Moving office, no phone   We're waiting for the phones to be hooked up. Call Hazel on +86 18210312853 if it's urgent.

Home > Trip Reports

Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

In Brief: Sixty photos from the Tibetan New Year celebrations at Labrang Monastery in Xiahe.

Monks chatting after a debating session - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks gathered near the monastery.

We timed our scouting trip to Xiahe for the Tibetan New Year celebrations at Labrang Monastery. The celebrations are a major event, with performances and rituals that are seldom seen elsewhere. Our hiking guide Katie is from the area, and it was her excellent idea to go take a look.

Labrang Monastery is located in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan, in Gansu Province. It’s one of the six major monasteries of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Many people visit the area in summer and autumn, but for a true taste of Tibetan Buddhism you need to be there for the three-day celebration during Tibetan New Year.

On the first day a giant embroidered Buddha is unfurled on a hillside, and pilgrims and monks offer prayers.

On the second day, Tibetan operas portray Buddhist life and practice.

On the third day, a statue of Buddha made from pure yak-milk butter is prayed to.

See all the photos below.

Two little kids dressed up for a performance (Photo by Dennis) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Two little kids dressed up for a performance (Photo by Dennis).

Kids perched on a rock (Photo by Dennis) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Kids perched on a rock (Photo by Dennis).

Riders at a temple (Photo by Dennis) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Riders at a temple (Photo by Dennis).

Local Tibetan people praying outside of the monastery - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Local Tibetan people praying outside of the monastery.

People enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the ceremony (Photo by Dennis) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

People enjoying the sunshine and waiting for the ceremony (Photo by Dennis).

A small section of Labrang Monastery - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A small section of Labrang Monastery.

A monk - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A monk.

People on the roof of the Gongtang pagoda - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

People on the roof of the Gongtang pagoda.

Monks carrying the huge embroidered Buddha up to the hillside - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks carrying the huge embroidered Buddha up to the hillside.

The embroidered thangka is unfurled on the hillside - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The embroidered thangka is unfurled on the hillside.

Hundreds of monks were holding it down - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Hundreds of monks were holding it down.

Monks walking through the crowd - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks walking through the crowd.

Monks walking through the crowd - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks walking through the crowd.

These little buildings are used for meditation - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

These little buildings are used for meditation.

A holy goat! - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A holy goat!

A small fabrics shop - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A small fabrics shop.

Here's these two again - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Here's these two again.

Blue sky above the temple (Photo by Dennis) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Blue sky above the temple (Photo by Dennis).

Masters are leading all the monks in prayer - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Masters are leading all the monks in prayer.

Onlookers at the ceremony - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Onlookers at the ceremony.

More onlookers. Many of the visitors are pilgrims from other regions - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

More onlookers. Many of the visitors are pilgrims from other regions.

Two old ladies talking about the ceremony - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Two old ladies talking about the ceremony.

Prayer circle - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Prayer circle.

Close up of Gongtang Pagoda - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Close up of Gongtang Pagoda.

A cat also enjoying the sunshine - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A cat also enjoying the sunshine.

All dressed up in traditional clothes - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

All dressed up in traditional clothes.

Monks chatting after a debating session - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks chatting after a debating session.

The embroidered thangka depicts the Buddha of wisdom - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The embroidered thangka depicts the Buddha of wisdom.

Another angle - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Another angle.

Covering it up again - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Covering it up again.

A old Tibetan man - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A old Tibetan man.

Crowds around the Gongtang Pagoda - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Crowds around the Gongtang Pagoda.

A visiting family - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A visiting family.

We walked around to a different temple - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

We walked around to a different temple.

Walking around the monastery or performing a Kora is one of the many different ways to pray in Tibetan Buddhism - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Walking around the monastery or performing a Kora is one of the many different ways to pray in Tibetan Buddhism.

We did a circuit around Gongtang Pagoda - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

We did a circuit around Gongtang Pagoda.

The next morning was frosty! - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The next morning was frosty!

Devout people head out to pray even on a snowy day - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Devout people head out to pray even on a snowy day.

A master monk heading to pray - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A master monk heading to pray.

Monks are preparing for the Tibetan opera performances - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Monks are preparing for the Tibetan opera performances.

People waiting for the opera. Cold! - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

People waiting for the opera. Cold!

The tiger is an important symbol in the ceremony. The tiger makes sure all people are respecting the traditional customs, and enforces them with a bang on the head if you are misbehaving! - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The tiger is an important symbol in the ceremony. The tiger makes sure all people are respecting the traditional customs, and enforces them with a bang on the head if you are misbehaving!

Preparing for the Tibetan opera - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Preparing for the Tibetan opera.

Tibetan style horn - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Tibetan style horn.

The first part of the opera - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The first part of the opera.

This actor is almost flying - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

This actor is almost flying.

The tiger is back - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

The tiger is back.

Prayer wheels surround a building - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Prayer wheels surround a building.

Long view of Labrang Monastery - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Long view of Labrang Monastery.

A photo from the back of the monastery - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A photo from the back of the monastery.

We did a little hike out into the hills - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

We did a little hike out into the hills.

Midway on the hike - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Midway on the hike.

We enjoyed the food and performances at a Tibetan restaurant - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

We enjoyed the food and performances at a Tibetan restaurant.

Terrace fields near Lanzhou (photo by Yanjing) - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Terrace fields near Lanzhou (photo by Yanjing).

A local lady from a village near Lanzhou - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A local lady from a village near Lanzhou.

Pine tree behind a temple - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Pine tree behind a temple.

A mosque near Lanzhou - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A mosque near Lanzhou.

Terraced fields - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Terraced fields.

We climbed up for a look at the terraces - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

We climbed up for a look at the terraces.

A photo from a Tibetan wedding ceremony - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

A photo from a Tibetan wedding ceremony.

Back in Beijing, we met up to share photos from the trip - Labrang Monastery and Tibetan New Year, 2016/02

Back in Beijing, we met up to share photos from the trip.

Were you on this hike or trip? How did you like it? Please send us your comments about what was good and/or what we could do a better job of. We'd love to hear from you!

Were you not on this trip, but like the look of it? Tell us, and we'll let you know when we'll be repeating it.

Trip reports, photos, and news

Trip Reports: Photos and writeups of our trips around Beijing and other parts of China. View all the trip reports »

News: Updates and information. View all the news »

Trip reports

Read one of the many reports in the archives. (This report has been chosen by random selection; we hope it's a good one for you!)

Wuyuan County, Jiangxi Province, 2014/03

Wuyuan County, Jiangxi Province, 2014/03

In Brief: The sights and scenes of the hills and valleys of Wuyuan, Jiangxi Province - fields of flowers, small riverside villages, and more.

View trip report »