This is a list of the major holidays in Tibet and for Tibetans around the world. If you want to experience a Tibetan festival or holiday on your trip to Tibet, check the list below, then talk to your Tibet travel agent for details. (For help connecting to a reliable Tibetan agent, ask us for help. )
If you’re planning to visit Tibet, you should also know that no independent travel is allowed and you must work with a travel agency. We advise that you choose a Tibetan-owned agency, which hires Tibetan guides only. The simplest way to do this is ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent. (Note to our Indian friends: Due to government policies our agents in Tibet cannot help Indian nationals going to Kailash.)
2024 Travel Advisory:
China is piloting visa-free programs for certain countries for entry to China, but all international travelers to Tibet also require a special Tibet permit.
US travelers must have both a Chinese visa (which you get on your own in the US) and a special Tibet travel permit, which you must get from an official Tibet travel agency. Starting January 1, 2024, China is simplifying the visa process for Americans, removing required proof of round-trip flights, hotel reservations and itinerary.
Tibetan Holidays in 2024
Losar (Tibetan New Year) February 10, 2024
The largest Tibetan festival. Unfortunately, Lhasa and the whole T.A.R. are usually (but not always) restricted from foreign travelers during Losar. Losar starts on the 1st day of the 1st month of the Tibetan Calendar, and lasts 3 to 15 days. On the eve of New Year’s Eve, the 29th (Nyi shu gu) day of the 12th month, Tibetans eat guthuk with their families. Learn how Tibetans celebrate Losar >>
Saka Dawa May 9 – June 6 [Full moon day = May 23]
A full month — the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar — honoring Shakyamuni Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. One’s deeds are considered multiplied during this time, so Tibetans often give alms to beggars and refrain from eating meat. Learn more about Saka Dawa >>
Zamling Chisang Jun 22
Universal Prayer Day. In central Tibet, on the 15th day of the fifth month in the Tibetan calendar, Tibetans go to the tops of local mountains to burn incense and hang prayer flags.
Choekhor Duechen July 9
Honoring the day that the Buddha Shakyamuni first taught the four noble truths in Sarnath, India, and first turned the wheel of the dharma. Also called drukpa tse shi, which means the 4th day of the 6th month of the Tibetan calendar.
Shoton (Yogurt) Festival September 30 start
Especially famous at Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, where a huge thangkha (guku) is displayed on the hill next to the monastery and thousands gather to see it and pray before going on to picnic and hear Tibetan opera at the Norbulingka Palace grounds. The celebration starts on the 30th day of the 7th month of the Tibetan calendar and it goes for 7 days. (On the 29th day, there is a ritual dance at Drepung.)
Lha-Bab Duchen November 22
A day of prayer honoring the Buddha Shakyamuni’s descent from the heavenly realms to the earth. It is the 22nd day of the 9th month on the Tibetan calendar.
Ganden Ngachu December 25
Anniversary of the death of the great Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans make butter lamp offerings at home and in monasteries on the 25th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan calendar.