Winter Festivals are rare in Kingdom of Thunder Dragon, but an important and a colourful one is held every December near Thimphu– the capital. Come thirteenth December every year and get ready to feast your eyes upon one of the most incredible and vibrant tschechus (festivals) in the magical kingdom of Bhutan. A fairly new festival which has nevertheless gained much fame and status as one of the must-see tschechus in Bhutan, for both locals and visitors alike. This rare festival takes place at the 10,000ft high legendary Dochula Pass which offers stunning vistas of the Himalayan mountain range. Situated majestically, nature lovers will appreciate the lovely flora – with a verdant forest of rhododendron trees, blue pines, oaks and mesmerising seas of alpine flowers. This festival is also very unique in that unlike most other festivals that are held within the compounds of a Dzong, this one is held on a raised mound which render the performers to appear larger than life— specially when they swing and jump– appearing to be floating in the blue skies. Even when it is not the skies, it will still take your breath away as the backdrop will be the astounding Jigme Singye Wangchuk Mountain Range which act as a fantastic background as the dancers leap and dance in the air.
Even rarer than a festival in the winter will be a chance to see the Royal Family. That is because the opening of the Dochula Druk Wangyel Festival is normally graced ceremoniously by His Majesty where he ritually partakes in the offering of wine libation to the Gods. High monks will also be stationed at various positions of the festival grounds.
There are other good reasons to be here during this time. There aren’t many tourists…. the crops are in… villagers spend most of their time basking in the winter sun and more involved in the National Sports of Archery. The sky is crystal clear – most of the time– and as far as the eye can see the snowcapped mountains form a backdrop of brilliant white against the azure skies. On our very special winter tour every year, you will visit the remote valley of Haa and hike to temples and a nunnery. You will discover the colourful market in the capital and then head east to the warm Punakha valley, where you can hike to a hilltop chorten and visit the temple of the Divine Madman (famous for fertility blessings), Then you will cross the Black Mountains in central Bhutan and into Gangtey— winter home of the rare great Black-Necked cranes, the Birds of Heaven, who make Bhutan their refuge from the icy snows of Tibet. On this journey, you will see the great peaks of the Inner Himalaya in the crisp clear air of year’s end, when days are usually brilliantly sunny and nights full of stars. And of course, you will undoubtedly undertake a pilgrimage hike to the Tiger’s Nest.
Our December Journey is also designed as a Cultural Exploration for active people who enjoy short day hikes with nights spent in comfortable lodges. Your wanderings will take you over ridges and into wonderful landscapes… inside small hilltop monasteries and scattered villages with no motor roads with prizewinning, fantastic views of landscapes with the silvery shining river snaking its way across the valley floor… you will quench your curiosity as to what lies on the other side of the hills…. get into the heart of the countryside and measure its pulse….. Our December Festival journey will be flexible, adventurous and highly oriented toward learning, exploring and interacting closely with the people and places of the kingdom of the Thunder Dragon.
Clean air, pristine flora and fauna, unique architecture, smiling people and preserved social and cultural heritage make this country an exotic destination– specially in the winter. Celebrate your December days during a festival and say Tashi Delek — perhaps to the Royalties in the kingdom.