Losar Festival - Tibetan New Year

We always say that the best way to explore Tibetan culture is to attend the Tibetan festivals. Tibetan New Year, called Losar as well, is the most important festival for Tibetan people. It is usually held during February and March when Tibet is closed for foreigners. Thus, international travelers have little chance to see this big feast in person. However, you could learn it from this post and image the alive scene.

Name and History

Tibetan people call the new year “Losar”. Losar is not one word in the Tibetan language. Actually, it consists of two words, Lo and Sar. “Lo” means new, “Sar” means year.

Dated back to the old times, when there was no Tibetan Buddhism yet, Tibet was controlled by its original religion Bon. The ancient people had a big celebration in winter. They prayed for protection from deities. As time passed, this event became an annual festival, which was the predecessor of Losar.

Losar Festival


All the Tibetan festivals are based on the Tibetan calendar, so is Losar. According to the Tibetan calendar, Losar is held for three days, the last two days of the old year and the first day of the new year. And it’s almost as same as the Chinese New Year, in mid-February of solar calendar. Maybe one day earlier or later. Tibetan calendar counts on 12 or 13 lunar months. So the Tibetan New Year was thirty days later than the Chinese New Year. In 2020, Tibetan New Year's on Feb. 24.

Activities and Features

Same as all the celebrations for the new year in the world, Losar Festival is also a happy time with family together to discard celebrating for Losar Festivalthe old year and bring in the new one. Besides, as a minority nationality, nearly every single Tibetan people is a good singer or dancer. Compliance with nature, they get used to express their emotions by singing and dancing. So, if you are traveling to Tibet during this time, your ear will be fed with festive music all around.

The biggest difference with the Chinese New Year is the continuous chanting as Tibet is a religious place where all the people have faith in Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan people believe that evil demons exist everywhere. So, at Losar Festival, there will be a very important activity which is for dislodging the evil. Tibetan people will hold some traditional ceremonies handed down generation by generation. They dressed up in their folk costumes, chanting Buddhist scripture and passing fire torches on the street. Expel the evil while praying for good luck and bliss for the coming new year.

Besides the above activities, there is another interesting one, the antimasque. For example, the deer dance, or the funny fight between the king and its subordinates, which can make people laugh out loud.

In one world, Losar Festival is a celebration full of music, dance, and joy.

How do Tibetan people celebrate Losar?

There are three days total to celebrate Losar Festival. So, what will the Tibetan people do every day?

Losar Day 1 - Spring-cleaning and Food Preparation

celebrating for Losar FestivalActually, the first two days of Losar is the period of preparation. On the first day, Tibetan people will have a thorough sweep up to make sure everywhere in the house is clean enough, especially the kitchen. It implies to clean away the dirt or the bad luck of the old year and ready to greet the new year. Tibetan people consider the kitchen is the most important part of the house because the food is made there. So, they will pay particular attention to it when cleaning the house, even the chimney will be swept dirtless.

After that, the housewife will start to prepare special food for Losar. There is a kind of traditional Tibetan food called Dough Balls, of which the skin is made of highland barley powder and the filling is various stuff, such as rice, salt, chilies, wool, or coal, etc. Don’t be surprised with the stuffing. They have meanings. The Dough Balls will be handed out after cooked. If you eat rice or salt in the ball, so, congratulations! It’s a good sign. You may get fortunate in the near future; to the contrary, if you eat coal in the ball, it means you may get some trouble and should be careful in the next few days.

Losar Day 2 - Holding Religious Ceremonies to Expel Evil

ceremony of expelling the evilIt’s the last day of the old year. Tibetan people will go to the monasteries nearby, where the monks will hold a traditional ceremony to expel evil. Of course, the laypeople will bring some incenses and fruits to worship the deities, and give some presents to the monks or lamas. The torches will be fired in the monastery, coupled with the chanting to dislodge evil and bring light and hope to Tibetan people.

Losar Day 3 – Convivial Banquet with Family and Friends Together

After a house cleaning and receiving a blessing from monasteries, finally, it’s time to enjoy a festal time with beloved family members and friends. The last day of Losar is also the first day of the new year. Today, Tibetan people will get up early. Firstly take a bath, then wear the new clothes. The next step is to place some fresh offering to worship the deities enshrined in their house. Tibetan people are all devout Buddhists. There is a special room in nearly every Tibetan house where enshrines the deities.

After this small but serious ceremony, the young people may hang out with friends or stay at home to help elders prepare dinner. In the Tibetans pray at the monastery during Losar Festivalevening, all the family members will sit together, enjoy the delicious traditional food while watching TV. There are so many things to do this night, such as singing, dancing, drinking the highland barley wine, talking about the funny things that happened before, looking forward to the good future, exchanging gifts with each other, etc. All Tibet is reigned by a peaceful atmosphere totally.

Another interesting custom, on Losar Day 3, the housewife will go out very early for fetching the first bucket of water from the river nearby. This water is regarded as the most sacred water which can bring fortune to the whole family for the new year.

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Typically Asked Questions from Our Clients



Kindly let me know what kind oof hotels , air travel etc be used during great Tibet tour ? Thanks



In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to view the Losar festival in 2020. Tibetan new year festival starts on Feb.24th. I suggest you arrive in Lhasa at the latest on 23rd. There are three days total to celebrate Losar Festival. How long do you plan to spend in Tibet? And how many people are there? Air travel is a popular way for foreigners. We can help you book the air ticket. Please identify a stopover city in China first, like Beijing, Chengdu, Xi'an, etc. There will be a direct flight from these cities to Lhasa. After you identify the stopover city, you can decide on the flight schedule. For hotels in Lhasa, an economic 3-star hotel, comfortable 4-star hotel, and luxury 5-star hotel are available. Both the 3-star & 4-star accommodations we arrange for our clients have good locations and services. But Tibet relatively lags behind other provinces in China. Thus, the quality of accommodation is not the same as in Beijing, Shanghai or Chengdu. The 4-star accommodations are more comfortable with better facilities and environment. So, I suggest you choose the 4-star or 5-star class if your budget is not tight. Here is the hotel list for your reference, https://www.greattibettour.com/tibet-hotels



Greetings from Alaska. My wife, my daughter (4 years old), and myself would like to travel to Lhasa for Losar in 2020. We already purchased our flights to Shanghai. Now we start the process of submitting paperwork for Chinese VISA. We have some questions: 1) When we submit for Chinese VISA, should we specify we also plan on traveling to Tibet? 2) Is there an additional process for gaining permit to Tibet? Thank you, we look forward to hearing from you, Andrew



In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to travel to Lhasa for Losar in 2020. We can arrange a tour for your family. Tibetan new year starting from Feb.24th, you can take a train or plane from Shanghai directly to Lhasa. When do you plan to arrive in Shanghai and how many days do you plan to spend in Tibet? To answer your questions, 1) When we submit for Chinese VISA, should we specify we also plan on traveling to Tibet?  Please don't mention Tibet in your application. For sometimes, the China embassy may request you to present Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (TTB); but here in Lhasa, we have to have China Visa first to apply the TTB permit for you. so really, it's an egg-and-chicken bureaucratic error. Therefore, it's best that you don't mention Tibet while applying for a China visa.  2) Is there an additional process for gaining a permit to Tibet?  Yes, please book your Tibet tour with us first; then we will request a copy of your passport and China visa to apply for a permit from the Tibet tourism bureau. After the permit is issued for your family, we will either express it or email a copy to you.