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Lhasa is generally mild from April to November, making it the best time to visit. From December to February/March it becomes very cold and temperatures regularly drop below freezing. Travel during these months is not advisable as the roads are often blocked with snow and most travel services close for the season. The authorities may also restrict entry to Tibet during these months. Tibet does not have a typical monsoon season, but May to September are the months with the highest rainfall, which mostly occurs in the evenings.
The prime trekking season in Tibet takes place in the autumn months of September to October when the skies are clear and visibility at its best. It's a great time for photography whether trekking or visiting Tibet's different towns and monasteries. The summer months of June to August are Tibet's prime tourist season with outdoor markets popping up around the cities and sporting contests held in the grasslands.
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Festivals, Events and Seasonal Reasons to Visit
February 16th-18th - Tibetan New Year: Also known as Losar, this is the most important celebration of the year for the Tibetan people. The entire festival technically lasts 15 days but it is the first three that are the most important. The first two days of festivities are the last two days of the old year and consist of cleaning the house and preparing food. On the third day, people dress in new clothes, exchange gifts and feast together whilst worshipping the gods, singing and dancing.
March 2nd - Butter Lamp Festival: Just as the name suggests, this festival revolves around the lighting of butter lamps and is traditionally a time for commemorating the victory of Buddha in a debate that took place in India around 2,500 years ago. The people of Tibet usually spend the day at their local temple, where there will be dozens of coloured butter sculptures of Buddha and various animals. Once the sun sets, thousands of lamps are lit to represent the light of Buddha.
May 27th-29th - Saga Dawa: Considered the holiest of festivals in the Tibetan calendar, Saga Dawa is a celebration of the life of Buddha. On his deathbed, he urged his followers not to mourn him but instead to commemorate him by continuing his teachings and striving to be kind and compassionate. This day is one of devout worship as the old prayer flagpole is taken down and replaced with a new one, upon which will be hung hundreds of coloured prayer flags.
August 21st-27th - Shoton Festival: By far and away the most popular event of the year, the Shoton Festival is the best showcase of Tibetan culture and is a great way for travellers to learn more about this curious country. Generally, the festival is split into three main events, the first of which is the great Buddha display – this marks the beginning of the Shoton festival. The next events consist of Tibetan opera and a horsemanship exhibition, usually accompanied by yak racing.