At Asian festivals you can watch camels wrestle, bare back horseracing, ice sculpting, cherry blossoms, bargain for a camel or throw colored powders.
- Camel Wrestling Championship, Selcuk, Turkey
This hugely popular sport with championships held in January is more comedy than gory. Bull camels head butt and wrestle for precedence over a young cow that is paraded around to get them excited. The most entertaining moments come when one gives way and the conquering bull chases in pursuit while spectators scramble hurriedly out of the way.
- Nadaam, Mongolia
This annual event in July takes place in every inhabited center no matter what size, to celebrate the three manly sports of wrestling, archery and bareback horseback racing. Nadaam is held over three days and starts with traditional parades and dancing before the sports events begin. There is usually a market going and plenty of food, including some traditional staples.
- Ice Sculpting Festival, Harbin, China
If you lived in a climate that plummeted to 40 below zero during the winter and stayed below freezing half of the year, how would you celebrate? In Harbin they don’t believe in staying indoors, they would rather celebrate the cold than suffer from it. An annual festival of snow and ice sculptures and competitions is held from January to February with amazing scenes up to 165 feet wide including animals, flowers, bridges and houses that can be climbed, slid or explored.
- Cherry Blossoms, Japan
The cherry blossoms in Japan are legend and every year in March and April the nation congregates under their gorgeous blossoms for picnics with family and friends. For travelers it’s a great time to visit and appreciate the beauty of nature, the friendliness of locals and general goodwill.
- Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan, India
This is one of India’s biggest livestock fairs with thousands of people coming to buy and sell camels and horses adorned with ribbons and head dresses. The highlight of the fair is the camel racing that takes place amidst much singing and dancing. The nomads that converge on the town are very happy to meet tourists and you can arrange a camel ride with just about anyone you meet.
- Diwali, India
The colorful “Festival of Lights” is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists across the Indian subcontinent and around the globe. Lights or lamps are lit to signify the victory of good over the evil within every human being. Diwali celebrations are spread over six days in October involving firecrackers, puja’s, elaborate meals and general good will.
- Holi, Nepal
This Hindu festival held in late February or early March is celebrated in a spectacle of color. In fact the entire country, including unsuspecting tourists, gets drenched in the colored water and powders. On every street and corner people throw colors and water balloons at each other, hold bonfires and engage in merry making.
- Kite Festival, Lahore, Pakistan
As described in the famed novel “The Kite Runner” this festival, known as Basant in Pakistan, is a ritual for the spring festival. Thousands of kite enthusiasts gather for the five-day festival to celebrate the ancient tradition, which often takes the form of kite fighting, in which kite fighters try to snag each other’s kites or cut other kites down. Popular in other centers like India, Korea, China and Afghanistan, kite fighting is very popular in Lahore and people spend thousands of dollars preparing different types of kites and threads best suited to battle.
- Mooncake Festival, Kuala Lumpur
Apparently the Mongols were overthrown in China by a secret plot concealed inside mooncakes, which were distributed widely. They were finally defeated on the night of the Lantern or Mid-Autumn Festival and today Chinese communities around the world, including Malaysia, still celebrate with mooncakes - a thick-crusted pastry filled with lotus seed paste.
- Pingyao Red Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year
This rather ear splitting festival, involving a lot of fire crackers, marks the last day of the Chinese New Year which is celebrated all around the world. Pingyao is an ancient walled city that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fantastic location for a festival.