National Day

On 17 December 1907, religious and secular leaders from across Bhutan gathered in Punakha to unanimously elect Ugyen Wangchuck as the First Druk Gyalpo, or "Precious Ruler of the Dragon People" - Bhutan's first king. The date of his coronation has been celebrated ever since as Bhutan's National Day.

Each year, His Majesty appears for an inspiring speech to the nation. The location for this address varies annually, and the place does not become known until mere days beforehand.

Thimphu's National Day celebrations focus in Changlimithang Stadium, where banners stream from the spotlights and the national flag flutters from every flagpole. When His Majesty gives the speech from Thimphu, excited crowds fill the stands to watch a sumptuous procession that culminates in the address.

Even when the speech occurs in another district, it appears on an enormous screen in the stadium in front of great crowds. Military parades and performances by all from schoolchildren to monks mark the occasion, with the latter participating in Buddhist rituals to request spiritual protection and guidance in the year ahead. Smaller parades and celebrations are held in each district, and dzongs and monasteries across the country burn bright with the light from thousands of flickering yak butter lamps, lit in His Majesty's honor.