Asia is a colourful and vibrant destination with plenty of religious and cultural events and activities happening every month of the year. Here are the top events in 2017 to look forward to in Asia’s top cities that we’d recommend planning your next holiday around:
Mahamuni Pagoda Festival
Dates: Saturday, 28 Jan – Saturday, 11 Feb 2017
Experience one of the most important festivals in the city of Mandalay when thousands gather to worship the sacred Gautama Buddha statue, the most important Buddhist monument in the city that can be found at the Mahamuni Buddhist Temple. Book a trip to Myanmar.
Dates: Friday, 10 Feb 2017
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that honours the Hindu god of war. The festival lasts two to three days and is celebrated with a large annual chariot procession and a barefoot pilgrimage. In Singapore, the festival begins at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and in Kuala Lumpur, pilgrims undertake a 15 kilometre march to the Batu Caves. Book a trip to Malaysia and Singapore.
Chingay Parade in Singapore
Dates: 10 – 11 Feb 2017
The Perfume Pagoda Festival
Dates: Saturday, 11 Feb 2017
Experience the Perfume Pagoda Festival, Vietnam’s most famous Buddhist pilgrimage when thousands of pilgrims travel on boats and on foot to reach a sacred cave to pray for prosperity in the year ahead. Book a trip to Vietnam.
Meak Bochea Day
Dates: Saturday, 11 Feb 2017
Meak Bochea Day is a religious holiday observed on the full moon. The festival commemorates the final sermon given by Buddha where he summarises the “heart of Buddhism” into three values: ceasing from all evil, doing only what is good, and cleansing the mind. On this day, hundreds of monks gather to perform scared rituals at Oudong Mountain near Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Book a trip to Cambodia.
Chap Goh Meh (Chinese New Year)
Dates: Saturday, 11 Feb 2017
Informally known as Chinese Valentine’s Day, the Chap Goh Meh Celebration in Penang is a romantic day when young unmarried women gather to throw oranges into the sea in the hopes of finding a suitable soul mate. Throughout the day, the love song Dondang Sayand is sung in the streets, accompanied by violins and drums. Book your trip to Malaysia.
Dates: Monday, 13 March 2017
The Holi Festival of Colours, also known as the Festival of Love, is an ancient Hindu festival in India to celebrate the start of spring. It’s a time for renewing friendships and mending past conflicts with the philosophy that love triumphs over evil. Celebrations include bonfires, singing and dancing to the sound of dholak drums as well as the more widespread practise of throwing brightly coloured powder at people in the crowd. Combine your visit with a Taj, Temples and Tigers holiday.
Nyepi Day / the Balinese Day of Silence
Dates: Tuesday, 28 March 2017
The Balinese New Year is celebrated over the course of six days. On the third day, there is Nyepi Day, also known as the Balinese Day of Silence. On this day, Bali comes to a standstill and no activity is permitted (that means no flights and no one can enter or leave during this time) and the day is devoted to self-reflection and indoor meditation. Don’t miss the Ogoh-Ogoh parades on Nyepi Eve when huge statues are carried through the streets by torchlight with loud music and plenty of noise in an effort to scare away evil spirits. Book a trip to Bali.
Full Moon Party
Dates: Sunday, 12 March 2017
Don’t miss the much-anticipated Full Moon Party in Bangkok. This all-night beach party takes place once a month on the beach of Haad Rin and includes all sorts of music genres, from trance to techno. Join the neon-clad partygoers and be entertained by jugglers, fire-eaters and fireworks throughout the night. Book a trip to Bangkok.
Dates: Monday, 13 – Wednesday, 15 April 2017
The annual Songkran Festival celebrates New Year’s Day in Thailand and is essentially the world’s largest water fight. Chiang Mai has Thailand’s biggest water festival parade where you can join the crowds on the streets, spraying each other with water from buckets, water pistols and hoses. Warning: prepare to get wet! Book a trip to Chiang Mai.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival
Dates: Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Enjoy the festivities of the Cheung Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong, created to celebrate the end of the plague. The highlights of the festival include building large towers out of buns, a children’s parade and the “Bun Snatching” tower climbing competition where competitors race up a tower and try to collect as many buns as they can along the way. In the two to three days leading up to the festival, only vegetarian foods are eaten. Book a trip to Hong Kong.
Visakha Bucha Day
Dates: Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Celebrate Visakha Bucha Day which honours the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha by joining Thai Buddhists on a visit to the local temple to make merit. The religious day occurs at the same time as Uposatha Day and is celebrated on different dates throughout the month of May in Burma, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Dates: Friday, 12 May 2017
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is a historic ritual practised in Thailand and Cambodia in order to the mark the start of the rice growing ceremony. A colourful parade occurs in Cambodia outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and includes oxen racing with locals dressed in colourful traditional clothing. Book a trip to Thailand and Cambodia.
The Dragon Boat Festival
Dates: Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Don’t miss the annual Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, held in Hong Kong. It’s an exciting event filled with plenty of eating, drinking and racing colourful dragon boats made out Teak. Book a trip to Hong Kong.
Bali Arts Festival
Dates: Saturday, 10 June – Saturday, 8 July 2017
The annual Bali Arts Festival is a highlight on the culture calendar for locals and visitors alike when hundreds of artists and artisans from all over the island come together to showcase their art. Visitors can witness dance, puppet shows, music compositions and more at impromptu stages at the Denpasar Art Centre. Book a trip to Bali.
Nha Trang Sea Festival
Dates: Saturday, 10 June – Tuesday 13 June 2017
The Nha Trang Sea Festival is a week-long event held every two years. The festival is a vibrant affair filled with sporting contests, seafood cooking competitions, fairs and workshops that are held on the streets along the river Nha Trang. Book a trip to Vietnam.
International Yoga Day
Dates: Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Cambodia celebrates the International Day of Yoga in three places across the country. Yogis can look forward to joining a yoga session outside some of Cambodia’s most iconic attractions, such as Angkor Wat Temple, the Royal palace in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Book a trip to Cambodia.
Rainforest World Music Festival
Dates: Friday, 14 – Sunday, 16 July 2017
The Rainforest World Music Festival is a unique festival held on the island of Borneo in an exciting celebration of nature, music and culture. The three day festival offers a jam-packed programme filled with famous musicians performing in the middle of the Borneo Jungle. Grab your tickets here. Book a trip to Borneo.
Bali Kite Festival
Dates: Friday, 21 – Sunday, 23 July 2017
Attend the Bali Kite Festival held in the Padang Galak area of Sanur Beach. Witness a sky filled with hundreds of giant kites, some as big as 10 metres long flown from the villages of Denpasar. This religious festival is created for the gods in the hopes of them providing a good year of harvest in Bali. Book a trip to Bali.
Singapore Food Festival
Dates: TBA July 2017
Experience an abundance of Singaporean cuisine at the Singapore Food Festival. The festival features everything from street food to pop up dining. Try interesting foods such as chilli crab pie and laksagne. Book your trip to Singapore.
Hoi An Lantern Festival
Dates: Saturday, 5 August 2017
The Hoi An Lantern Festival is one of the most popular events in southeast Asia. Every month at full moon, the Vietnamese pay their respects to the dead with candlelit ceremonies at temples and floating brightly coloured lanterns down the river – a truly incredible sight to behold. Book a trip to Vietnam.
The Hungry Ghost Festival
Dates: Tuesday, 5 September 2017
The Hungry Ghost Festival, also known as Wandering Soul Day, is a traditional festival held in Hong Kong and Singapore to worship the ancestors. Special ceremonies are performed throughout the day to appease the dead such as burning incense and preparing food three times a day to feed the ghosts. Book a trip to Hong Kong.
Dates: Wednesday, 4 October 2017
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Cake Day, is celebrated in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam to signal the start of the new harvest and honour the moon for the role it plays in the quality of the crops. Celebrations include eating moon cakes, carrying brightly coloured lanterns and watching dragon dances.
Dates: Thursday, 19 October 2017
Don’t miss the vibrant Diwali Festival (also known as Deepavali), the ancient Hindu festival of lights celebrated in Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar. The event signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. Fairs are set up in towns and villages all over the country to honour the festival.
Fire Boat Festival
Dates: TBC October 2017
The Fire Boat Festival, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a day that marks the end of Buddhist Lent. Villagers build a large boat out of the trunk of a banana tree and fill it with bright lights and colours before setting it off down the river – and with it, they release any negative energy. As many as 20,000 boats floating down the river at night creates a magical scene that is not to be missed. Book a trip to Laos.
Dates: Saturday, 4 November 2017
Loi Krathong, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the oldest traditions in Thailand and certainly one of the most beautiful. The highlight of the event is when people release lotus-shaped rafts adorned with burning candles onto the water to signify the end of the rice harvest and the release of any negativity. The river lit up in candlelight is a sight not to be missed. Book a trip to Thailand.
Bon Om Thouk
Dates: Friday, 3 November – Sunday, 5 November 2017
Bon Om Thouk is Cambodia’s exciting water festival that marks the end of the monsoon season. This three day festival is filled with parties and festivities along the riverside, including large illuminated river floats, exploding fireworks and thrilling boat racing events. Book a trip to Cambodia.
Thai Silk and Phuk Seow Festival
Dates: Wednesday, 29 November – Sunday, 10 December 2017
The Thai Silk and Phuk Seow Festival is held for ten days and is known as the greatest silk fair in the country. Highlights include a street parade, folklore stories and silk production demonstrations – all in honour of Thailand’s spectacular silk industry. Book a trip to Thailand.
Oc Om Boc Festival
Dates: TBC 2017
The Oc Om Boc Festival is a celebration to thank the deities for a year of good harvest. Highlights include the flying of colourful paper lanterns and a traditional Ngo boat race down the river. Book a trip to Vietnam.
Dates: December 2017
Christmas Wonderland is Singapore’s largest yuletide fair held in the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore. Explore this jolly extravaganza over the festive season with its bright lights and heartfelt Christmas carols. Book your trip to Singapore.
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