Festivals best define the culture, tradition, religion, and lifestyle of any place. Asia, being one of the most ethnically diverse regions of the world has some of the unique and beautiful festivals. Festivals here are known for their vibrancy, richness, and unity of the community celebrating them. Families get together and share happiness and traditional rituals. Locals also welcome visitors and travelers to join them with the celebrations.
Asia is a garden of vibrant and lively festivals. For travelers festivals are some of the best times to visit this continent. Some of these festivals define the culture and lifestyle of a place while others are the religious occasions followed through generations. Most of the festivals offer once in a lifetime stories within them. Getting out of your daily life, be one with a random place, and delights in Asia. The best thing about the festival in Asia is that it always comes with plenty of tasty delicious foods. These Asian foods and drinks act as a bonus treat to any festival in Asia.
Be a part of the local celebration and try to share the joy and bonding with them in these amazing festivals in Asia. Here we present you 11 of the most wondrous Asian festivals that you can be a part of in your next vacation.
1. Tshechu, Bhutan
Tshechu is the biggest and most widely celebrated festival in Bhutan. It is celebrated on the 10th day of a lunar calendar every month. Different locations and regions of Bhutan have special Tshechu in different months. Paro and Thimphu are proven to have some of the most lively and activity-rich celebrations. The traditional songs, dances, clothes, and snacks are some of the main attractions to share with the locals here. Try being in one of these cities for the best experiences of Tshechus.
Tshechu is more popular as it is celebrated pompously in the western Bhutan which is more accessible through Paro Airport. In the Dzongs and Monasteries, there are special celebrations where you can join the locals. Many visitors overlap their tours with the Tshechus for a complete Bhutanese cultural experience.
2. Hanami the ‘Cherry blossom festival’, Japan
Hanami ‘Cherry Blossom Festival’
The season of cherry blooming is one of the best times to take a short walk in Japan. There is a whole festival dedicated to this magical time named Hanami. It is a traditional custom here to enjoy the Sakura with family and friends. Hanami is marked by a special outdoor night party viewing the beautiful blossom decorated with lights and flowers.
This practice of celebrating the cherry blossom ages back to the 7th century and each year locals and thousands of tourists admire this natural phenomenon in different ways. There are feasts that you can join the modern parties on this occasion if you are in Tokyo. Sapporo, Aomori, Niigata, Hiroshima, Kanazawa, and Fukuoka are the other cities to witness and enjoy this majestic festival in Japan.
3. Holi, Nepal/India
Holi of the ‘festival of colors’ is one of the most popular festivals in Asia celebrated all over Nepal and India. This iconic celebration has its root over Hindu legends signifying the victory of the good over evil. The community springs into the celebration with singing and dancing. People wear white clothes for the full visual display of wonderful colors. Joining the locals go carefree and enjoy life as it is meant to celebrating Holi and nothing else. Holi is celebrated generally for a day while in some places events might start early lasting a full week.
Holi welcomes the arrival of spring, celebrates love and the end of winter with laughs, happiness, and colors. Holi generally falls at the end of February or early March depending on the lunar calendar. You might have seen people celebrating in small pockets of Indian/Nepali communities all around the world but for the original experience be there in Holi.
4. Losar, Tibet-Bhutan-Nepal
Losar or ‘Lhosar’ is the main festival in Tibetan Buddhism celebrating the coming of a Tibetan new year. As most people of this region follow the lunar calendar, Losar falls on the first day of the Tibetan calendar. Locals gather in the monasteries and other places to share the joy and celebrate this festival. These places are decorated with colorful prayer flags and flowers.
Snacks and locally made beers are shared and people dance and sing around. Prayers are set and you can watch some traditional dances as well. People dress up in their traditional clothes and just enjoy this festival. Losar can last for multiple days to a week depending upon the places and community celebrating this festival.
5. LoiKrathong, Thailand
LoiKrathong is one of the best family festivals in Asia. People of all ages enjoy this festival in the Kingdom of Thailand and other nearby countries. Literally translating as “to float a basket’, it represents making decorated baskets to float down the rivers. To thank the Goddess of water, these Krathong are made during the full moon day in the last month of Thai Calendar. This festival is celebrated under different names but under the same principle i.e., offering to the goddess of Water. LoiKrathong is a touching experience, a festival teaching one to be thankful, sit back, and enjoy nature as it is.
If you are in chang Mai, during this period another beautiful festival Yi Peng overlaps LoiKrathong. Similar to the baskets, Paper Lanterns are released into the sky with some prayer written on them. Thousands of these on a full moon day is a sight to behold and treasure in Thailand.
6. The Rocket Festival “Boun Bang Fai”, Laos
Boun Bang Fai
Boun Bang Fai is a unique festival or commonly known as the ‘Rocket Festival’ in Laos and Northeast Thailand. As the name suggests thousands of locals bring their homemade r=ckets and fireworks to light up the sky at this festival. Hoping for a good karma and blessing god this festival runs for three days. The starting events mainly consist of singing, dancing, and fairs, while on the third-day participants send up their rockets ending this festival.
Boun Bang Fai represents the start of monsoon. This festival takes travelers closer to the legends, tradition, lifestyle, and the people of these regions. Different from the western festivals and celebrations, Boung Bang Fai showcases the art, dedication, and the vibrant hospitality of Lao people. Be a part of this experience and treat yourself with a thrilling vacation in Asia.
7. Sinulog Festival, the Philippines
Sinulog-Santo Nino Festival or simply Sinulog is an annual religious and cultural festival held in Cebu City, Philipines. More than a million people attend this festival in honor of Santo Nino, the child of Christ. This festival is among the liveliest occasion in the Philippines. Sinulog Festival is also popular for street parties where you can be a part of the celebration itself.
The Sinulog Grand Parade is vibrant and memorable with beautiful dresses, processions, and irresistible drum beats. The whole environment is festive and travelers connect with the people best during this festival. A bonus point goes to some fantastic foods that you can try around this festival here.
8. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, China
Harbin Ice Festival
The Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival is a winter festival annually taking place in Harbin, China. It is the largest snow and ice demonstrating festival in the world. Each year over 20 million people attend this grand festival lasting well over a month from January to February. The ice sculptures glowing in beautiful lights and different events each day make this festival a perfect way to wrap up your vacation in Asia.
There are three main venues that you can visit during daylight or evening. For visiting during the day head to the Sun Island area while the Ice and Snow world displays major attractions and monuments of China. Next visit the Zhaolin Park, with thousands of majestic sculptures for the viewers. With music and other fairs, Harbin Ice and snow sculpture festival is one to experience at least once in your lifetime.
9. Thaipusam, Malaysia
Thaipusam is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated by the Hindu Tamils in Malaysia. A festival of the devotees showing their gratitude towards Lord Murugan, the god of war. The celebration for the locals starts a month ahead with a strict vegetarian diet and preparation for the main day of the festival. A massive sacrificial wooden sacrifice is prepared decorated with peacock feathers, colorful flowers, bells, and small pots of milk. If you are here during the Thaipusam festival, you can have a closer look at the Hindu rites and traditional celebrations in Malaysia.
You can be at the Batu Caves in Malaysia with thousands of other pilgrims for this festival. This holy site attracts thousands of pilgrims and you can see the festival along with its constituents on a full scale. If you are in Singapore, you can join the procession at Sri SrinivasaPerumal Temple during Thaipusam.
10. Naadam Festival, Mongolia
Nadaam is one of the most interesting traditional festivals in Asia celebrated every year from 11 to 13th July in Mongolia. Naadam is connected to the traditional nomadic lifestyle and culture in rural Mongolia. Archery, horse riding, Mongolian wrestling, and dances highlight this amazing festival. You can try different kinds of local snacks and beers while you are here. You can see the locals wearing beautiful Deel and united to celebrate this majestic festival.
Special Starting ceremony is held in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia featuring mass dances and events. Other nomadic sports and traditional activities complete the Naadam festival. Try some horse milk and Khuushuur served around the celebration spots here. You have to be around here to get more of the rich Mongolian culture and tradition during the Naadam Festival.
11. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
Boryeong Mud Festival
Boryeong Mud Festival is celebrated in the town of Boryeong about 200 km south of the capital Seoul. Each year more than a million people are attracted here in this festival of over 2 weeks. Most locals especially from western Korea visit Boryeong for the festival during the second weekend period. Boryeong festival is a time to lose yourself and enjoy with the locals with mud sports and events.
The mud ofBoryeong is popular around the nation for its cosmetic properties. This was the original attraction for the area which soon transformed into the Boryeong Mud Festival. Music and dances are the added bonus with a chance to enjoy some western Korean cuisine during the festival.
Apart from the above-mentioned festivals, there are other major festivals as well that you will love to be a part of the locals. Songkran in Thailand is celebrated during the traditional Thai New Year all over Southeast Asia. Tihar is another underrated festival in Nepal and India also known as ‘the festival of Lights’.
Tet is another south-east Asian festival celebrated as the Vietnamese New Year. Bon Om Touk, the moon and water festival of Cambodia is one for culture and adventure lovers celebrated completely in water. Also, there is the Qingdao International Beer Festival, with the aim of sharing the Chinese beer-culture with the world.
Festivals are special and traveling around this time mostly gives us more to just the tour. With guaranteed additional delights and some of the beautiful moments to cherish, know the local culture better visiting Asia during these majestic festivals.