Bhutan’s literary extravaganza to start on August 2, 2024

Inspired by His Majesty the King of Bhutan, this year’s festival embraces the theme of mindfulness

Bhutan, known for its stunning landscapes and authentic culture, also boasts a vibrant literature and arts scene that celebrates the written word and art in all their forms.  Central to this cultural celebration is the Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival (DLAF), a prestigious annual event that draws enthusiasts from across the world with its engaging blend of literature, art, and storytelling. This year, the festival will be held from August 02 – 04 in Thimphu, Bhutan.

A press release from the Department of Tourism (DoT), says that inspired by the illuminating vision of His Majesty the King of Bhutan, as outlined in the 116th National Day Address in December 2023, DLAF 2024 embraces the theme of “Mindfulness”. This theme, rooted in Bhutanese values of compassion, harmony, and self-awareness, serves as a guiding light for the festival’s endeavors. Through the lens of mindfulness, participants can gain new insights into the human experience, discovering pathways to inner peace, collective well-being, and positive transformation.

“DLAF proudly stands as the premier event of Bhutan Echoes, a dedicated initiative aimed at fostering literature, culture, and the arts within the kingdom. Through its curated events, Bhutan Echoes continues to champion the cultural heritage and artistic expression of Bhutan,” the press release reads..

According to the DoT, at the heart of DLAF 2024 lies a deep commitment to local engagement and global exchange. “By showcasing the literary and artistic talents of Bhutan alongside renowned international voices, the festival celebrates the diversity of human expression while fostering meaningful connections across borders.”

Some of the festival’s past speakers include writers Ruskin Bond, Pico Iyer, Vikas Swarup and Markus Zusak; thought leader Dr. Shashi Tharoor; beloved actor and writer Kabir Bedi; Bhutan’s favorite author Kunzang Choden; and Pawo Choyning Dorji, director of Bhutan’s first Oscar-nominated feature film, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom.

The DoT has also said that Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival is different in its ability to attract renowned literary figures from across the world.” Whether it be the famed children’s fiction writer and winner of the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards, Sudha Murty; or the Korean author and translator, Anton Hur, who was shortlisted for the prestigious 2022 International Booker Prize; or Swedish Professor Micael Dahlén, who was ranked by the Journal of Advertising as number 10 in the world among researchers within the field of advertising, the festival boasts a diverse lineup of speakers who inspire, educate, and entertain audiences with their storytelling.”

Guests have the opportunity to attend thought-provoking panel discussions, immersive workshops, and engaging book readings, providing a unique insight into the literary landscape of Bhutan and beyond. Whether you’re a seasoned bibliophile or a casual reader, there’s something for everyone at Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival.

At its core, Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival embodies the principles of Gross National Happiness (GNH), Bhutan’s holistic approach to development and well-being. Through literature and art, the festival seeks to promote dialogue, foster connections, and inspire positive change in society, reflecting Bhutan’s commitment to nurturing the happiness and well-being of its people.

“Whether you’re a literary aficionado, an avid traveler, or simply curious to explore the hidden gems of Bhutan, DLAF 2024 promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired, enlightened, and longing to return year after year. Come, be a part of this literary odyssey, and let the words of Bhutan’s storytellers weave their magic upon your soul,” DoT’s press release reads. .

Meanwhile, Bhutan Echoes is a not-for-profit organization that coordinates and produces events to promote literature, culture, and art in Bhutan and culminating in the Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival, an annual international literary festival held in Bhutan. Her Majesty the Queen Mother of Bhutan, Gyalyum Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck is the Chief Patron of Bhutan Echoes: Drukyul’s Literature Festival.

Drukyul’s Literature and Arts Festival is an annual celebration of literature and arts in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. The festival is an independently organized not-for-profit event that is free and open to all.

The Department of Tourism of Bhutan is responsible for the development and promotion of sustainable tourism in Bhutan. It works to share the Kingdom’s remarkable places, people and experiences with conscious travelers, guided by the principles of high-value, low-volume tourism.

Staff Reporter, Thimphu