There are many lively and fascinating festivals all across Asia at various times of the year. If you time your trip with one of these excellent festivals you are sure to have a memorable time and add that extra-special something to your holiday.
Asia already has a wonderful blend of cultures, traditions, landscapes, climates, and things to do and see. A journey through the different countries is certainly varied, with each offering something completely different for adventurers and explorers. Even the cuisine is quite distinct in many of the different nations!
There are also numerous festivals and celebrations across the continent that provide both lots of fun for participants and by-standers, and also allow a visitor to take a peek into the wonderful traditions and rituals of any given place. Festivals are typically a time when people are happy and go all out with preparations for events – they are also usually filled with lots of colour and energy! Visit a variety of exciting festivals at many destinations.
Of course, there are some festivals that are celebrated internationally, such as New Year, and those that are celebrated across a number of different places, such as Chinese New Year. These are heaps of fun too. For something unusual and unique though, why not check out one of these great Asian festivals?
A Riot of Colour!
Holi is an incredibly colourful festival. It is celebrated by Hindus all around the world, although the largest events take place in India. The date changes each year as it is based on the lunar calendar; it typically falls in either March or April. It is at the start of springtime in India and it welcomes the arrival of the new season, celebrates the end of winter, signifies new beginnings, and is symbolic of the triumph of good over evil.
The rituals start the evening before the main day, with joyous singing and dancing around a large bonfire. The next morning is when the real fun begins though … people wander the streets with drums and other musical instruments, playing music, singing, and dancing. This really helps to set the scene for merriment. The main feature of Holi is the vibrant colours. People take to the streets and throw coloured powders and water at each other – this can happen in any public place and nobody is spared! Traditionally, people also take time to visit their family and friends, enjoying food and drink as they go.
Prepare to Get Wet!
Another fun festival, Songkran makes the start of the traditional Thai New Year. Although historically it followed the lunar calendar, the date was eventually fixed for ease – it is now generally held between the 13th and 15th of April, spanning the three days. In Chiang Mai, the celebrations last for five days and in Phuket they begin and finish a day earlier. The traditional part of Songkran is that people visit the temples, make merit, and wash the Buddha images. The water is then used to sprinkle on elders as a sign of respect and a blessing for the year to come.
The real fun part though is how this festival has evolved into a massive water fight over the years! People take to the streets for a frenzied water fight, with hose pipes, water guns, barrels of iced water, sprinklers, and almost any other way you can think of for people to get wet! As the festival is at one of the hottest times of the year, the water can actually feel really refreshing – even the icy water! Some people play in the streets whilst others ride around in the back of pickup trucks, moving from place to place, stopping to replenish water supplies every so often. A chalky paste is also used to smear on people’s faces and it is not uncommon to see people taking a dip in rivers, canals, moats, and other water sources.
Mud Festival, South Korea
This is held in a city called Boryeong, on the mud flats at Daecheon beach. It falls in the Korean summer, in July, between the 18th and 27th of the month. The brainchild of a cosmetics company in order to promote and sell their mud based beauty products, it has grown into a massively popular event that draws people from all around the country as well as large international visitors. It really is a very unique celebration!
Whether you want to take part or simply watch from the sidelines, you are sure to have a great time. The mud wrestling and mud sliding are widely loved, and you can also swim in the sea, relax with a mud massage, and see the numerous benefits of mud in a wide range of products. If you are feeling energetic why not join in with the extreme training course? There are fireworks, competitions, and fun galore! The surrounding scenery is also very beautiful, so you can add other things to your festival trip too.
Aguman Sanduk, The Philippines
Running for over 80 years, the Aguman Sanduk festival is held on the first of January each year. It takes place in a town called Minalin in Pampanga. It started as a way to bring some happiness to a community that was suffering the harsh effects of drought, and it became a much-loved annual tradition. Although anyone can watch and join in with the games, competitions, and other fun activities, the main parade is strictly for men only … men who have primped and preened to cross-dressing beautiful-ness! Carrying ladles, the men wear vibrant makeup and elaborate costumes and make their way through the town from the Santa Domingo arch, shimmying and shaking to traditional music, eventually ending at the plaza in front of St. Monica Church. A beauty King is then chosen – called Reyna Ning Aguman Sanduk.
Sky Lantern Festival, Taiwan
Although many towns and cities across Asia celebrate lantern festivals, one of the most beautiful is at a small Taiwanese town called Pingxi. Held on the 15th day of the first lunar month, anyone can join in and send a lantern with their hopes, dreams, and desires soaring into the sky. A different theme is chosen each year and lanterns are typically decorated according to the theme. The theme is often related to the Chinese horoscope. Cast your eyes upwards and be filled with an awesome sight as thousands of small lanterns are joined by huge wonders (sometimes as big as ten metres!), illuminating the sky.
This is just a small selection of some of the great festivals across Asia. Make sure you read about more in Even More Exciting Festivals in Asia!