Reputed as the paradise for trekkers, Nepal is also a great land of festivals. No matter when you visit Nepal, you'll be certain to encounter at least one of the country's hilarious festivals. Although people don't have holidays for all the festivals, enthusiastic Nepalis still attach great importance to them.
Celebrations vary from epic masked dances to the grand national tugs of war, which must be a splendid feast for your eyes. If you want to experience the retro scenes of the Middle Ages, I recommend you to attend the festivals with impressive chariot parades, like Chaitra Dasain, Bisket Jatra, Indra Jatra, Rato Machhendranath, etc. Here you'll see hundreds of sincere followers drag the 20-meter-high chariots through the crowed streets of Kathmandu and Patan.
Generally speaking, accurate festival dates change with Nepal’s lunar calendar, which won't be announced by the official in advance. Therefore, it's almost impossible for us to pinpoint exactly when the festival will be celebrated. Here we have listed Nepali big festivals in the month they usually fall on, with Nepali lunar months in comparison. Meanwhile, some Tibetan festivals like Losar Festival are also celebrated in Nepal.
Nepal Festivals & Calendar
|Nepal Festivals||Solar Calendar||Nepal Calendar||Active Region||Related Tour Itinerary|
|Magh Sankranti||January - Feburary||Magh||Nationwide||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Saraswati Puja / Basanta Panchami||January - Feburary||Magh||Swayambhunath, Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Tibetan New Year / Losar Festival||January - Feburary||Magh||Boudhanath, Nationwide||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Maha Shivaratri||Feburary - March||Falgun||Pashupatinath||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Holi / Festival of Colors
(Nepal popular festival)
|Feburary - March||Falgun||Nationwide||Celebrate Nepal Water Festival with locals|
|Chaitra Dasain / Small Dasain||March - April||Chaitra||Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Bisket Jatra / Nepali New Year
||April - May||Baisakh||Bhaktapur, Nationwide||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Buddha Jayanti / Buddha's Birthday||May - June||Jeth||Swayambhunath, Bodhnath, Lumbini, Nationwide||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Naga Panchami||July - August||Saaun||Nag Pokhari in Naxal, Taudaha, Nationwide||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Gai Jatra / Cow Festival||August - September||Bhadra||Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Teej / Nepal Women’s Festival||August - September||Bhadra||Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Indra Jatra||August - September||Bhadra||Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Pachali Bhairab||September - October||Ashoj / Ashiwin||Kathmandu||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Dashain / Bijaya Dashami
(Nepal's biggest festival)
|September - October||Ashoj / Ashiwin||Nationwide||Experience the most auspicious festival in Nepal|
|Tihar / Festival of Lights
(Second only to Dashain)
|October - November||Kartik||Nationwide||Appreciate the colorful lights and honor dogs, cows, etc|
|Mani Rimdu||October - November||Kartik||Tengboche Temple, Thame Temple||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
|Sita Bibaha Panchami||November - December||Mangsir||Janakpur||Contact us to tailor your own trip|
All Nepal Festivals That The Locals Will Celebrate
Dashain, similar to Chinese Spring Festival, is the biggest and longest annual festival in Nepal. Lasting for 15 days, it is held to celebrate the victory of the goddess Durgar over the evil. A large number of animals will be sacrificed during this auspicious festival. And people would go back home for family reunion. You'll see colorful kites flying in the blue sky and kids playing on the swings.
Tihar, also known as Diwali or Deepawali after the third day of the celebration, is the most important festival in India and second only to Dasain in Nepal. Famous for the colorful festive lights, it falls between late October and early November, lasting for five days. During this festival, people will honor some animals, like crows, dogs, cows and bullocks. On the fourth day, all the houses are cleaned and decorated with candles, lamps and colorful lights to welcome Lakshimi, the goddess of wealth. Thus, It's also called as Festival of Lights.
Holi, one of the most famous Nepalese festivals, is closely related to the Songkran Festival in Thailand and Myanmar. It falls on the full moon in the Nepali Fagu month. As the dry season comes to an end, the cooling water reminds us that the monsoon season is just around the corner. Fagu Purnima is also known as Festival of Colors, during which people make cheerful throws at each other by waters and paints. At this moment, foreign visitors would get special treatment. If you go out on this day, please leave the camera at home and put on old clothes.
Gai Jatra, aslo called as the Cow Festival, starts on the day after the full moon in Nepali Saaun month and is held to commemorate the people who died in the last year. The Newars believe that the deceased will be guided by the cows to the Yama, the god of the underworld. So it would be much easier for them to complete the journey if they could catch the cowstail. On this day, the cows will be led through the wide streets and narrow lanes in Nepal, and small kids would dress up as cows. You must be amazed at the marvelous sights on the streets of Bhaktapur.
Teej, also called as the Festival of Women, starts from the second to the fifth day after the new moon in Nepail Bhadra month and is particularly celebrated in Pashupatinath. During this three-day-long festival, you'll see Nepalese females dress in their beautiful red saris everywhere. The married women would pray Shiva for the healthy life of the families and the unmarried would hope to marry a good husband.
Indra Jatra, also known as Yenya, falls in Nepali Bhadra month and lasts for eight days. Following Gai Jatra, Indra Jatra festival is celebrated by Nepalese to pray to Indra and Dagini for a good harvest and commemorate the deceased in the past year. In fact, Yenya Festival consists of two parts, namely Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra. The celebrations of Indra Jatra include the flagpole ceremony, blood sacrifice, displays of Bhairava's masks, etc. During Kumari Jatra, the living goddess will take the chariot to march through the streets of Kathmandu.
As one of the few Nepalese festivals not timed with lunar calendar, the date of Magh Sankranti is determined by the north movement of winter sun. It usually occurs at the mid of January. On the new-moon day, Tribeni Mela will be held at various places, including Devghat of Terai, Ridi Bazaar and the confluence of Kali Gandaki and Ridi Khola, etc. At that time, tens of thousands of followers would bath in the holy Bagmati River.
Saraswati Puja / Basanta Panchami
People celebrate the coming of spring by worshiping Saraswati. Since Saraswati is the goddess of learning, this festival has special significance for the students. The most popular place for the locals to celebrate Basanta Panchami is Saravati Monastery in Swayambhunath. Of course, You can also attend this grand celebration in Kathmandu. Falling between Januanry and Feburary, it is regarded as a very auspicious time for marriages.
Tibetan New Year / Losar Festival
Tibetan New Year (Losar Festival) starts on the new moon in February and ends at Magh or Falgun. It's warmly celebrated at Bodhnath Stupa, Swayambhunath Monkey Temple, Tibetan community in Jawlakhel as well as the Solu Khumbu region by Sherpa people. At that time, all the Tibetan communities are indulged in the festive atmosphere. People exchange greetings and gifts with each other. The colorful prayer flags are hung around the houses,temples, pagodas, etc. And Nepalese carry out the traditional masked dances.
The birthday of Shivaaratri takes place on the new moon in Nepali Falgun month. Various kinds of celebrations are held in all the Shiva temples, and the scene is especially spectacular at Pashupatinath Temple. You'll see thousands of ascetic monks gather here from every corner of Nepal and India. When the masses bath in the holy Bagmati River, you’ll marvel at those magnificent views.
Chaitra Dasain, also known as small Dasain, is celebrated just six months before the Big Dasain. Both Dasain Festivals are held for the Goddess Durga. In the early morning, goats and buffaloes will be sacrificed in Kot Sq at Kathmandu. The worship of Chaitra Dasain also symbolizes the start of the one-month-long Seto Machhendranath.
Bisket Jatra / Navavarsha / Nepali New Year
Bisket Jatra, also famous as Nepal New Year Festival, starts at mid-April, the beginning of Nepali Baisket month. The Bisket Jatra chariot parade in Bhaktapur is the best event to celebrate this national holiday. It's also one of the most exciting annual celebrations in Nepal, attracting tourists from all over the world.
Buddha Jayanti / Buddha's Birthday
The birthday of the Buddha falls in Nepali Jeth month. On this day, Buddhists from the global swarm into Nepal and pay a visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha. People also have spectacular celebrations at Monkey Temple, Bodhnath and Patan. And the precious Thangka will be exhibited on the southern wall of the courtyard in Swayambhunath. You can catch the golden chance to observe monks dancing for the Buddha's birth.
On the fifth day after the new moon in Nepali Saaun month, the whole country will hold celebration to honor Naga. It's believed that the Naga has magically taken control of the monsoon rains. During this festival, people will post the pictures of Naga on the door for the peace and luck, and prepare food for the snakes, including a bowl of rice.
Mani Rimdu, a popular dancing festival among Sherpa People, is held at Tengboche Temple in the Solu Khumbu region. Timed by Tibetan calendar, it takes place in October or November and lasts for three days. The festival features masked dances and traditional opera to celebrate the victory of Buddhism over Bon religion. Another Mani Rimdu Festival is celebrated six months later at Thame Temple. It's just one day's walk from Namche Bazaar.
Pachali Bhairab takes place on the fourth day of the brightest fortnight in September or early October. The bloodthirsty nature of Bhairab means that there will be a large-scale sacrifice at this festival.
Sita Bibaha Panchami
Sita Bibaha Panchami falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in November or December. Millions of pilgrims swarm from Nepal and India to Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, to celebrate Sita’s marriage to Rama. The wedding will be shown again and you are likely to witness elephants carrying Rama’s portrait to Sita Temple.
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