BHIF: Bhutan International Festival, the first of its kind, will be held in Thimphu from February 14 to 23.  The 10-day festival will celebrate Bhutanese music, culture and arts.

The festival will be organised also to commemorate the 35th birth anniversary of His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the 60th birth anniversary of the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, and the ‘Visit Bhutan Year 2015’.

The festival will enable local artists and musicians to collaborate with international counterparts.

The event is expected to help boost the tourism industry, and to promote Bhutan as an exciting travel destination.

Punam Rai, arts coordinator of BhIF, said that the festival was to showcase local talent.

“The festival will celebrate arts and its components, such as photography, films, music, food,” said photography curator Upasana Dahal. “It will build a cross-cultural collaboration among artists, and create and finance new opportunities in the realm of creative arts.  It will also showcase Bhutan at its most magical state, and provide a new platform for artistic expression.”

About 50 international artists and musicians will perform during the festival that will include five major events – art festival, Thimphu international music festival, Bhutan international film festival, Bhutan international marathon, and Bhutan international food festival.

The festival will be a non-profit event.  The organisers are expecting to make the event self-sustaining through multiple fund-raising activities.  The organisers also hope to make the festival an annual event to position Bhutan as a creative heavyweight.

The idea of the festival was suggested by James Fitzgerald, a New York-based businessman and entrepreneur, and the founder and chairman of Bhutan Ventures.  James Fitzgerald then recruited Justin Wickham, a former documentary producer from the UK, who is the director of BBC Television and the founder and executive director of non-profit education group Learning Planet, based in Nepal and India.  They then began to seek partners and sponsors for the festival.

The coordinators of the festival comprise different individuals working through their own personal initiatives.  The promoter of the festival will, however, be Dragon Festival, which will be established as a non-profit organisation in Bhutan.

By Younten Tshedup