Gyantse Damag (Horse Racing Festival)

Gyantse Yak Race at Gyantse Damak

Gyantse County

Gyantse as a county is small but a vivacious small town with lots of activities and sites to see around for pilgrims. The only probable site you’ll see is the Gyantse Kumbum Chorten (Stupa) and the monastery next to it. But if you happen to take your Tibet tour around mid-July this summer, don’t miss the Gyantse Damag; Horse Racing Festival.

Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse

Kumbum Stupa in Gyantse

Horse-Racing Festival

Horses have been good companions of the Tibetan people for generations. Therefore, festivals themed on horse races are imperative. The horse race festivals are held in many areas, among which the Changtang (Nachu), Gyantse, and Damshong Horse Race Festivals are most famous. Like the other places, Gyantse Damag doesn’t finish with just a horse race. Besides, some other events for fun include yak race, donkey race, and archery, as well as wrestling, Tibetan.

Gyantse Damag (Horse Racing Festival)

Shy Gyantse Women in a full traditional set at Gyantse Damak.

Opera, music and dancing, track and field, and ball games. Tibetan people from different areas dressed in traditional costumes gather in Gyantse to celebrate the festival. There are a swap meet and an open market to buy authentic Tibetan crafts goods and a picnic to try the Tibetan food. This tour offers you a great opportunity to mingle with a Tibetan crowd picnicking and partying in their finest garb with fun.

Gyantse County in Tibet

Gyantse County in Tibet

Unlike the typical horse races, Tibetan horse riders have several tasks during the race, like archery and picking up a white scarf from the ground whilst on the horse (there used to be shooting whilst racing, but not anymore). And the festival is attended not only by the locals, but Tibetan people from most parts of Tibet Autonomous Region also come and spend a good few days.

Explore Tibet has most of its itineraries with Gyantse, but you can customize your own itinerary if you want to spend more time there. Your local Tibetan guide will have much more to share and even teach about Gyantse.