Each November, as the majestic, endangered black-necked cranes glide into their winter home in Bhutanâ€™s scenic Phobjikha Valley, locals greet them with a special celebration in their honor. This year, the annual black-necked crane festival will be held on November 11 in the courtyard of the Gangtey monasteryâ€”where, according to legend, the arriving cranes circle three times clockwise to show their respect for this holy place.
The festival program includes folk songs, mask and temple dancesâ€”some with black-necked crane themesâ€”and dramatic performances by local school children. Vistors can also enjoy day hikes along the Gangtey nature trail (complete with lunch and a tea reception at local farm houses) or take a village walk through the nearby Lawog Valley.
Better yet, with the festivalâ€™s emphasis on supporting local conservation efforts, visitors to the festival can not only enjoy the arrival of these beautiful birds, but also know that they are helping to ensure their continued survival.
Photo courtesy of the Tourism Council of Bhutan