We love a good festival at Backyard Travel, which is fortunate because Asia is positively packed with vibrant parties and colorful celebrations! Here are some personal favorites from our expert Travel Specialists, one from each of the eight amazing countries we tailor luxury tours to:
Tet Nguyen – Vietnam (31 January 2014)
The joys and festivity of your New Year’s Eve may be fresh in your memory, but in China and Vietnam they are just winding up to celebrate the Lunar New Year. ‘Tết’ or ‘Tết Nguyên Đán’ (which translates to Feast of the First Morning of the First Day) is the biggest holiday in Vietnam and involves a whole heap of family traditions and customs, such as cleaning the graves of family members as well as spectacular firework displays. It truly is a wonderful time to be in Vietnam as the country is bursting with even more color and vibrancy than normal.
Sapporo Snow Festival – Japan (5-11 February 2014)
Sapporo has played host to one of the world’s biggest ice sculpture events every February since 1950 and from 5-11th February 2014, the carved blocks of snow and ice will attract more than 2 million visitors. The white works of art at the Sapporo Snow Festival are often breathtaking and have become more and more creative over the years, leading to a build-up of anticipation to see what the talented sculptors will come up with next! Click here to take a look at some of the examples from previous years to get an idea of what to expect.
Kissing Festival – Indonesia (1 April 2014)
Bali’s Omed-Omedan ‘Kissing Festival’ is certainly unique. In the quest for good health and positive fortune, teenage girls and boys pucker up for good luck as they are held high on the shoulders of their peers and perform quick kisses while being doused with buckets of water. Passed down through generations, the festival is unique to the small Indonesian island, making it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anyone visiting Bali around April. This amateur video offers a glimpse as to what to expect.
Rocket Festival – Laos (throughout May)
The Rocket Festival in Laos is a celebration that locals believe kick-starts the rainy season, bringing badly needed water to feed their arid fields for a good crop. Each village or region hosts their own festival with teams of designers masterminding elaborate rockets (bang fai) to see who can send their projectile the highest with the aim of awakening the rain god Phaya Thaen. The celebrations are joyous, and the whoosh (or sometimes stutter!) of the rockets is the highlight of several days of dancing, singing, eating and drinking. The award-winning fiction film ‘The Rocket’ is based around the festival and is one of our favorite movies made in Asia.
Songkran / Pii Mai / Thingyan / Chaul Chnam Thmey – SE Asia (April)
Known collectively in the West as ‘Water Festivals’, Songkran / Pii Mai / Thingyan / Chaul Chnam Thmey are all celebrated around Asia as New Year for Thailand, Laos and Myanmar respectively. Essentially, Asia temporarily becomes a giant playground where kids and adults get down to the serious business of soaking each other with water. We’ve written extensively about the festivals in previous blogs (read here to find out more), but couldn’t help but mention it here too. It’s THAT much fun.
Mid-Autumn Festival – China (8-11 September 2014)
One of the most delicious festivals going, the Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the ‘Mooncake Festival’) is a chance for Chinese families to join together for a reunion and admire the brightest full moon of the year. A full moon symbolizes peace, prosperity and family closeness in Chinese culture and is celebrated with a three-day festival allowing families to gather together and share delicious Moonkcakes under the night sky.
Loy Krathong – Thailand (TBC November)
Loy Krathong / Yii Peng is one of our favorite times of year in the Backyard Travel office, especially in Chiang Mai where floating (Khom Loy) lanterns are released into the sky during Yii Peng to create a stunning spectacle of floating jellyfish. Loy Krathong is also a gorgeous festival, with Thais making pilgrimages to nearby lakes and rivers to release floating ‘krathongs’ as offerings to the Goddess of Water for past indiscretions. The festivals are traditionally held on the full moon during November, but dates are finalized closer to the time. To read more about Loy Krathong click here.
Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival – Myanmar (6 November 2014)
Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival, otherwise known as the ‘Hot-air Balloon Festival’, is one of the biggest celebrations of the year in Myanmar. The festival revolves around giant animal-shaped balloons as locals band together in groups to see who can produce the most beautiful and elaborate balloon to the soundtrack of traditional music and fireworks. It’s a time for locals to enjoy themselves and the buzz that surrounds the festival uplifts young and old alike.
Water Festival – Cambodia (27–29 November 2014)
Not to be confused with New Year parties in April, Cambodia’s November Water Festival (Bon Om Touk) celebrates the reverse in flow of the Tonlé Sap River – a rather unique natural phenomenon. Throughout most of the year the Tonlé Sap empties into the Mekong, but during the rainy season the Mekong rises and forces the current from the Tonlé Sap in the opposite direction. In November, after the rainy season has ended, the Mekong drops once more, allowing the Tonlé Sap to once again flow normally. The festival involves floating parades, partying and colorful dragon boat races – a must-see if you’re thinking of traveling to Cambodia in November.
Our range of tour inspirations can be tailored to suit your desires. Simply browse our tour selection for your preferred destination and our expert Travel Specialists in each country will propose an original tour itinerary to suit your personal preferences. So, be sure to mention any of the above festivals if you’d like to include them in your luxury holiday!