14-Women dancers at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan
Women performing a traditional dance at the festival.

On our Day 4 in Bhutan, we were once again treated to another colorful religious festival. Like the festival we attended in Thimphu, this one was also not part of our planned itinerary. It happened that the 3-day Tsechu festival was starting as we were passing by the town of Wangdue on our way from the valley of Punakha to the high mountains of Trongsa.


People arriving in Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanLocals arriving in the festival. 

A Tsechu Festival is an annual celebration to commemorate the good deeds of Guru Rinpoche, Bhutan’s patron saint who is credited for spreading the teaching of Mahayana Buddhism in the Himalayan region.  

People in Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanWe enjoyed observing the locals moving about the festival ground. 

Tsechu festivals are held every autumn in every district of Bhutan. The dates of the celebration vary from district to district and year to year. The festivals are normally held in Dzongs (fortresses), monasteries or temples. However, the celebration in Wangdue this year was held in a military camp because its fortress burned down in 2012. 

Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanLocals enjoying the activities in the fair ground before the start of the festival performance. 

Attending this religious festival is an important part of the spritual devotion for the Bhutanese. They believe that their attendance would bring them blessings and help them accumulate spiritual merits.

Men playing dart during Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan
Men gathered in the fair ground to witness a game of dart, one of the popular games among Bhutanese.  

A monk playing dart during Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanEven young monks are avid dart players. 

Fair ground in Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanThere was even a Bhutanese version of the “Wheel of Forturne” on the fair ground.

Bhutanese girls in Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanBeautfiul girls wearing their finest kiras.  Locals believe that wearing their finest for the festival is another form of offering for the deities and may bring them blessings, luck and prosperity. 

The crowd at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanLocals waiting for the start of the festival perfomances. 

Boys in the audience at the Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan Young boys in the audience. 

Girls in the audience at the Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan Young girls in the crowd. 

A boy in the crowd at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanOne of the many little people in the audience. 

Women audience at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, BhutanjpgA woman making a call before the start of the performance.

Mask Dancers at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan

The core of the Tsechu festival are the performances of ancient religious mask dances that are mostly performed by monks. The dances re-enact the legendary events that took place during the life of Guru Riponche. 

Mask Dancers at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan


Mask Dancers at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan


Mask Dance, Tsechu Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan


Mask Dancer at Tsechue Festival in Wangdue, Bhutan

We were able to witness only about four mask dances in this festival as we had to leave early to continue our long journey to Trongsa.  However, we were thankful for the opportunity to witness another important Bhutanese tradition.

Few days later, we attended the Tsechu Festival in Bumthang Valley (the one that was part of our itinerary) where we were able to witness the mask dances all day long. We will share more photos of the amazing and vibrant mask dances from that festival in our future post. 


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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

48 responses to “The Tsechu Festival in Wangdue

    • Marisol

      Hi Dawn, they truly are beautiful people. Glad you enjoyed their colorful costumes and the photos.

    • Marisol

      Hi A, the Wheel of Fortune booth took us by surprise. Yes, it really is beautiful there.

    • Marisol

      Hi Aleah, we scheduled our travel to observe one particular festival but not several of them. Yes, we were lucky to stumble into two more extra festivals. They were all amazing indeed.

  1. I really cannot get over the beautiful, colorful clothing! I love stumbling upon festivals while traveling. Dave and I stumbled on a festival while in Ethiopia and had the best time. It’s such a great way to experience the culture! Makes me think I should plan my trips around festivals. Lovely photos as always.
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    • Marisol

      Hi Erica, thanks. True, festivals are a great way to experience the culture. You must have a wonderful time in Ethiopia. I read about some of their festivals and I thought they were quite interesting.

  2. noel

    Wow, what a wonderful thing to be able to witness these, I would love to visit Bhutan and these festivals some day.

    • Marisol

      Hi Noel, it is a wonderful event to experience. I’m sure you will enjoy the Bhutanese festivals. They are photographers’ dream.

  3. this is the part of the traveling that is most enriching. your shots are amazing and i love the people shots.
    Photo Cache recently posted..One May AfternoonMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed them.

    • Marisol

      Thanks Rachel. I know, it’s hard not to be enchanted with their attire.

  4. Love the mix of photos you chose. My favs are the little boy and Dad and the yellow skirted monk dancers. What a lovely place to visit.
    budget jan recently posted..The Best View in IstanbulMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jan, nice to see you back! Glad you enjoyed the pics. It truly is an amazing place to visit.

  5. Rajesh

    Great shots. Traditional outfits are amazing.
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    • Marisol

      Thanks Freya. I really hope you can make it to Bhutan soon and experience their wonderful festivals.

  6. Leigh

    I can’t get over how many festivals you attended in Bhutan – and each and every one of them is so colourful. What a great assortment of people shots and interesting to hear what counts for spiritual merit points.
    Leigh recently posted..A Visit to Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa RicaMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Leigh, we were really lucky to observe more festivals than we had planned. Glad you enjoyed the people shots.

  7. Bama

    Yet another interesting collection of photographs from festivals in Bhutan. The more you post such colorful pictures from the country, the more I want to go to Bhutan. :) Looking at that picture of a girl making a phone call with her cellphone made me think of what might happen to the unique culture of Bhutan amid modernization. I hope the future doesn’t look too grim for a country where Gross National Happiness is more important than GDP.
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    • Marisol

      Hi Bama, I have found in my travels that there are no places remote enough for cell phones. As much as they have embraced technology, they are very mindful about preserving their core values, culture and environment as well as maintaining their well-being. I don’t think their future is grim at all. I hope you get to visit Bhutan soon.

  8. Johanna

    Gosh, Bhutan looks such a beautiful country to visit … those big hills really get me … coming from a mostly flat Western Australia! I love your portrait shots, and I couldn’t help but gaze into the faces and wonder what their lives were like and what they were thinking at that moment. The festival itself looks to be intriguing too.
    Johanna recently posted..The Bridgetown Blues FestivalMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Jo, the big hills and mountains of Bhutan are really glorious, so breathtaking. Glad you enjoyed the portrait shots. One thing I can tell you is that Bhutanese tend to live the moment, so I’m sure that enjoying every minute of the festival was what all in their minds:)
      Marisol recently posted..The Tsechu Festival in WangdueMy Profile

  9. “Young monks are avid dart players.” That is a great caption. Who knew? I had been wondering if these were their everyday clothes, so I’m glad that you clarified that they dress up for the festival. You are fortunate to have stumbled upon so many festivals. I wonder if it’s because the harvest is finally in but it’s not too cold yet.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..An American Thanksgiving in PenangMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Michelle, they have festivals all year round. Some festivals are observed only in certain region but the Tsechu festival are observed all over the country but are held at different times. Tsechu are held around autumn because the birthday of Guru Rinpoche, the saint the festival is dedicated to, is around that time.

  10. ladyfi

    Awesome shot. Bhutan is high up on my to-visit list.

    • Marisol

      Thanks Fiona. I really hope you can make it to Bhutan soon. Your camera will love it there very much.

    • Marisol

      Hi Dana, it was really quite a treat. The dance masks are meant to be mystical and they’re really amazing.

  11. The Bhutanese sure know how to put on festivals. I love their colorful, festive attire and i’m glad you were able to capture so many of the happy faces. It’s always a delight to see your photos of the locals. Who knew about darts and wheel of fortune? That religious mask dances must have been quite an experience to see. Gorgeous shots and well-written as always, kabayan 😉
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    • Marisol

      Hi Mary, thanks Kababayan! The festivals were truly magical that we felt so blessed to experience.

  12. Mitch T

    I love all the colors and the festivity Marisol. Makes me feel like I’m actually there.

    • Marisol

      Hi Mitch, thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

  13. pooja


    I am Pooja from Mumbai and plan to visit Bhutan along with my husband during March this year. I haven’t traveled much before as I never had the opportunity. However, now I see it possible and I love to read about travels, experiences and journeys. We plan for a 6 nights, 7 day trip. I have a couple of questions in mind, it would be kind of you to help me out here. So here I go…

    1. What budget should I set for the both of us. I am not looking at luxury travelling. I wish to experience the place like a local so please suggest me in those lines.
    2. I wish to go beyond Thimphu and Paro, I would like to explore picturesque places elsewhere in Bhutan, not just the known and famous ones. Let me know which places can I go where I experience nature at its magical best.
    3. Any suggestion for places to stay.
    4. What kind of adventure activities are there. I am keen on Hiking and trekking, where and how do I book these.
    5. Any kind of offbeat activities that you are aware off such as mindful practice retreats etc that I can take. Anything that would make our trip memorable?
    6. I am looking for using public transport, let me know how to figure this. How to know where to catch the public buses. how helpful are the people over there.

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