige of being the earliest city in Tibetan history to hold a festival for them beginning in 1408. Contests in early times included horse races, archery, and shooting while galloping, followed by a few days' entertainment or picnicking. These days, ball games, track and field events, folk songs, dances, bartering and trade opportunities take place in addition to the above.

Changtang Chachen Horse Race Festival (August)

There are many horse racing festivals in Tibet, but the one in Nagqu in 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. In addition to horse racing, various exciting programs are held, such as yak racing, archery, horsemanship and a commodity fair.

 

Shoton (Yogurt) Festival (August)

Shoton FestivalThe Shoton or Yogurt Festival is also known as the Tibetan Opera Festival. Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa Sect of Buddhism, set the rule that Buddhists can cultivate themselves only indoors during the Summer to avoid killing other creatures carelessly. Living things are most active in the Summer. This rule must be carried out until the seventh lunar month. Then Buddhists go outdoors, accept the yoghurt served by local people, and have fun. At the middle of 17th century, the Fifth Dalai Lama added opera performance to this festival. Famous Tibetan opera troupes perform in the Norbulingka (the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace).

Bathing Festival (September)

It is believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky, that the water in the river becomes the most pure 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.

Kungbu Traditional Festival (November or December)

Long, long ago, when Tibet was in danger of a large scale invasion, the Kongpo people sent out an army to defend their homeland. It was in September and the soldiers worried that they might miss the New Year's celebrations, highland barley wine and other delicacies. So, the Tibetan New Year was celebrated on October 1st, ahead of time. To memorialize those brave soldiers, from that time onwards, Kongpo people have presented three sacrifices and stayed up at night.  This has now become the Kongpo Festival and features such entertainment as Kongpo dancing, horse racing, archery and shooting.
 

Harvest Festival (September)

The farmers in Lhasa, Gyantse and Lhokha celebrate their Summer harvest at this time. People enjoy horse racing games, costume fashion shows, song and dance, Archery, picnics, etc.

 


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