Mouthwatering food. Vibrant cultures. Unforgettable landscapes. As if Asia needed any more reasons to visit, it’s also the homeland of some of the world’s most thrilling festivals.
Many of the festivals you’re about to read about have been around for 100s of years, attracting visitors from miles around to take part in the important rituals and community spirit that rolls like a joyous crescendo through the foothills and valleys of the alluring continent.
Smile! We're about to uncover some wonderful festivals in Asia
The main question you need to ask yourself is: which one’s are for you?
Explore Asia’s Best Festivals
After you’ve read today’s blog post, don’t just click off! We want to hear what you think about Asia’s most exciting festivals. Perhaps you have the low-down on a little-known festival that we haven’t featured today? Don’t lock it down… let it out! We want to know about it.
Here come the fests…
~4 April – 13 May 2012 | Japan
With the recent disasters that have swept through Japan, there has never been a more poignant year for the Japanese to gather together and celebrate one of the most beautiful festivals in Asia; the Cherry Blossom Festival coincides with the annual bloom of the snow-like cherry blossom. It’s hard to forecast, but plan ahead for a spot in your favourite park.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is among Japan's most prestigious days | Photo by alexandermensa
13 April 2012 | Thailand
Thai New Year is better known as Songkran, and Songkran is better known as the world’s biggest water fight! Don’t be a drip — be prepared to get soaking wet, and covered in flour, as Thai people and tourists join forces to fill the streets with laughter. A word of warning; wear appropriate footwear, the flour/water combo can be seriously slippy!
11 – 13 July 2012 | Mongolia
While the eyes of the sporting world are turning towards London this summer, spare a thought for Mongolia’s “Olympics”. A melee of tradition, highlighting the country’s national sports: wrestling, horse riding, and archery, this is when the nomads return to roost. Also look out for the ankle bone shooting, and various parades.
"Give us a kiss, go on, give us a kiss..."| Photo by Ed-meister
14 – 24 July 2012 | Boryeong, South Korea
Muuuuud fight! There’s no better way to take a break during your travels around Asia, than a soothing mud bath. If that’s what you’re after, Boryeong, in west South Korea is the perfect place to slop around. It’s mud mania, with plenty of mud wrestling, mud sliding and even swimming in the mud mega tub!
13 November 2012 | India
Another of the Indian subcontinent’s headline religious festivals, is Diwali. Also known as the Festival of Lights, this wondrous time of year celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and is signified by the lighting of candles and lanterns, and a fiesta of fireworks stretching as far as your eye can see. This is the perfect time to get to grips with some soft Hindu culture.
5 January – 28 February 2013 | Harbin
The Harbin International Ice Festival is one of the coolest festivals in Asia. At the heart of the attraction is some premium ice sculpture artworks. Expect the unexpected, and you’ll be ripe for exploring Harbin’s extraordinary festival, which showcases beautifully lit ice lanterns from many of the world’s leading artists.
27 January 2013 | Malaysia
This Hindu festival is one to observe from the sidelines, and not for the squeamish! While it’s celebrated throughout Hindustan, one of the most famous locations to get your Thaipusam fix is at the Batu Caves outside of Kuala Lumpur, where as many as 850,000 pilgrims converge for this religious spectacle. The headline penance, is that of devotees carrying various burdens, or skewering various parts of their torsos.
Thaipusam: not for the faint hearted. | Photo by digitalpimp
15 February 2013 | India
Kites are seen flittering above many of Asia’s most stout skylines throughout the year, but the special Kite Festival known as Basant releases millions of kites into the evening skies. But these are no ordinary kites: they’re fighter kites. With kite strings laced with cut glass, the objective is beautifully simple: the last kite in the sky, wins.
24 February 2013 | Taiwan
Asia isn’t short of a lantern or two, or even a lantern festival. It’s the traditional finale to the Chinese New Year and can be celebrated right around China and Southeast Asia (or in a Chinatown near you). Head down to Taiwan for one of the best shows on the continent, or look towards Hangzhou and Shanghai.
Light up your life, at Taiwan's Lantern Festival! | Photo by vixyao
27 March 2013 | India
Holi, shmoli — this is exactly the type of festival that gives you an excuse to paint the town red. And blue. And purple. And orange. That’s right, India’s Hindu population throw one of the world’s most colourful events; Holi Festival is an excuse to plaster everyone (and everything) with brightly coloured powders.
Full Moon Party
Monthly | Thailand
You’ve heard the stories. You’ve seen the photos. You’ve got to experience this for yourself. Koh Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Parties have divided the opinion of the travel community for years — and will continue to do so — but at the heart of proceedings is a festival of unlimited experiences. The next one rises on 6 April.