The Grand Paro Spring Festival

During the diffusion of Buddhism in the Himalayas, Bhutan became a sanctuary for practitioners and teachings. Over the centuries, sacred dances have been the most popular medium of transmitting teachings to laity. There are 3 categories of sacred dances: magical manifestation (trulpi zumthrulgi garcham), visionary (kater dhagnangi garcham) and hagiographic (namthar zhicholgyi garcham). A multitude of accomplished masters founded myriad dance traditions from 14th to 17th century across Bhutan: Terton Dorji Lingpa (1346-1405), Sakya Lama Thinley Rabyang (1505-65), Fourth Zhamarpa Chokyi Drakpa (1453-1524), Terton Sherab Mebar (1255-1315/1375-1435), Gyalse Kunga Gyeltshen (1689-1713) and Khedrup Kunga Wangpo. Terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), fourth of the five king treasure finders, founded a quintessential dance tradition inspired by treasure teachings and prophetic visions. Some of the dances are recognized as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.

Excerpted from “Sacred Dances of Bhutan”

LOSAR TASHI DELEK! Happy New Year Greetings!

Spring is the time when the temperate valleys in Bhutan warm-up after long winter. Birds make spring calls and animals come out of burrows. The leafy willows are first to open their buds and peach blossoms announce a new year of bounteous harvest. Spring is in the air. A festive mood stirs in the valleys.

Locals await their annual communal festival called Tshechu to renew faith and pay homage to their Patron-saint Guru Padmasambhava hallowed as the second Buddha in the Himalayan Buddhist world. Dedicatory prayers, lavish offerings and sacred dances are performed to observe and receive blessings from the founding saints such as Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) and Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1651). Tshechu is also a joyous occasion to wear the season’s best, to see and be seen, and to share delicacies with loved ones.

Choedril (choe: dharma, dril: gong) is resounded across valleys, announcing the heart-warming SPRING FESTIVALS of Punakha Dromchoe (the spring procession) and Grand Paro Tshechu to bring harmony, prosperity and happiness around the world. The two well-attended festivals herald the start of a new farming cycle in western Bhutan. Please check the festival dates to plan your trip and catch the two festivals. Contact Holidays Bhutan Team for any inquiry.

As a seasoned travel host, Holidays Bhutan believes in making memorable connections between our guests and the destination. We look forward to hosting your personal/private/group Festival Tours in Bhutan filled with joy, laughter and happiness.


Holidays Bhutan cultural tour guide will greet and receive our guests at the Paro international for swift 15-minute transfer to the hotel. Refresh and join the welcome tea, formal introduction and tour briefing.

Paro Valley is 2,200 masl and located in western Bhutan.

Visit the 7 th -century Kyichu Temple, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.

Visit the historic Ta Dzong (watch tower) and Rinpung Dzong, the fortress on a heap of jewels. Observe the resident monks of the fortress rehearsing dance choreography for the festival days. The Watch Tower is a must-visit, which remains closed on Sunday and throughout the festival, an exclusive public holiday for the schools, public offices and institutions in Paro district.

If our guests are interested to dress up for the festival and experience the local costume and culture, our cultural guide will help our guests wear Gho for men/ Kira for women, the national dress of Bhutan. You can also try the traditional boots to pair with the dress.

Meals included: Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

Attend the opening day of the 5-day Paro Spring Festival inside the courtyard of Paro Dzong.

Holidays Bhutan would urge our guests to attend the First & Last days of the festival. The opening day of the festival is called Nangcham, which presents exclusive dances inside the courtyard of the fortress, and exhibiting the fortress’s artifacts, relics and treasures.

Festival Highlights of the First day:

  1. New Year Greetings and welcome dance by the three beloved Atsaras, divine jesters who will entertain and manage the crowd during the festival.
  2. Exorcism dance of the Black-hat dance enacting the legend of Guru Padmasambhava’s disciple Pelge Senge subjugating the Ox-headed Anti-dharma King in Tibet.
  3. The first day features the Shinje dance, which clears the obstructions through out the festival and pacifies the haughty earth spirits.
  4. Degyad Cham The esoteric dance of the Eight Spirits. The dance propitiates the 8 spirits of the 3 realms of heaven, earth and nether world: Lu (nagas), Dud (demons), Tsen (mountain spirits), Gyalpo (arrogant spirits), Za (planetary spirits), Mamo (nocturnal spirits), Nodjin (yakshas) and Shinje (yamas).
  5. The region’s intangible cultural heritage folk dance called Wochubi Zhay, which originated in the locality Wochu. Zhay is a unique genre of Bhutanese folk song and dance, which flourished in the 17th century after the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in Bhutan in 1616. There are 4 regional zhays across Bhutan: Wochubi Zhay in Paro, Goen Zhay in Gasa, Wang zhay in Thimphu and Nubi Zhay in Mangdue, central Bhutan.
  6. Traditional folksongs & dances by local performing artists.
  7. Dramyen Choezhay The slow-paced sing-and-dance performance by monk militia initiated by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the 16 th century.
  8. A treasure cymbal, one of the main relics in the fortress is ceremoniously and secretly played only for a few minutes during the black-hat dance on the first day. Devotees flock to listen to the sacred sound of the instrument, which is believed to liberate at hearing. Terton Sherab Mebar revealed the treasure cymbal from lake Tsho Na Patra in Haa, western Bhutan in the 13 th century.
Check out the lively Festival night-life in town.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Bumthang

Stopover at the Dochula Pass for tea/coffee and enjoy the spectacular view of the pan-Himalayas from the 3,100-mt mountain pass.

Please check the festival dates to catch the Dochula Druk Wangyal festival observed every December on the pass with the spectacular Himalayas in the background. The festival was established in 2011.

Enjoy a short walk to the popular Temple of Fertility in Punakha. Learn about the beloved saint Drukpa Kunley (1455-1529), whose songs and stories of spiritual realization continue to influence and shape the Bhutanese socio-cultural life.

Go meet the Takin in the Motithang Takin Zoo in Thimphu, the national animal of Bhutan. Listen to the legend of how Drukpa Kunley created this hybrid mythical animal. This golden brown lumbering animal, about the size of a cow, is scientifically classified as a goat-antelope (Budorcas Taxicolor). Females weigh between 200 to 500 kilos and males between 400 to1000 kilos.

Please have an open mind as you take the walk of fame to the temple through the village proudly exhibiting their phallic house paintings, souvenir arts and crafts.

Visit Kaja Throm Market in Khuruthang, meet local vendors and farmers and learn about the local Bhutanese fresh farm produce and food preservation techniques.

Please check the festival dates to catch the festival in the courtyard of the historic fortress.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Punakha

In the afternoon, visit the 400-year-old Pungthang Dechen Phodrang, the palace of great bliss and learn about Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1651), the founding father of Bhutan. The castle fortress is an epitome of Bhutanese architecture housing national relics and finest Buddhist frescos including the popular 12 episodes of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha inside the grand assembly hall.

Every spring, the fortress hosts the 3-day Dromchoe festival, where resident monks perform sacred masked dances. The festival also features enactment of Pazap, the Bhutanese standing army initiated by Zhabdrung in the 17 th century. It is the first festival to usher in the Traditional New Year on the Bhutanese traditional calendar.

For morning activity, our guests have options: Cycling the ridge over-looking the valley/ kayaking or rafting/ light-to-moderate hiking to Khamsum Yullay Namgyel Stupa/ bird watching.

Stopover at Dochula Pass for tea-coffee and enjoy the spectacular view of the Himalayas.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Thimphu

Visit the Motithang Takin Reserve. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. Drive to Sangaygang viewpoint and enjoy the refreshing view of Thimphu City. Hoist prayer flags on the viewpoint hill for your good fortune and long life and send your prayers on the wind for world peace and harmony.

Visit the National Institute of Zorig Chusum where you can watch and learn about the thirteen arts and crafts of Bhutan. The institute remains closed on Sunday & public holidays. Check out the National Library, established in 1967, which houses comprehensive Buddhist cannons and the world’s largest book on display.

Visit the Royal Textile Academy of Bhutan/ museum (instituted in 2005) and learn about the history and craft of textile weaving in Bhutan.

Stroll through the craft market showcasing the authentic crafts of rural Bhutanese artisans.

Join the locals in their daily circumambulation / Kora of the city’s landmark Memorial Stupa, which was built in 1974 in memory of the late third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

Visit the Changlimithang National Stadium archery range to watch an archery match, the national sport of Bhutan. Bhutanese are keen and enthusiastic archers and known for their marksmanship. Our guests can try the sport on traditional equipment in one of the hotel campus.

Drive to Paro: leisure stroll and shopping through the streets of Paro town.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

Today is the last day of Festival. For locals the day starts at pre-dawn. They wait in the courtyard of Dhayangkha (festival venue) to witness the ceremonious unfurling of the world-famous Padmasambhava’s Thongdrol, the giant embroidered relic and work of art.

The day is attended by thousands of local devotees across Bhutan, pilgrims from neighboring countries and well-wishers around the globe. Ponlop Dragpa Gyamtsho handcrafted the world’s largest embroidery work of art measuring 85 feet wide, 50 feet tall and weighs 454 kgs.

Hike to the spectacular Taktsang, literally called the Tiger’s Nest, takes between 2-4 hours depending on the walking pace. The first temple complex was built in 1692, which was blessed by Padmasambhava as a power-place and treasure trove in the 8th century. The magical site has attracted some of the legendary Buddhist saints and treasure discoverers who attained spiritual realizations and revealed treasure teachings from the site.

Guests have options between foot-hike and pony ride up to the Tiger’s Nest.

The 2-3-hour moderate climb traverses mixed forests of oak, pine and rhododendron and finally descending to a waterfall cascading down a 2000-ft vertical cliff.

Hike down and drive back for herbal body massage and traditional hot-stone bath. Later in the evening, attend a cultural show and farewell dinner. Formal closing session by Holidays Bhutan team.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Paro

This morning/afternoon we see you off at the airport to catch your flight to Bangkok or other gateway cities to connect with your international flight to next destination.