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Gyantse Horse Race Festival

In rugged beautiful high-altitude country about 245 kilometers southwest of Lhasa is the ancient town of Gynatse where there are annual athletic contests on the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. These contests involve horse racing and archery contests, as well as wrestling, Tibetan Opera, music and dancing, track and field, and ball games. Along with this, there is a swap meet and an open market to buy authentic Tibetan crafts goods and a picnic where you can try the Tibetan food. The town of Gyantse is situated in a valley between high mountains, and compared to the rest of Tibet, more of the traditional way of life continues on there. The valley itself is at an altitude of about 4,000 meters. In the plain outside the city, a tent city springs up each year as villagers in the region arrive for the festivities. The athletes and artists compete and have a good time on a plain that has a lot of blooming flowers at that time of year. Watching the festivities and competitions may be an enjoyable highlight of a trip to Tibet in July, and a visit to the nearby town will be interesting too.

In addition to the horse races, you can watch the yak races. Yaks are a species of bovine related to oxen. That must be fun to watch. There are also weightlifting contests and Buddhist worship ceremonies. One thing to be prepared for is the high altitude. 4,000 meters is an unusually high altitude, so even just relaxing for more a few hours may be tiring for a lot of people. Walking around the tent camp area or touring in the city may really tire you. However, looking at the flowered fields and seeing the scenery is one of the highlights of a visit to the competitions.

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Lhasa, Tibet, China
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