Don't miss these incredible festivals in Asia...
Loi Krathong Lantern festival - Thailand
WHAT: The Loi Krathong lantern festival in Thailand is one of the most picturesque festivals in the world, celebrated annually on the night of the twelfth lunar month (usually in November).
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: November, just after the rainy season.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
WHY: Over 10,000 lanterns are lit up and sent to the sky, followed by a gathering around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water. Incredible lotus shaped rafts with candles, incense and flowers are released out onto the water – making this a magical spectacle for all.
This event is particularly beautiful in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand with plenty of atmosphere for travellers and events held around town. Market stalls line the Ping River, and the popular night market lines the streets of Chiang Mai with plenty of local food, souvenirs, art, handicraft etc.
Songkran water festival - Thailand
WHAT: Songkran festival – A three-day water fight throughout Thailand.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: Thai new year, April 13 – 15.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Bangkok, Chiang Mai or the Thai Islands.
WHY: This water festival is Thailand’s way of welcoming the New Year with one BIG water fight. Imagine it if your entire country shut down and soaked each other. For three days straight. Welcome to Songkran. Think water pistols, balloons, spray bottles, buckets, hoses – anything you can think of that can hold water, they’ll use it! It’s no regular water fight though, there are plenty of celebrations, elaborate floats and events around town. This festival is a huge and cultural event in Thailand and viewed as a fresh start for people (hence the symbollic use of water).
TIPS: Please do take care when partaking in this festival.Try to avoid getting yourself or somebody else in the mouth or eyes as Thailand’s water is often contaminated.
Cherry blossoms festival - Japan
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: Spring time, so late March – Mid April.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hakone.
WHY: The natural bloom of cherry blossoms is truly a magical time in Japan. The entire country comes alive; parks, streets, rivers, and cities are glittered in beautiful shades of white and pink blossoms.
If you’re in Tokyo, head to Shinjuku Gyoen Park, one of the largest and most popular parks. This is quite possibly the best park for optimum flower power. In Kyoto, Maruyama-kōen at night turns into an oasis, as you dine under a thick blanket of blossoms.
TIPS: Partake in Hanami, a picnic party anywhere where cherry blossoms are seen. Be sure to keep up to date with the scheduled timings of cherry blossoms as each city blossoms at different times.
Holi festival - India
WHAT: The festival of colours or the festival of love.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: Spring time in India, February/March.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Varanasi, Goa, Mathura and Vrindavan.
WHY: The reason this festival exists is to celebrate the new season of Spring but Hindus also believe that it’s the one day of the year that the Gods look away and they can rid themselves of ‘evil’ before you are reborn.
So to celebrate, buy a few supplies in the form of water pistols, water bombs, coloured dye and gulal (powder). Everybody comes together on the streets and WILL aim to drown you in a sea of colours.
TIPS: Use natural dye so it can easily wash off. Dive in deep with an open mind and deep appreciation for its culture and traditions.
Winter light festival - Japan
WHAT: A winter light festival.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: Mid Nov – Mid March.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Kuwana city, Nabana No Sato.
WHY: This flower-focused park features MASSIVE gardens and greenhouses with one of Japan’s finest illuminations – the famous tunnel of light! Over 7 million LED lights line the Nabana botanical garden making it a mind-blowing experience.
TIPS: Pack your warmer clothes and have your camera’s ready!
Chinese New Year - Vietnam
WHAT: TET Holiday a.k.a Vietnamese Luna new years.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: The first day of the lunar month. Likely to fall between end of Jan – Feb.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh.
WHY: Tet is the most important and largest celebration in Vietnam. Many have described it as a time where Christmas meets New Years, and marks for the arrival of Spring in the New Year.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Vietnam during this time, be sure to join in on the festivities. In Hanoi, locals all flock to Hoàn Kiếm Lake to watch the fireworks.
The streets are generally crowded, there’s fireworks and people left, right and centre will wish each other good health and good luck using the phrase ‘chúc mừng năm mới’ – meaning Happy New Year.
TIPS: Be prepared to eat a lot. Plan and book in advance as this is a huge holiday period with many local shops closing down to celebrate.
Harbin International Ice and snow sculpture festival - China
WHAT: The largest ice and snow sculpture in the world in China
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: January 5th – February 25th
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Harbin, China
WHY: Apart from the fact it’s the largest one in the world, it’s also pretty impressive with it’s GIANT ice sculptures, ice lantern parks, a winter carnival, fireworks, and a multicoloured light display. The sculptures are HUGE and the construction is no easy task; swing saws are used to carve the ice blocks from the Songhua river and then intricately carved and designed by sculptors.
TIPS: Bring your warmer clothes.
Bali Spirit Festival - Bali
WHAT: A Bali Spirit Festival for health and wellness.
WHEN YOU SHOULD GO: March – April.
BEST PLACE TO CELEBRATE: Ubud, Bali – Indonesia.
WHY: BaliSpirit is one of those festivals that will inspire and energize you for months to come and you’re likely to make a handful of new best friends at this festival built on camaraderie. They believe in the power of ‘Yoga, Dance and Music.’ Presenters from all over the world come here to motivate, inspire and help you make healthier lifestyle choices – spiritually, emotionally and physically. If you love yoga and care about your health – this one’s for you!
TIPS: Be friendly and open to making new friends. If you plan on staying a little longer in Bali, explore the Ubud area or make your way to the Gili Islands and soak up that island life.