The historical eastern Tibetan region of Kham (the other being Amdo) now incorporates both areas of the T.A.R. and large parts of modern-day northern Yunnan and western Sichuan. The attraction of the latter regions, is that they are much more accessible to western travellers (not requiring a Tibetan permit to visit), and still maintain a plethora of authentic Tibetan cultural and religious festivals - if you know where and when to visit.
In early 2015, I was asked by a group of Hong Kong based photographers whether it was possible to arrange a trip to document some of the esoteric Cham dancing and horse-racing festivals that take place every summer throughout western Sichuan. Knowing where and when such events take place is something of a trade secret and rather opaque to outsiders as the dates typically have to both reference the Tibetan calender and be sanctioned by local lamas.
So, in June of that year, we designed a trip to visit a couple of three day festivals that were scheduled to take place in Ganzi prefecture and experienced a number of beautifully rich cultural events. Better still, we were the only outsiders there. Below are some of the photos taken during that trip.
It is also woth noting that, after an absence of almost 10 years, the annual Litang horse-racing festival took place again in August 2016 and, as far as we know, is once again scheduled for 2017.