When it comes to having fun, eating well and celebrating life, Asia festivals have got it in the bag. After all, the largest continent in the world is so diverse, it offers one festival experience totally unique compared to the next.
We’ve already talked about the best times to visit various parts of Asia, but if you want to go deeper into the traditions, customs and more of Asian locals, you shouldn’t miss the colors, flavors and overall fun of Asia festivals.
Experience Asian culture with these upcoming festivals in Asia:
Where: In various cities all over Thailand
When: April 13 to 15
Watch out for: the nonstop water splashing on Khao San Road and Silom Road in Bangkok, and at Patong Beach in Phuket. A three-day event that marks the Thai new year, what seems to be the wettest of all Asia festivals is both cultural with carousal. Get wet and wild at the nationwide soaking on the first day, Wan Sungkham Long. Build sand pagodas and sand Buddha statues during the Wan Nao, the second day of celebration. Make a New Year’s wish while at a street procession or a temple offering on Wan Payawan, the official first day of the Thai calendar.
Viyahe tip: Travel to Ayutthaya if you’re more into the established than the entertaining. Receive blessings from monks as you pour water onto their hands. Bathe Buddha statues with flower-scented water. Roll in the mud with a bunch of playful elephants, too!
Winter Light Festival (Nabana No Sato)
Where: Nagashima, Kuwana City, Japan
When: late October to mid-March
Watch out for: the two main illuminated tunnels, featuring a creative display of lights, fabric, nature and music. Over 8.5 million LED lights make up the winter wonderland that usually depict displays of nature, like mountains, waterfalls, the aurora borealis and more. Come early and enjoy the many amenities of the entire Nagashima Resort. Marvel at the countless varieties of flowers in bloom year round at the Begonia Garden and the Andes Flower Garden. Rest your feet after all the walking at their relaxing outdoor hot spring foot baths free for you to enjoy!
Viyahe tip: Suit up for the weather as this region of the country tends to be more than a bit nippy at night. Thinking of avoiding crowds? Visit on a weekday instead of going in a weekend.
Taiwan Lantern Festival
When: February 19
Watch out for: the “Sky Lanterns in the North, the Beehive Fireworks in the South.” At the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, write wishes on your Kongming lanterns before releasing them to the sky. At the Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival, watch as the sky is filled with thousands of fireworks of all shapes, sizes and colors in both traditional and modern themes.
Viyahe tip: Do something that honours Taiwanese tradition as this Asia festival falls on the first full moon of Chinese New Year. Participate in the bombing of Master Han Dan, and watch dance performances. Eat yuan xiao (glutinous rice dumplings), solve lantern riddles, and fully enjoy the fete.
Where: Cebu, Philippines
When: Third Sunday of January
Watch out for: the street dance parade! Energetic, fun and very colourful, the Sinulog Festival is the perfect venue to put your hair down and dance your worries away! Snack on some dried mangos, lechon (roasted suckling pig) or otap (oval crispy pastry made of eggs, shortening, flour, sugar and margarine). Have your pick of the best street-dancing team at the annual Sinulog Contest, featuring the talents of groups from different parts of the country.
Viyahe tip: Pay homage to Señor Santo Niño or the Child Jesus, the patron of the festival. Head downtown to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño. (Have a few more days to spare? Visit the other beautiful historical destinations that make the country special!)
Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Where: Harbin, Heilongjang, China
When: December to February
Watch out for: the two main exhibition areas in the world’s biggest winter festival! Start you day early and take in the snow sculptures at the Sun Island, which can only be visited during daytime. Be in awe of the gigantic ice sculptures at the Ice and Snow World, all colourfully lit at night. Treat the young ones to a world of ice lanterns, magical figures and animals at the Zhaolin Park.
Viyahe tip: Pack extra batteries or a power charger! Because of the region’s all-time low temperature, camera batteries usually last for a shorter period of time than usual. Keep your camera inside your jacket when not in use and make sure not to miss any picturesque moments while enjoying the many activities in Harbin.
Boryeong Mud Festival
Where: Boryeong (Daecheon), South Chungcheong, South Korea
When: July 13-22
Watch out for: mud, mud and more mud! But before you wrinkle your nose in disgust, think again: this mineral rich mud is the perfect solution to chasing the summer heat away. Bring the whole family to the Boryeong Mud Festival Family Zone and just dive into it! Participate in the Mudflat Games: mudflat wrestling, football, marathon and more. Show a bit of pizzazz by having your face and body painted with coloured mud.
Viyahe tip: If the thought still makes you iffy, check out other non-mud related activities happening during the ten-day festival. Experience the yacht parade. Make new friends at the Global Festival Fair. Listen to the best of K-Pop and more at the World K-Pop Concert.
Bali Kite Festival
Where: Padang Galak, Sanur Beach, Bali
When: July to August
Watch out for: the Bebean (fish-shaped), Janggan (bird-shaped) and Pecan (leaf-shaped) kites traditionally flown during the festival. Listen to the gamelan orchestra as a team of 70 to 80 people attempt to fly gigantic kites to win the annual competition. See detailed three-dimensional kites in the kreasi baru, a new competition for those up to an extra challenge.
Viyahe tip: Missed the festival? Not to worry! Attend any of the other kite competitions in the region, spanning beyond August and well into October! (While you’re at it, get your backpacking game on! Here are a few pointers!)