Tibetan festivals are based on the Tibetan lunar calendar, which usually lags behind the solar calendar by four to six weeks. They reflect the rich and diverse culture of Tibet, influenced by ancient Bon religion, Tibetan Buddhism, and neighboring cultures from China, India, Nepal and beyond. Most of the festivals have strong religious characteristics and involve activities such as pilgrimage, prayer, offering, chanting, dancing and unveiling thangkas (Buddhist paintings).
Some of the most important and popular Tibetan festivals are:
Losar: The Tibetan New Year12, celebrated in late January or early February. It is a week-long festival that marks the beginning of a new cycle of life. People clean their houses, make offerings to gods and ancestors, exchange gifts and greetings with relatives and friends, enjoy traditional food and drinks such as chang (barley beer) and butter tea2, watch dramas and carnivals1, participate in horse races and archery contests1, etc.
Monlam: The Great Prayer Festival12, held in early January according to the Tibetan calendar. It is a tradition begun by Tsongkhapa1, the founder of Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Many pilgrims gather at Jokhang Temple in Lhasa12 to pray for world peace and happiness. Monks recite scriptures, debate on Buddhist doctrines2, perform rituals such as butter lamp offering23 (also known as Tsongkhapa Butter Lamp Festival), etc.
Saga Dawa: The holiest festival for Tibetans23, observed on April 15th according to the Tibetan calendar. It commemorates three important events in Buddha’s life: his birth, enlightenment and parinirvana (death). People abstain from killing animals, eating meat or drinking alcohol on this day. They also make donations to monasteries or beggars3, circumambulate sacred sites such as Mt Kailash or Lake Manasarovar with prayer flags3, release captive animals into nature3, etc.
Shoton: The Yogurt Festival or Opera Festival1^ 2^ 3^ , celebrated from June 30th to July 6th according to the Tibetan calendar. It originated as a religious ceremony when monks ended their summer retreat and received yogurt from lay people as alms.1^ 2^ Later it evolved into a cultural event that showcases various forms of opera such as Lhamo (Tibetan opera)1^ 2^ , Ache Lhamo (female opera)3^ , Garma Lhamo (Nepalese opera)3^ , etc. The highlight of this festival is the unveiling of a giant thangka depicting Buddha at Drepung Monastery1^ 2^ .
Ongkor: The Harvest Festival1^ , held between July and August according to the local climate3^ . It is a thanksgiving celebration for farmers who have worked hard throughout the year1^ . They dress up in colorful costumes3^ , sing folk songs3^ , dance around their fields with prayer flags3^ , offer highland barley wine to gods3^ , etc.
These are just some examples of Tibetan festivals that reflect their unique culture and spirituality. There are many more festivals that vary from region to region or sect to sect1. you can visit some websites that provide detailed information about them: