A day-long celebration of Tibetan culture, history and activism.
The festival brings together a wide range of content, covering many different aspects of the Tibetan story. We are very excited to welcome our special guests, the Tashi Lhunpo monks, who will be opening our festival with a beautiful ritual before creating an intricate sand mandala.
There will be educational displays on Tibet's history and political situation, campaigning activities, and stalls selling Free Tibet merchandise and Tibetan products made by refugees in Dharamsala, India.
We also have an events schedule full of talks, workshops, a film screening and more.
Advanced ticket sales are now closed, however there will still be tickets available on the door for £17.
Our very special guests
We are honoured to announce that we will be joined by Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is one of the most important monasteries in Central Tibet and is the the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest Lama in Tibetan Buddhism after only the Dalai Lama.
After the Tibetan national uprising that took place in 1959, a handful of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery monks along with many thousands of Tibetans escaped into India. The Monastery was then subsequently re-established in Bylakuppe in Karnataka State, India.
They will start by opening our festival with a blessing ceremony at 10am and will then be with us throughout the day, creating an intricate sacred Peace Sand Mandala. They will also perform a closing ritual at the end of the day, at around 6:30pm, in which the mandala will be destroyed.
The Sand Mandala
Over the course of the day, the Tashi Lhunpo monks will be building a sacred sand mandala. Of all the artistic traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, that of painting with coloured sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibet this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means “mandala of coloured powders.” Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of hours, days, or sometimes weeks.
Once the mandala has been completed the healing process is fulfilled when the sand is swept away. Half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of moving water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.
The sweeping away of the mandala also stands as a metaphor of impermanence, key to the Buddhist teaching and practice.
The event will be formally opened at around 10:30am, with the Tashi Lhunpo monks performing a ritual to bless the proceedings. They will then begin the construction of the sand mandala in the centre of the main hall, which will be completed by the end of the festival.
The main hall will also feature Tibetan art, campaigns activities and information exhibitions, as well as music and dance.
There will be a series of talks and workshops throughout the day, most of which will be taking place in a separate workshop room downstairs. While this room is spacious, there may not be room for every guest to attend every one of these talks. So, if there is something you are particularly desparate to see, please arrive at the lecture room early to make sure you get a seat. See below for highlights of what some of these talks and workshops will be.
At around 6:30pm, the Tashi Lhunpo monks will have completed their mandala and will begin the closing ceremony. During this ritual the mandala will be destroyed and there will be an opportunity for guests to collect and keep some of the coloured sand to take home with them. The monks will then lead a procession to the nearby canal, where the rest of the sand will be deposited.
After the festival is formally closed there will be a film screening in the lecture hall, which will start a little after 7:00pm.
Highlights and speakers
Yoga for EveryBODY
with Hanna Tomas
This session will be starting at 9am, before the official opening ceremony, and is an introductory class based on the Vinyasa style.
Hanna has been teaching yoga for a year and is part of the Looks Like Yoga collective – a group of three yogis of colour who aim to create a space where anyone can come and find their yoga practice, regardless of race, gender, religion, size, income, identity - the only thing that matters is that you’re kind to others. Expect music, meditation and a dynamic flow.
If you have one, please bring your own yoga mat with you, as we will have limited numbers available on the day.
Mindfulness Meditation for Stress
with Sanghasiha from the London Buddhist Centre
Beginning at around 11am, shortly after the opening ceremony is complete, this taster session is an opportunity to get a sense of the way you can use mindfulness in your every day life - from reducing anxiety and depression to managing pain and addiction.
Sanghasiha has been teaching secular and Buddhist meditation for over eight years and is a Breathing Space teacher at the London Buddhist Centre.
Protest and Poetry
with Tenzin Tsundue
Tenzin Tsundue is a well known Tibetan activist, writer and poet who is flying over from Dharamsala for the event.
He won the first-ever Outlook-Picador Award for Non-Fiction in 2001 and has published four books to date.
He is also known for his bold activism work and caught international media attention in 2002 when climbed the scaffolding outside the hotel where Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji was staying in Mumbai - displaying a bannerwith the words ""Free Tibet: China, Get Out" and a Tibetan flag while shouting pro-Tibetan slogans before being arrested by Indian police.
He will be reading poetry from his book "Kora" and talking about his writing and activism.
Tibetan Mastiff Rescue UK
with Yang and Zeus
Jeremy and Cindy Goatcher from Tibetan Mastiff Rescue UK will bring along their rescued Tibetan Mastiffs Yang and Zeus.
The dogs will be available for hugs and photos throughout Tibetfest. Jeremy and Cindy will also give a short talk about the organisation and the invaluable work they do to rescue and re-home dogs.
with Patrick Cash
This session will explore the relationship between poetry and protest or resistance movements, with examples from Tibet and other well-known campaigns.
Patrick Cash is a writer living in London. He is currently one of the writers taking part in the BBC Drama Room 2018. As a poet, he founded the popular open-mic night Spoken Word London. He has worked with BBC Radio 1 and Amnesty International on poetry projects and performed at the ICA and Latitude Festival.
Tibet’s CONIFA Experience
CONIFA & LondonNey Tibetan Productions
CONIFA is the Confederation of Independent Football Associations and every year they run an alternative world cup. In 2018 it was hosted in London and the Tibetan national football team made it to the finals.
LondonNey Tibetan Productions is a collective of four Tibetans based in London who create a digital platform to showcase the talents of young Tibetans in exile. They filmed every moment of the Tibetan national football’s team’s CONIFA experience and have created a short film of highlights for Tibetfest.
We will be joined by a member of LondonNey and also a representative from CONIFA, who will talk about the tournament and how it felt to see the Tibetan national team playing in an international forum.
with Tenzin Samphel
Known as ‘gorshey’ in Tibetan, circle dancing is the traditional form of dance in Tibet and is widely enjoyed by Tibetans in exile. Tenzin Samphel is a prominent member of the Tibetan community in London and is widely held to be the best exponent of gorshey in the UK.
Come and learn a few steps!
Tibet – A Journey in Photography
with Julian Bound
This presentation of stunning images documents Julian’s journey from Kathmandu to Lhasa and gives a unique look at life inside Tibet, as well as providing some glimpses of the Dalai Lama and Tibetan life in exile in India.
Born in the UK, Julian Bound is a documentary photographer and author. Featured on the BBC news, National Geographic and in the international press, his work focuses on the social documentary of world culture, religion and traditions. His previous work has included documenting the child soldiers of the Burmese Karen National Liberation Army, the Thailand political uprisings of 2009 and 2014 in Bangkok, and the townships of South Africa. Present for the Nepal earthquakes of 2015, he documented the disaster whilst working as an emergency deployment photographer for various NGO and international embassies in conjunction with the United Nations.
Michael Ormiston is the UK's most experienced Mongolian Khoomii Overtone singer.
He was taught in Mongolia in 1993 by herdsman and keeper of the tradition, Tserendavaa. Michael plays many instruments including Mongolian Horse Head fiddle, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Jews-Harps and Gongs.
Little Tibet – Film Screening + Q&A
with Sonam Anjatsang
For those who want to stay on into the evening, London-based Tibetan film maker Sonam will be screening his film Little Tibet, followed by a short question and answer session.
After the Tashi Lhunpo monks have performed their closing ritual to end the festival, this will take place downstairs in the screening room from approximately 7:30pm. The film is around 90 minutes long and documents Sonam's journey through Ladakh and the Tibetans he met who live in exile there. This will be followed by a short Q&A session with Sonam.
Get your tickets
Advanced ticket sales have now ended, however there will still be plenty of tickets available on the door for £17 per person. This gets you access to the entire day's schedule, including all the talks and workshops. For those who ordered tickets in advance, just give your name at the door (the same name you made the ticket order under). Upon first arrival you will be given a wristband - this will allow you to leave and re-enter the venue as you wish throughout the day.