The Litang festival, slated this year for Aug. 1 and lasting for five days, is one of the biggest and brightest on the Tibetan Plateau. Given that it's just two days' drive from Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, it's also one of the more accessible of the summer festivals that take place across what was once the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Khama sweeping expanse of grassland now incorporated into Sichuan, the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Qinghai and Yunnan. Many of the thousands of Tibetan nomads (or Khampas)swathed in fox-lined cloaks, their necks strewn with red coral, turquoise and ambertravel for several weeks to reach Litang for a riotous few days of dancing, drinking, singing and horse racing. Most live in dreadfully inhospitable regions, cut off by heavy snow for up to eight months of the year; subsequently, this is the great highlight of the social calendar, and many meager incomes are blown on stunning silks, furs and jewels, just for the event. The Litang festival and others like it were banned during the Cultural Revolution and for many years afterward because of their tribal origins, but they've made a comeback in recent years with official blessing. As well as colorful nomads, you can expect to find busloads of Chinese tourists and military, plus a program studded with official speeches. For some Khampas, the Chinese presence isn't welcome, but most are happy just to come in from the cold.