Other Ethnic Group Festivals

China has 55 ethnic groups and each have their own festivals. Below some of the festivals are described.

1. Nadam Fair of the Mongol

Date: Between July and August every year
Place: Inner Mongolia
Activities: Horse racing, wrestling, archery etc.

Remark: In Mongolian, Nadam means "recreation or game". The festival is a traditional gathering of the Mongolian people in Inner Mongolia, held annually in July or August when the pastures are at their greenest, and usually lasts between three and ten days. The festival is celebrated with Horse racing, wrestling, archery and other competitions as well as theatrical performances. Agricultural products, by-products, native products and animal products from different prefectures are exchanged at the fair.

During the festival, tourists may participate in horse racing, archery, or enjoy an imperial banquet of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), or local wedding ceremonies, a memorial ceremony at the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, also tours highlighting Mongolian customs.


2. The Torch Festival of the Yi ethnic group in Liangshan, Sichuan Province

Date: July 23-28
Place: Sichuan Province
Activities: Bullfighting, horse races, cockfighting, sheep fighting, singing contests, a Yi ethnic group beauty contest, wrestling, local-style dance contest, a torch parade and bonfire party.


3. Tibetan Shoton Festival of Tibetan

Date: August (from the end of the sixth month to the early part of the eighth month of the Tibetan calendar)
Place: Lhasa, Tibet
Activities: The Shoton Festival is also known as the Yogurt Banquet Festival. It is one of the grandest festivals in Tibet. During the festival, traditional Tibetan operas will be performed and fairs/markets will be held.


4. Water-Splashing Festival

Date: New Year's Day on the Dai calendar is usually in the middle of April.
Place: Yunnan province
Activities: The festival of the Dai people usually lasts for 3-5 days. Ceremonies are held to pray in Buddhist temples and clean dust off Buddhist statues. Also, a Peacock dance is performed, dragon-boat racing and other sports competitions are organized, and people sprinkle water on each other as an expression of good wishes.


5. Tibetan New Year

Date: January 1st on Tibetan calendar
Place: Tibet
Activities: Special ceremonies are held on the day. On the eve of the festival, every household will paint lucky signs with wheat flour on kitchen walls and gates. Resin is burned on the roof, while painted seedlings of cereal crops and ears of wheat are displayed in the house. The first day of the festival is for family reunion. On the second day, people will go to call on their relatives and friends. The festival is also observed with wrestling, horse racing, archery and other sports competitions. Grand groups dancing and Tibetan operas are performed.


6. The Great Prayer Festival

Date: January 8th through to the 14th of the Tibetan calendar
Place: The Jokhang Temple, Lhasa
Activities: It is the grandest religious festival in Tibet. Thousands of monks far and near will gather for prayers, theological debates and examinations are taken for Geshe, a doctoral degree in Buddhist theology, at the lamasery. Pilgrims travel from everywhere to listen to the sermons.


7. Nero Festival

Date: Around March 22nd.
Place: Inking
Activities: The festival is held among the Kazak ethnic group. As an interesting activity during the festival, a game is held called girl chasing! While riding from the starting point of the horse race to the end, boys can play jokes with girls or even confide their love. Girls are  not allowed to sulk and can also chase after the boys whilst riding their horse. If a girl catches up with a boy, she whips him, while he is not allowed to fight back, if the girl likes the boy, she will just wave her whip in the air.


8. Horse Race Festival in Qiangtang

Date: The last 10-day period of August (between the end of the seventh month and the early part of the eighth month of the Tibetan calendar)
Place: Nakchu Prefecture, Tibet
Activities: Horse races, archery shooting races, horsemanship performances.


9. Knife-Pole Festival

Date: February 8th on the Lunar calendar, usually in March.
Place: Yunnan province
Activities: It is a traditional festival of the Lisu ethnic group. 'Usually' on the eve before the festival, brave warriors will dance and jump in the fire barefoot. The most fascinating activity during the festival is to climb up 20 meter high poles inserted with 36 or 72 sharp knives. Performers have to climb barefoot!


10. The Butter Lamp Festival

Date: January 15th on the Tibetan calendar
Place: The Jokhang Temple, Lhasa
Activities: Unique butter lamps exhibition and all night singing and dancing.