Myanmar is renowned for the Burmese people’s festive spirit, and each year, there are festivals that happen all across the country. Below is a list of festivals that you should not miss as you plan your trip to Myanmar. One thing to note is that most festivals happen according to the Burmese calendar, so the dates of the festivals may vary each year. We recommend checking the dates before you travel.
Thingyan Water and New Year Festival
Thingyan Water and New Year festival consists of five days of celebration every April. Thingyan is Myanmar’s most popular festival and includes song and dance at decorated pavilions across the country. Pouring water over one another is also customary, as it is believed to cleanse the heart and physical being of the past year’s negativity. Celebrators also make offerings to the gods and pay their respects to loved ones to represent the start of a new year.
Hot Air Balloon Festival
The Hot Air Balloon Festival is an annual celebration held during three days every November in Taunggyi, in southern Shan State. Arguably the most stunning event of the year, this festival invites thousands of tourists and pilgrims to revel in the amateur and expert balloon competitions and stare up at the brilliant paper balloons floating up into the dark sky.
Kachin Manaw Festival
Manaw Festival is usually held in Kachin State and is held every year in January to welcome the New Year. During the festival, you will see Manaw poles that are long, artistically designed, and erected at the centre of the festival area. Kachin people usually dance around these poles as a way to celebrate the New Year, the reunion of tribes, and the victories in battle. You can see beautiful Kachin people in their traditional costumes, and you may also participate in the dance with them during the festival.]
Taungbyone Nat Festival
Although the majority of Burmese people believe in Buddhism, there is still a significant population that believes in Nats. Nats are said to be terrestrial spirits that influence human activity. Taungbyone Nat Festival is held in celebration of these spirits and is usually held around July and August. You will see people drinking and dancing during this lively festival. Nat believers offer beer, fried chicken, and money to the Nat Gadaws, who are like shamans that embody the spirits and act as their vessel. Nat Gadaws perform and dance in different costumes depending on the spirit they embody.
The Salone Festival celebrates the Salone people that live in the Mergui Archipelago. Known as an isolated group, many Salone live in boats during the dry season and uphold traditions by continuing the same fishing practices used by generations before them. This February celebration promotes tourism with respect to the Salone people and the Mergui Archipelago in southern Myanmar, and visitors can observe spiritual dances, folk singing and traditional Salone feasts.