11 festivals in Asia That Should Be on Your Travel Bucket List

There is no shortage of festivals in Asia to learn more about the continent’s rich cultural and religious traditions. From India’s colourful Holi festival to the bright display at Loi Krathong, here are some of the culture festivals in Asia that are worth checking out. To witness these events first hand, and even participate in some, discover all that Trafalgar has to offer in Asia.

1. Holi

A woman covered in powered paint dancing outside at Holi festival.

One of the most popular festivals in Asia is Holi. Holi typically falls in March, on the Hindu calendar’s full moon. Known as the “festival of colour”, “festival of spring” and “festival of love”, Holi is an ancient Hindu event that takes place across India celebrating the start of spring.

Holi also signifies the importance of good over evil and it’s a time to end disputes with others. People gather around bonfires and perform religious rituals and pray to ward off evil. The following day, people meet in the streets to throw colourful powder at each other.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Colourful India

2. Loi Krathong

Paper lanterns in the sky for Loi Kratong.

Loi Krathong, takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar. During Loi Krathong, people decorate baskets, fill them with candles and float them along rivers. People also light up the sky with lanterns, colourful lights on houses and firework displays. It’s a bright and lively event that’s not to be missed!

Loi Krathong takes place across Thailand, but the event also takes place in countries including Myanmar, Sri Lanka, China and Cambodia under a different name.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Treasures of Thailand

3. Dragon Boat Festival

In China, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar calendar, usually falling in June. The tradition is said to have originated in ancient China and commemorates the life and death of famous Chinese scholar, Qu Yuan. On this day, people eat rice dumplings, drink realgar wine (which is believed to ward off evil spirits) and, of course, race dragon boats.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Classic China

4. Diwali

A hand lighting candles for Diwali

One of the largest festivals in Asia is Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights”. Observed by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world, it commemorates the triumph of good over evil. People celebrate by lighting candles, setting off fireworks and eating sweet treats with family.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Colourful India with Nepal – Celebrate Diwali

RELATED CONTENT: What is Diwali, and how is it celebrated?

5. Songkran

People with buckets of water celebrating Songkran

Songkran is the celebration of the New Year in Thailand, observed on the 13th of April. How do people ring in Songkran? With a giant water fight! People take to the streets with buckets of water and dump them on each other. It’s meant to signify washing away the previous year and starting the new year refreshed.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Thailand and the Temples of Angkor

6. Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival

If you’re looking to attend a music festival in Asia, look no further than Java Jazz Festival. It’s one of the biggest jazz festivals in the world that brings in top musical acts and celebrates Indonesia’s incredible music scene.

RELATED CONTENT: 7 unmissable music festivals in Africa everyone should experience at least once

7. Gion Matsuri

In Kyoto, the Gion Festival takes place each year during the month of July. The event is celebrated with various festivities, the biggest of which is a big parade. It is custom to find food stalls selling Japanese desserts and women dressed in yukata, meaning summer kimono, and carrying paper fans.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Classic Japan

8. Chinese New Year

A dragon and lanterns in China to signify Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, celebrates the beginning of the new year in the Chinese Lunar calendar. It’s one of the biggest and most important holidays in China and is celebrated all over the world.

Chinese New Year takes place over sixteen days, with customs including cleaning the house, giving red envelopes filled with money to children, lighting lanterns, setting off fireworks and spending time with family and friends.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Hong Kong and Macau Experience

9. Tet Nguyen Dan

Tet is Vietnamese New Year and means “The Feast of the First Morning of the First Day”. It’s a popular holiday to gather with friends and family and enjoy a feast of special foods like sticky rice cakes. Similar to Chinese New Year, people clean their homes for Tet and give children red envelopes filled with money.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF: Highlights of Vietnam

10. Eid

Eid marks the end of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset for a month. It’s a religious holiday that’s observed with prayer and a meal with family and friends all over the world, including many parts of Asia.

11. Nyepi

On March 9th in Bali, the country takes part in the annual Day of Silence called Nyepi. It’s a public holiday and tradition that’s unique to the Hindu culture of Bali where people participate in fasting, meditation and silence.

RELATED CONTENT: Why everyone needs a bucket list trip Asia at least once in their lives

Have you been to any festivals in Asia? Let us know in the comments.

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