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List of Festivals in Nepal

Holidays & festivals in Nepal that you don't want to miss!

About Festivals in Nepal

Nepal is probably home to more yearly festivals and holidays than any other nation on earth. Coupled with political strikes one often wonders how anything get's done in Nepal.

Nevertheless for the tourist visiting Nepal do take a read of the major festivals and the months they occur in for a couple of reasons. 1) Nepalese festivals can be fantastic and fun. 2) Things might close down for a day or two.

Either way plan ahead and take notes of the following dates!

Festivals during January in Nepal

Event: Losar (Tibetan New Year) Date: 29th January 2017/ 18th January 2018

Location: Boudhanath / Nationwide

Losar is celebrated over three days with the first day being  the day before the Tibetan New Year's Eve. It is here many monasteries in Nepal will have colorful celebrations and rituals. The best place to experience Losar in Nepal is to seek out a Tibetan monastery in Kathmandu and ask what they will be doing for Losar. Some will be well organized, some will not. But usually it's free to attend.

Festivals during February in Nepal

Event: Shivratri Date: 24th February 2017, Shivaratri in 2018 is on Tuesday 17th of February, Shivaratri in 2019 is on Monday 4th of March

Location: Pashupatinath

Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. Expect very large crowds at Pashupatinath on the day. Sadhus often make long pilgrimages to Nepal at this time as well and are well worth locating in Pashupatinath a few days before or after Shivaratri. It should also be noted that Hashish is legal in Nepal on this day only. While usually everything is well natured do be aware that not everyone will be thinking straight.


Festivals during March in Nepal

Event: Holi Date: 13th March 2017 / 2nd March 2018

Location: Nationwide

Holi is an ancient Hindu spring festival also known as "Festival of Colors". It is one of the best festivals to enjoy in Nepal. On the day of holi colored water and/or powder is thrown at people in celebration. It's best to wear old clothes and waterproofs and even goggles during this festival!


Festivals during April in Nepal

Event: Bisket Jatra / Navavarsha (Nepali New Year) Date: 13th April 2017/ 14th April 2018

Location: Nationwide / Bhaktapur

The Nepalese calendar is a lunisolar Hindu calendar which is about 56.7 years ahead of the Gregorian (western) Calendar. 2013 = 2070, 2014 = 2071, 2015 = 2072. Nepalese New Year day is celebrated in a low key way throughout the country. However in Bhaktapur there's a grand celebration - hint - go to Bhaktapur!


Festivals during May in Nepal

Event: Buddha Jayanti (Buddha's Birthday) Date: 10th May 2017/ April 30th!

Location: Nationwide

The birthday of Buddha is celebrated all over Nepal. However stick with Bhaktapur or Patan for the best of the celebrations. Expect crowds taking to the streets for several processions.


Festivals during August in Nepal

Event: Janai Purnima Date: 7th August 2017

Location: Kathmandu

Also known as the "Sacred Thread Festival" Janai Purnima is a Hindu festival welcoming young men into manhood. Expect crowds in Kathmandu but there's not much to see otherwise. However it is often close to Gaijatra which is more colorful (see below)


Event: Gai Jatra Date: 8th August 2017

Location: Kathmandu

Also known as the "Festival of Cows" Gaijatra is a very colorful festival. Costumes and colorful precessions mark the event in Kathmandu along with people telling jokes. This tradition comes from an eighteen-century king who gathered his people together to cheer the queen up after the death of their son. Read more about Gai Jatra


Festivals during August/September in Nepal

Event: Teej Date: 4th September 2016 / 24th August 2017*

Location: Kathmandu

Also known as the "Festival of Women" Teej is a colorful fasting festival. Married women fast to honor Shiva and for a long happy life for their husbands. Fasting unmarried women dress in bright red costumes and bridal dresses while participating in traditional rituals and dances while hoping for a good husband.


Event: Yenya (Indra Jatra & Kumari Jatra) Date: 15th September 2016/September 5th 2017 *

Location: Kathmandu

Yenya means "Kathmandu Festival" which is the celebration of both Indra Jatra and Kumari Jatra. Indra Jatra is in honor of the Hindu god Indra. Masked dances representing gods and demons fill the streets. Kumari Jatra involves the Kathmandu Kumari and a chariot procession. As Yenya is the largest festival in Nepal expect huge crowds in Kathmandu especially in Kathmandu Durbar square. Be cautious as sometimes these crowds can be very overwhelming with the results being claustrophobic. Read more about Indra Jatra


Event: Ganesh Chaturthi Date: 5th September 2016 / 25th August 2017

Location: Kathmandu

Ganesh Chaturthi is the celebration of the Hindu God Ganesh. People give blessings at Ganesh shrines and temples throughout Nepal. Most of these take place early in the morning. In Kathmandu there is often a small parade with a Ganesh shrine that comes through the city.


Festivals during September / October in Nepal

Event: Dashain Date: 27th September 2017

Location: Nationwide

An important Hindu festival marking the goddess Durga's victory over evil. The festival takes place over a week or more with families traveling back to the original homes during this period. Children fly kites and tika blessings are given out. There's not much to see here for tourists as many people simply go home for the festival however the Taleju temple in Kathmandu Durbar Square opens up very early in the morning on the main day. Normal tourism services continue on as normal. Read more about how to cope with Dashain as a tourist


Event: Tihar Date: 30th October 2016 / 19th October 2017

Location: Nationwide

This Hindu festival is also known as the "Festival of Light" or Deepawali. Candles, lanterns and colored tinsel are used to decorate homes over a three day period. The first day is the main festival of light where people welcome the goddess of wealth, Laxmi, into their homes for good fortune in the coming year. The following day is for self blessing wishing towards a healthy and happy for year. On the final day Sisters make offerings to their brothers.

Festivals during October/November in Nepal

Event: Chhath Parva Date: 6th November 2016/ 26th October 2017

Location: Janakpur/Kathmandu

Every year thousands of pilgrims visit Janakpur to celebrate the sun god (Surya). It is primarily a celebration from the Terai region of Nepal though the area surrounding Rani Pokhari in Kathmandu city is another major place to witness the festival. The festival is usually celebrated over four days. It is said the sun god promotes well-being, prosperity and progress. The festival is not often mentioned in Nepal but it's certainly worth attending due to the harmonious chanting, ritual candle lighting that takes place.


Festivals during December in Nepal

Event: Christmas Date: 25th December 2016 / 25th December 2017

Location: Nationwide

Christmas Day is a very low key affair in for the mainly Buddhist and Hindu nation of Nepal. It is becoming more commonplace to place decorations around popular big town restaurants. However most of that is for tourists. Otherwise it's business as usual.


Event: New Years Date: 31st December - 1st January 2016 / Date: 31st December - 1st January 2017

Location: Nationwide

Again a very low key event in Nepal as the Nepalese usually only celebrate Tibetan New Year and their own New Year. There are however plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars in big towns that will stay open for the celebrations.


When is Nepali New Year?

The New Year in Nepal is based on the Hindu Calendar which is set about 56.7 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar. It's known locally as Bisket Jatra / Navavarsha.

  • In 2017 Nepali New Year will be on April 13th when it will be 2074 in Nepal

  • In 2018 Nepali New Year will be on April 14th when it will be 2075 in Nepal

As noted in the main list of festivals in Nepal above the best place to celebrate Nepalese New Year is in Bhaktapur. Throughout the test of the country it's fairly low key with two days of public holidays (tourist transport is unaffected).

Other festivals in Nepal

The above are the main festivals that take place in Nepal every year. There are many more festivals in Nepal that are either regional or are much smaller in scale.

It's important to realize that Nepal is multicultural but generally celebrates Hindu, Buddhist and Newari festivals with public holidays. Small local festivals often mean a particular caste or community will have a public holiday at other times. Do see my full Nepal guidebook for more.

Why do the dates of festivals keep changing in Nepal?

The New Year in Nepal is based on the Hindu Calendar which is set about 56.7 years ahead of the Gregorian calendar.

One of the biggest obstacles in Nepal is finding out exact times, dates and locations for festivals. Hopefully this list of festivals will help you. Many are Lunar based so do expect some changes by a day or two (though the above dates are fairly standard).

Those dates marked with a * a generally spread out over several days. Depending on the celebration each date within that range will have a different type celebration. e.g. Indra Jatra is celebrated over several days though most tourists enjoy the final date when there is a major procession held.

For tourists and travelers to Nepal the above dates are quite important to note when planning your trip. Both in terms of attending a festival and in terms of days of avoiding crowds or potential holidays.

Generally speaking Nepal is open 24/7 356 days a year for tourists. If trekking the same applies with no real off days during festivals which are not really celebrated in a big way in the mountains.

Do keep in mind that in big cities (e.g. Kathmandu) Nepalese festivals can get extremely crowded and if you are in anyway claustrophobic you should take care. Likewise if you have small children do be cautious of them as there's a lot of shoulder to shoulder pushing in the crowds.

The main festivals that travelers to Nepal usually enjoy are Shivaratri, Holi, Tihar and Losar.

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Full guide:
» Guide to Patan    
Central Patan
  - Patan Durbar Square
 South Patan
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  - Uku Bahal
  - Machchhendranath temple
North Patan
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Full guide:
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Durbar Square
» Guide to Bhaktapur Durbar Square
  - Erotic Elephants Temple (Shiva Parvati)
  - Basantapur Chowk (Sculptures)
  - National Art Gallery / Museum
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  - Taleju Temple (Mul Chowk)
  - Naga Pokari 
55 Window Palace
  - Siddhi Lakshmi
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  - Pashupatinath Temple (Bhaktapur)
  - Vatsala Durga Temple & Taleju Bell
  - Chyasalin Mandap
Near Durbar Square
» Taumadhi Square
Just outside Bhaktapur
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Tourists enjoying Holi in Nepal
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