As the top of Tibet’s peak tourism season, July and August of Tibet offer tourists both fascinating picturesque natural scenery and rich Tibetan festive activities. Especially Shoton festival, the most important festival throughout Tibet, attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world to Lhasa. Making a Tibet tour in July and August can experience profound Tibetan culture and the festal atmosphere of Tibet. 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.
July and August are also considered as the best time to visit Tibet because the weather is fine and you can go anywhere of Tibet. But it is best to book train/air tickets in advance since it might be difficult to get one due to the large demand.
Shoton Festival One Day Tour
Experience the grandest festival for Tibetan. You will enjoy a big feast of Tibetan performances, Tibetan Buddhist activities and Tibetan food.
Jul. 10, 2014 Tashi Lhunpo Festival
With a history over 500 years, Tashilhunpo Monastery Festival, also known as Buddha Exhibition Festival in Tashilhunpo Monastery enjoys high popularity among local Tibetans and tourists. The festival usually erupts for three days in the middle of the fifth lunar Tibetan month, from May 14th-16th in Tibetan Calendar every year. The highlight of this festival is that thangkas of different Buddhas would be unveiled on each day during this festival, Dipankara (Buddha of the Past) on the first day, Shakyamuni (Buddha of the Present) on the second day and Maitreya (Buddha of the Future) on the third day. Cham dances are also performed on this festival.
Both the lamas and the followers of Tibetan Buddhism would show their respect to the Buddha and pray for blessing by kowtow or some other religious activities
During this festival, local Tibetans would stop hunting and abstain from meat and wine, and also free captive animals and do some kind works. Thus, tourists are highly advised to respect their traditions.
Jul. 12, 2014 Samye and Trandruk Cham Festival
The cham dance, also spelled tscham or chaam, is a lively masked and costumed dance associated with some sects of Buddhism, and is part of Buddhist festivals. The dance is accompanied by music played by monks using traditional Tibetan instruments. The dances often offer moral instruction relating to compassion for sentient beings and are held to bring merit to all who perceive them.
Cham dances are considered a form of meditation, and an offering to the gods. The leader of the cham is typically a musician, keeping time using some percussion instrument like cymbals, the one exception being Dramyin Cham - where time is kept using dramyin.
The Cham festival at Samye and Trandruk would be held from the 15th for two or three days. Special ceremonies and cham dancing in front of the utse are the main attractions. Pilgrims and monks from distant monasteries would journey to Samye to watch masked dances and obtain the blessing of Buddha who descends to earth bringing peace and happiness.
Jul. 31, 2014 Chokor Duchen festivals
Chokor Duchen Festival is one of the four great seasonal festivals (Losar, Saga Dawa, Chokor Duchen and Lhabab Duchen) celebrated by all Tibetan Buddhists. During those times, it is believed that the effects of positive or negative actions are multiplied ten million times.
Chokhor means “Prayer Wheel” or “Dharma Wheel”, the common religious objects in Tibet, and Duchen means “great occasion” in Tibetan. This festival held in Lhasa on the 4th day of the 6th month of Tibetan calendar celebrates Buddha’s first sermon at Sarnath near Varanasi in India. Many pilgrims climb the Mt. Gyambu Utse, the peak behind Drepung Monastery, and also the ridge from Pabonka to the Dode Valley, to burn the incense and hang prayer flags. The festival is also called Drukwa Tsezhi.
Tradition has it that Buddha was not convinced through his own reflections that teaching what he had discovered through his meditations would be of any benefit to others. It took the intercession of the great gods, Brahma and Indra, to persuade him to do so for the benefit of all sentient beings. The Buddha then addressed the five people who had been his companions during the time spent with the forest yogins concerning the Truth of Suffering, and the other Noble Truths.
Aug. 10, 2014 Ganden Thangka Festival
The Ganden Festival is held on the 15th day of the sixth lunar month of Tibetan Calendar in memory of the enlightenment of Tsongkhapa, a well-known Tibetan religious philosopher. During this festival, Ganden Monastery would display its 25 holiest relics, which are normally locked away. A large offering ceremony accompanies the unveiling.
The highlight is that Ganden's monks would hang enormous thangka from the special wall at the northern corner of the monastery where it can be seen from the surrounding countryside. Thousands of people would circle the monastery, enter inside to view the Buddhas, pray, and get blessed, and then they go outside to sit on the hill or try to get close to the wall where the big and vividly woven thangka is displayed. Some poor people would walk for weeks to get to the place before sunrise that day.
Aug. 25, 2014 Shoton Festival or Yogurt Festival
Shoton Festival is one of the grandest traditional festivals for all Tibetan people. It is a celebration to mark the end of the monks 'Yarné, their hundred day summer retreat. This festival starts on the last day of the sixth month in Tibetan Calendar and lasts for a few days. "Shoton" in Tibetan means sour milk banquet. As Tibetan operas are performed and Buddha paintings are exhibited at this time, it is also called "Tibetan Opera Festival" or "Buddha Exhibition Festival".
Early in the morning, Drepung and Sera monasteries will hang a piece of huge thangkha and then after that most of the Tibetans will go to Norbu lingkha to watch Tibetan opera dancing and then spend the rest of the time with their families by having a picnics. The festival is a great occasion for both Tibetans and tourists.
Aug. 10-15, 2014 Nagqu Horse Racing Festival
The Nagqu Horse Racing Festival is the grandest annual event in northern Tibet. Tens of thousands of herdmen gather on the vast grassland dotted with tents to enjoy the horse riding competition, yak race, tug of war, stone-lifting and Tibetan operas.
August is the golden season for tourists to sightsee the vast and beautiful green grassland covered by flower. During this time, the grass is the tallest and the weather is most accommodating to those who enjoy the great outdoors. This festival is also an exhibition and trading of local stuff among Tibetan people.
Few days before the opening ceremony of Horsing Race Festival, traditionally dressed and decorated Tibetans living on this immense grassland gather at Naqu County to set up their tents around horse racing track, hundreds of tents stand and are packed there within a few days, as if a crowed temporary city suddenly appeared on grassland.
August, 2014 Ong Kor Festival
Ongkor Festival, also known as Bumper Harvest Festival, is held in August according to Tibetan calendar when all crops are waiting for harvest. "Ongkor" in Tibetan means "surrounding the farmland." This festival originated in the valley at the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River. The initial form is offering sacrifices to gods by natural villages to pray for a good harvest. Nowadays, the celebration activities are enriched to horse racing, shooting, dancing and singing, Tibetan traditional Opera, stone lifting and wrestling. People show all their contentment and happiness on bumper harvest during the festival celebration.
The “Ongkor” is also a good time for farmers to have a rest. Since crops ripen in different times, the festival is held accordingly.