Though January and February are always regarded as the low season of Tibet's tourism due to the cold weather, it is a great time to experience Tibetan culture and local customs. At the beginning of the New Year, Tibetans celebrate good harvest of the last year and pray for a good life and harvest in the new year. Many pligrims go to visit monasteries and temples in this slack farming season. In front of Jokhang Temple, there are hundreds of pilgrims each day. Moreover, tourists can enjoy considerable discount in all aspects.
Farmers New Year Festival
Date: January 31, 2014
Tibetan farmers will celebrate their own new year called Farmers' New Year before the Tibetan lunar new year (aka Tibetan New Year). In the countryside of Shigatse, you can see groups of farmers dancing and singing around their fields to celebrate their harvest of the last year and pray for a good harvest of the coming year.
Guthuk or Year End Festival
Date: February 28, 2014
The last two days of the old year is called Guthuk in Tibet. People begin to prepare for the new year, like cleaning their houses and preparing food. They eat a soup called Guthuk at the night on December 29 in Tibetan calendar and then hold a ceremony of exorcising Ghost. They also visit monasteries to worship Buddha and give gifts to monks.
Tibetan New Year or Losar
Date: March 2, 2014
Losar is celebrated for 15 days in the first Tibetan month. It is the grandest traditional festival in Tibetan calendar. Locals begin to prepare for the festival one month in advance and actually start to celebrate it two days before the new year. The festival mixes sacred and secular practices of prayers, ceremonies, hanging prayer flags, folk performances, visiting friends, exchanging gifts, etc.
Though unexhausted chill might hit Nyingchi in March now and then, Nyingchi has become a sea of peach blossoms. The beautiful peach blossoms and the snow-capped Namjagbarwa in distance form fascinating scenery in Nyingchi. Looking at a distance, it appears that snowy mountains are embracing huge layers of pink clouds.
Spring comes in eastern Tibet earlier than the rest of Tibet. Tourists are highly recommended to make a visit to Nyingchi. This area has become quite warm and green when Lhasa is still cold. Praised as the Switzerland in Tibet, Nyingchi is a fantastic place with Mt. Namjagbarwa – the most beautiful mountain in China, and the world-famous Yalong Zangpu Grand Canyon. The most grand traditional festival, Tibetan New Year will fall in early March next year, offering travelers a great opportunity to experience local cuture.
It becomes warmer in April and May at most areas of Tibet and Tibet gradually turns into the peak tourism season. The number of tourists travelling to Tibet keeps increasing since the beginning of April. April and May are regarded as the best time for mountaineering enthusiasts to conquer Mt. Everest. Flocks of climbers with different colors gather at Everest Base Camp, turning the base camp into a small UN. For tourists, it is also a great time to visit Everest as you will get a chance to witness those brave climbers as well as enjoy a close view of the world highest peak.
Date: June 8, 2014
During this festival, interesting religious Cham dances can be seen and a huge Thangka is unveiled.
Gyantse Horse Racing Festival
Date: June 8, 2014
The fun and games include dance, yak races, archery and equestrian events. A large 480-year old thangkha is unfurled at sunrise.
Saga Dawa Festivals
Date: June 13, 2014
It marks the date of Sakyamuni’s conception, enlightenment and entry into nirvana. Huge numbers of pilgrims walk Lhasa’s lingkhor circuit and visit Mt Kailash.
Two main festivals in June 2014 are held in Shigatse, one is Gyantse Horse Racing Festival and another is Tashilhunpo Festival, thus Shigatse is the highlights of this month. in another hand, the weather is fine without large amount of rainfall. Grasslands gradually turn green and herdsmen begin to move to the grasslands to start a new year’s work. If driving though the grasslands, you can see flocks of sheep or yaks dotting the green land. June is a wonderful time to visit the Heavenly Lake Namtso and the Nyainqentanglha Range north of Lhasa. The warm weather also offers a best chance to trek in Tibet. No wonder, the number of tourists to Tibet starts increasing rapidly.
July and August are the top season for Tibet tour due to the fine weather, breathtaking natural landscapes and various festivals, especially the most popular Shoton Festival. Flocks of tourists would rush to Lhasa to experience Tibetan culture and the festal atmosphere. The grassland of northern Tibet also welcomes its golden time with thousands of flowers in bloom and blue Namtso lake like a blue pearl on the Tibetan plateau. The annual Nagchu Horse Racing Festival held in August attracts thousands of Tibetans and tourists to the grassland to have fun together.
Date: July 10, 2014
Shigatse’s Tashilhunpo Festival is a great occassion popular among both Tibetans and tourists. A huge thangkha is unveiled and cham dances are performed.
Samye and Trandruk Cham Festival
Date: July 12, 2014
Cham Festival is respectively held in Samye and Trandruk monasteries for two or three days from the 15th day of the 5th Tibetan lunar month. Special ceremonies and cham dancing are the main attractions.
Choerkor Dhuchen Festival
Date: July 31, 2014
This festival celebrates Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi in India. Many pilgrims climb the Mt gyambu utse and also the ridge from pabonka to the dode valley, to burn the incense.
Ganden thangka Festival
Date: August 10, 2014
On that day Ganden monastery displays its 25 holiest relics, which are normally locked away. A large offering ceremony accompanies the unveiling ceremony.
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival
Date: Aug 10-15, 2014
Nagqu Horse Racing Festival is the grandest annual event in northern Tibet. August is the golden season on the vast grasslands of Nagqu Prefecture. The grassland is the most beautiful in a year and the weather is most comfortable for outdoor activities.
Date: August 25, 2014
Early in the morning, Drepung and Sera monasteries will respectively hang a piece of huge thangkha. After the thangka unveiling ceremony, most Tibetans will go to Norbu lingkha to watch Tibetan opera and dancing performances, and then spend the rest of the time with their families by having a picnic.
Ong kor Festival
Date: August, 2014
Ongkor Festival is an old festival in farming areas of Tibet held in each August according to Tibetan calendar when all crops are waiting for harvest.
Tibetan people Believe that the water in this period has an extreme magic power to cure all, so they swarm to the riverside to take baths.
Autumn comes to Tibet in September, making Tibet like a rainbow with a wide range of colors. The temperature in Tibet is becoming cooler from hot, but it is not very cold in Tibet during Sep. and Oct. The sky is clear, clouds are pale, air is fresh and temperature is comfortable. It is still a great time to trek in Tibet and watch all kinds of wild animals on the Tibetan plateau. You will feel quite comfortable to go anywhere of Tibet, especially the sacred Mt. Kailash and holy Lake Manasarovar.
Winter comes to Tibet and most areas of Tibet witness snow since late October. There are no crowds of tourists, but flocks of pilgrims in Lhasa. It is a perfect season to visit all kinds of temples in Tibet and watch pilgrims at all ages. The best time to view Mt. Everest also comes after November when the rainy season of Tibet ends. Without much mist, Mt. Everest shows its panorama nearly all the day
Festival of Buddha's Descent from Heaven
Date: November 13, 2014
During that time there are a large number of pilgrims in Lhasa. Ladders are painted afresh on rocks around many monasteries to symbolize the event.
Pelhe Doenchar or Palden Lhamo's Festival
Date: December 6, 2014
Palden Lhamo Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the 10th month of the Tibetan calender, is celebrated by the female followers of Tibetan Buddhism to pray for a satisfactory marriage each year.
Ganden Ngamchoe or Tsongkha pa festival
Date: December 16, 2014
Tibetans show respect to Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Geluk pa order of Tibetan Buddhism. With the remembrance of Tsongkha pa all the monasteries and households light yak butter lamps.