Every year on November 11, the Black Necked Crane Festival launches into a whirlwind of celebration. In the courtyard of Gangtey Goempa, on a ridge in the middle of Phobjikha Valley, the festival celebrates the arrival of the black necked cranes.
These huge, majestic birds spend their summers on the high-altitude plains of Tibet. During the winter months they migrate south to Bhutan. Phobjikha Valley and Bumdeling in Tashiyangtse (make link) are two of their most important roosting places. The cranes, considered to be heavenly creatures, dance in groups or pairs in their roosting areas.
At the festival, monks perform ancient, sacred masked dances. Schoolchildren from all around the valley dance as well, in order to welcome the cranes back to Phobjikha.