Myanmar is often called the land of festivals and its citizens love to throw events and festivals all year round. It is among the greatest experiences one can enjoy when discovering this great nation. It happens all year around and all over the country. Below is an outline of the main festivities. Please confirm dates with us before booking any trip, as these dates change every year due to the Buddhist lunar calendar followed in Myanmar.
The Kachin Manaw Festival is a delightful festival and one of the most popular in Myanmar. It is held in Myitkyina and Putao in Kachine state. It celebrates the New Year, victory in battles, reunion of the tribes and more. Everybody joins the spiritual dance lined up behind one another. The traditional Manaw poles are decorated in colourful Kachin motifs and are centred in the middle of the festival ground. All who came to the festival wear their best traditional costume and the main feature of the festival is dancing around the erected Manaw poles.
The Ananda Pagoda Festival symbolizes the limitless wisdom of Buddha. It is a month-long sanctified festival for the temple Ananda, which is the most beautiful one out of 2,000 holy monuments in Bagan. The busiest day of the festival is on the full-moon day of the lunar month. Villagers and pilgrims around Bagan roll in the sacred site of Ananda for the consecration. The festival is also meant for social gathering, reunification, propagation and perpetuation of the religion that is Buddhism. During the festival, walk around the sea of vendors and shops that sell traditional Myanmar food and enjoy the local atmosphere.
The Mahamuni Pagoda Festival takes place in Mandalay and falls on the full moon day of Thabodwe. It usually lasts for two days. Delicate glutinous rice contests are being held on the pagoda’s platform. A variety of incense sticks are burnt for the Myanmar Buddha image on the full moon day and thousands of people from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni Pagoda. The temple is always the centre of activities and during this festival it explodes with energy.
The Salone festival is held at Majungalet Village on Bocho Island near Lampi Island in Myeik, Thanintharyi division. It is celebrated every year to promote Salon and Myeik Archipelago as one of the main tourism attractions for international markets. You will witness traditional and spiritual dances, diving competitions and a fascinating way of life. There are also rowing competitions, folk singing and a traditional Salone feast. The Salone people, or sea gypsies, live nomadic sea lives for seven months of the year, living off their ingenuity and the resources of the ocean.
The ShweDagon Pagoda Festival takes place in Yangon and is celebrated on the full moon day of Tauaung every year. It happens on the hill of Seinguttra in the richest and most stunning pagoda you can ever see. The Stupa of shimmering gold measures 326 feet and is the second-tallest religious structure in the country. With its glittering crown embedded with precious gems and weight of gold beyond enumeration, it remains one of the modern wonders of the world.
The Kakku Pagoda Festival takes place on the full moon day of Tabaung, which is the last month of the Myanmar lunar calendar. It begins usually two or three days in advance, for this is not just a religious festival but also a social occasion. It is the time for all to have fun, exchange news and gossip, and to trade. For the youngsters, it is the set time to meet their friends from other villages or for the boys to fall in love with the girls. People of the region arrive by the thousands dressed in their traditional costumes. Some come in bullock carts while others arrive by more modern conveyances on the village tractor. The most interesting time to visit during this event is to get there before dawn of the full moon day of Tabaung where the Pa O people in all their finery come with gaily decorated trays bearing morning food offerings.
The Mann Shwe Sattaw Pagoda Festival is one of the most significant pagoda festivals in upper Myanmar. It usually lasts from mid-February to mid-April. It is situated 36 miles away from Magwe and people from the entire nation come to experience the pilgrimage to a sacred and holy place. The footprints of Lord Buddha are to be seen as well as amazing panoramic views. Another exhilarating experience is the final bathing taken in cool, clean and sparkling waters of Mann Creek after an exhausting day. This place is simply beautiful, peaceful and pleasant. A must see and not to be missed on your journey.
The Mekong Water Festival also takes place in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. It is believed to wash away sins and to welcome the New Year. The festival is the most popular and colourful celebration of the year for 20 million people who will abandon any thoughts of work and bring their nation to a standstill. People around the country gather together and visit pagodas, make offers and pay homage to the monks, play traditional games and celebrate with their joyous spirit. After playing around and having fun throughout the country, the city-dwellers welcome the New Year on the 17th by cleaning the floors of the pagodas and monasteries, washing elderly people’s hair, and help them cut their nails. Some offer free food and drinks for everyone who visits the pagodas, some make donations. If you can be there, you will never forget the true joy.
The Bo Tree Watering Festival takes place all over the country during the month of May. It celebrates spring season when water pours into ponds, lakes and creeks. The people of Myanmar march in a grand procession to the pagodas, to the Bodhi tree and to the holy Banyan tree where Buddha attained enlightenment to pour scented water. On the full moon day of Kason, Buddhist devotees celebrate not only the water pouring ceremony at the Bodhi tree but also perform meritorious deeds by keeping Sabbath, meditation, offering flowers, light, water and incense to the images of lord Buddha.
The Taung Byone Festival is only about an hour drive from Bagan and this festival is usually held for three days. Devotees from all over Myanmar come to this special festival and offer their donations and enjoy themselves with the blessings of the spirits, every year. They pray for prosperity, fame, and luck for the coming year. It happens on Mount Popa, a vast volcanic mountain that has many legendary stories about the Nats spirits. The word “Nat” is believed to be derived from the Hindu Natha which means lord, saviour or protector.
The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is usually held during October. The festival takes about 18 days. It is the biggest occasion held in the Inle Lake¸ Shan State, one of the most dazzling and magical places in Asia. The festival is held with great magnificence and pageantry. The holy Buddha’s images are placed on a decorated royal barge and towed by leg-rowers around the lake. Large crowds of people gather on the lake shores to celebrate the occasion, a splendid sight. Leg-rowers compete in Shan traditional boat races.
The Dancing Elephant Festival is also famous in Myanmar. It is held in Kyaukse, near Mandalay. It is a marvellous performance of two men that takes place inside a huge elephant figure made from bamboo and paper. The men dance around the town to the accompaniment of dobat and drums. The elephant dancers circle three times at the foot of the hill to pay homage to the Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda. The dance requires precise rhythm and timing in order for the elephant dancers to maintain unity inside the elephant figure. People from far and near come to visit Kyaukse and watch the elephant dance.
The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival is a special lights celebration that takes place on the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut where locals offer 9000 lighted candles and 9000 flowers to the Buddha. The next morning, rice, sweets and other snacks are offered. The pagodas’ platform and passage are suddenly filled with visitors and most hotels in the area are fully booked well in advance. Note that appropriate clothing is recommended since the weather is cold up on the mountain.
The Tazaungmon Festival is an auspicious time for the offering of yellow robes to the monks. The Buddha’s mother, reincarnated as a god in Tavatimsa, perceived from her heavenly abode that her son would soon be discarding the royal robes and wearing a monk’s garments. She wanted to provide the yellow robes of the monk and she had only a night’s time. But she had it woven in a single night and offered it to the Prince Siddhartha by a celestial messenger. In commemoration of this event, weaving competitions of yellow robes are held all over the country.
The Lu Ping Festival takes place in Taunggyi, the capital of the Southern Shan State. It is commonly known as the hot balloon festival celebrated by Pa O, one of the many ethnic groups in the region. On the occasion people enjoy fun and merriment by holding firework-launching competitions. The firework is in the form of rockets. There are also hot balloons competitions on the day and night occasions. Day balloons are usually in the form of Pagodas, and animals such as elephants, dragons or ducks. The night balloons are usually in the shape of a rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small lighted multicoloured paper lanterns.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN INDONESIA
- January 1
Kayin New Year Day
- January 4
- February 12
- March 2
- March 15
Tabaung Full Moon Day
- March 27
Armed Force Day
- April 12
Myanmar New Year
- April 13, 14, 15, 16
- May 1
World Workers’ Day
- May 13
Fullmoon Day of Kaso
- July 11
Fullmoon Day of Waso
- July 19
- October 8
Fullmoon Day of Thidinkyut
- Novermber 6
Fullmoon Day of Tazaungmoe
- November 16
- December 21
Kayin New Year Day
- December 25