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Traditional Tibetan festivals lure more visitors

Traditional Tibetan festivals have attracted more visitors to tour the region for showcasing the unique features of the highland culture.

"Various tourism and cultural festivals in Tibet, such as the annual Shoton Festival, the Gongbo Folk Tourism Festival, and the Nagqu Horse Racing Festival, are rich in content and diverse in forms. They help usher in the peak tourism season," said Wang Songping, deputy director of Tibet's Tourism Bureau.


Actresses dance during a dress rehearsal of the evening party held by Lhasa TV station for the upcoming new year of Tibetan calendar which falls on Feb. 25, in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, Feb. 10, 2009. [Xinhua Photo]

The seven-day Shoton Festival, or Yogurt Festival, held last August attracted tourists from home and abroad with the traditional Buddha thangka unfolding ceremonies and Tibetan opera performances.

During the festival, Lhasa's Potala Palace, Norbulingka, and Jokhang Temple received at least 220,000 visitors.

Meanwhile, local governments at various levels also promoted tourism by introducing theme tour routes, such as tour to the Ancient Tea and Horse Route and tour to experience Lhasa customs.

Nyingchi Prefecture in southeast Tibet, well-known for its elegant natural sceneries, unique folk customs and culture landscapes, has reported 1.1 million tourists so far this year.

The Gongbo Festival, the traditional New Year held in Nyingchi on the first day of the tenth month according to the Tibetan calendar, is also greatly appealing tourists.

During the festival, the local tourism bureau held a four-day celebration to enable tourists to experience traditional activities held for the occasion, such as eating the special meal for the New Year and burning incense.


Lamas blow the horns during the Buddha Thangka painting unfolding ceremony at Sera Monastery in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on Aug. 20, 2009. [Xinhua Photo]

"It is really exciting to spend a genuine Tibetan festival with the locals," said a tourist surnamed Wang from south China's Guangdong Province.

Wang said he had planned to travel to Tibet in summer, but having checked up tourism information on the Internet, he learned that so many important Tibetan festivals were held in winter time. As it was also less inexpensive to go to Tibet during the slack tourism season, he then went to Tibet with his family in November.

In Nyingchi, both Wang and his family were impressed by the special way the Tibetans marked the Gongbo New Year and unique celebrations they held.

Learning that the Spring Festival and the traditional Tibetan New Year fall on the same day, i.e., Feb. 14, Wang decided to go to Lhsas to spend the festivals.

As for the traditional Tibetan New Year, a seven-day folk tourism festival will be held, and 2,010 tourists will be invited by Tibet's Tourism Bureau and travel agencies in the region to celebrate with locals.