Populated by devout Buddhists, many Myanmar holidays center around religion. Events not only take place in the capital of Yangon, but in regions all over of the country, such as Mandalay and Bagan. Visitors should check local listings so as not to miss out.
Taking place in January every year, the Manaw Festival is an important event for the Kachin to honor the gods, appeasing them to ensure a good harvest. Dressed in colorful traditional costumes, headgear and adorned with jewelry and beads, the festival includes many traditional sporting events such as tug-of-war, dancing and music.
This is one of the most important religious celebrations in Mandalay held annually in February. Lasting two days, visitors from all over Myanmar come to the Mahamuni Pagoda to pay their respects and hear the monks chant. In the evening, stalls selling food and souvenirs are set-up and traditional Zats (dance and song) can be seen.
Myanmar New Year
The New Year’s festivities also known Water Festival, is an important event that takes place in April. Similar to the Songkran festival in Thailand, the day involves a lot of water throwing, so be prepared to get wet. The water is thought to purify, making it a wonderful time to visit the temples to make offerings.
Thadingyut Light Festival
Taking place on the full moon in October (usually second or third week), the Thadingyut Light Festival is a beautiful Myanmar event. It involves three days of illumination with candles lit throughout the night. The festival pays respect to the elderly, where the young give gifts to older family members.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
The biggest annual festival at Inle Lake is the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival in October. The royal barges are floated on the lake, each carrying an important Buddha image. The highlight is the Shan boating race, especially to see the Shan's usual leg-rowing technique.
Elephant Dance Festival
Every year in October, men inside life-size paper mậché elephants try to perform the dance in Myanmar. The festival takes place in Kyaukse just south of Mandalay. Other competitions take place such as the best decorated elephant.
Hot Air Balloon Festival
Held annually in November, paper balloons of all sizes are made and fill with hot air to be launched into the night sky. They illuminate the horizon and are a wonderful photo opportunity. During the day, visitors can marvel at the beautifully decorated paper balloons made in all shapes, such as elephants, horses and more.
Tazaungdaing Fullmoon Festival
This important Buddhist festival which takes place in November every year is a time when locals donate robes, umbrellas and alms bowls to monks. Most residents participate in this religiously important day by spending the night at a temple.