Litang’s week-long horse festival kicks off each year in late July/early August on the plains outside town. Horsemen from all over Kham descend to compete, decking their stocky steeds in bells and brightly decorated bridles and saddles. As well as the four daily races, the festival features amazing demonstrations of horsemanship, including acrobatics, plucking silk scarves off the ground, and shooting (guns and bows) – all performed at full tilt. In between, you’ll see plenty of dancing, both religious (the dancers wearing grotesque wooden masks) and for fun, with both men and women gorgeously dressed in heavily embroidered long-sleeved smocks. The exact date varies each year: contact the Potala Inn or Summer Youth Hostel before you arrive, for confirmation.

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