MYANMAR NEW YEAR: Burmese visit their elderly to pay respect, and visit the temples. A religious tradition is to release caged birds or fish into lakes and rivers to gain merit. The accompanying Thingyan Water Festival is great to watch. 18 APRIL 2018 HAMAMATSU FESTIVAL, JAPAN: For over 440 years, the Japanese have fiercely wielded their kites in kite fights at this festival. Fliers attempt to cut their opponent’s 5mm hemp string by using their own kite string to create enough friction to break the line. The last kite still flying is the winner as it soars through the leftover smoke created by the friction. 3 TO 5 MAY 2018 VESAK DAY: Buddhists bring offerings of flowers, candles and joss sticks to the temples where elaborate rituals are held to commemorate the birth, the Nirvana (enlightenment), and the Parinirvana (death) of Gautama Buddha. This is the most significant day of the Buddhist calendar. Dates differ due to variations in lunar calendars. 29 MAY 2018

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Traditional Chinese decorations and lights abound. Families have a reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve and visit relatives over the next 15 days. Many businesses close for the whole week. 16 TO 17 FEBRUARY 2018 JAKARTA INTERNATIONAL JAVA JAZZ FESTIVAL: First held in 2005, this festival attracts over 100,000 visitors a year. International performers in 2017 included Grammy winners Sergio Mendes, Chick Corea and Arturo Sandoval. Arguably the biggest jazz festival in the Southern Hemisphere. 2 TO 4 MARCH 2018 SAKURA (CHERRY BLOSSOM) SEASON, JAPAN: Not really a festival, but a spectacular event nonetheless. The blossoming begins in Okinawa in January and reaches Kyoto and Tokyo late March to early April. When the blossoms are at their peak, the Japanese turn out in large numbers at parks, shrines and temples to picnic, relax and admire the flowers. LATE MARCH TO EARLY APRIL 2018 CHING MING FESTIVAL: Also known as Tomb Sweeping Day or Mourning Day, when Chinese families visit their ancestors’ graves to offer incense and flowers. 5 APRIL 2018

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL, THAILAND: The Thai New Year often attracts droves of tourists and locals, where people splash water on one another as a blessing. 13 TO 15 APRIL 2018 LAO NEW YEAR: Laotians shower one another with water and white powder as blessings, and pray at temples. Fun to watch, though it is the hottest time of the year. 14 TO 16 APRIL 2018 CHAUL CHNAM THMEY, CAMBODIA: Cambodian New Year involves dressing up, visiting temples and cooking feasts with family. Celebrations last three to four days; the Angkor temples will be packed. 14 TO 16 APRIL 2018 NYEPI, BALI, INDONESIA: The evening before Nyepi (Balinese New Year and “Day of Silence”), loud street processions are held to drive away evil spirits with gongs, drums and huge, papier-mâché “ ogoh-ogoh ” monsters. On New Year’s Day itself, Bali retreats into silence for 24 hours. No work. No travel. No cooking. No noise. Even the airport closes. Village wardens (Pecalang), there to enforce the rules, are the only people outdoors. The idea is that any demons and evils spirits will be deluded into thinking that Bali is deserted, prompting them to leave the island. 17 TO 18 APRIL 2018

Write in and tell us about any new festival discoveries you might have made on your travels!



Made with