As soon as you land in Bhutan, you are immersed into the living cultural landscape of Bhutan – from the architecture, to the people, the villages, the mountains, food, monasteries and the environment. Buddhism and the natural environment that surround us largely shape the unique culture of Bhutan. A highlight of the cultural richness of Bhutan are the annual masked dance festivals or also known as ‘tsechu” symbolizing amity, peace and compassion. These festivals are held in various parts of the Kingdom at different times of the year (link to festival dates). The most popular festivals amongst visitor are the ones held in Paro and Thimphu. The Paro Tshechu takes place usually around March/April and the Thimphu Tshechu in September/October according to the lunar calendar. Mask dances, performed by monks as well as by the laity, are imbued with deep religious significance and depict rich cultural traditions. It is also a social gathering, where people dress in their beautifully intricate and colorful hand woven national dresses (gho for men and kira for women) and feast over either packed lunches/picnics or in restaurants.