Myanmar Inle Lake Festival Phaung Daw Oo Precession Boat

Myanmar Festivals 2016 Calendar


Festivals are an absolute highlight of travel in Myanmar, a country that is often referred to as the "Land of Festivals" due to the numerous celebrations that take place all year round. Festivals may closely intertwined with Buddhism, but they may also be celebrations by the country's over 150 ethnic hilltribes—remote events are a vivid glimpse into traditional cultures unlike anywhere else in Asia.

 

The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda's Festival in Inle Lake is the country's largest, celebrated over nearly three weeks on sublime Inle Lake during October and November. The festival has been a feature of our Myanmar Photography trips for several years. Below is a schedule of other festivals by date and region. Some festivals are convenient for travelers, taking place in Yangon, Bagan, and Inle Lake, for example, while others, such as the Naga festival, require travel to remote areas of the country. Please contact us for more specific information on festivals and how we can arrange for them to be part of your travel in the country. 

 

Note: Hotels, cruise ships (Belmond's Road to Mandalay and Orcaella), and domestic flights can fill up to a year in advance of the festival season and planning is prudent secure the finer hotels.

2016 Myanmar Festival Calendar

Festivals by month (dates may be approximate and most change each year)

January Festivals

January 5 - 11 Mano Festival Myikyina - Kachin State
January 8 - 17 Ananda Pagoda Bagan
January 12 - 16 Naga New Year Festival Lahe/Lashi, Sagaing Division
January 25 - February 2 Kayik Khauk Pagoda Festival Thanlyin, Yangon
January 31 - February 1 Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Mandalay

 

February Festivals

February 16- March 2 Maw Tin Zun Pagoda Festival Near Pathein
February 18 - 25 Pakhan Ko Gyi Kyaw Festival Pakhan, Yezagyo
February 24 - March 3 Pyi Daw Pyan Festival Zalun, Ayeyarwaddy Division
February 24 - March 3 Kekku Pagoda Festival Near Taunggyi
February 25 - March 1 Bawgyo Pagoda Festival Hsipaw-Shan State
February 25 - March 1 Pindaya Cave Festival Pindaya

 

March Festivals

March 1 - 5 Shwedagon Pagoda Festival Yangon
March 3 - 10 Shwesayan Pagoda Festival Pathein-gyi, Mandalay
March 11 - 15 Boe-Boe-Gyi Ceremony Al-Lone, Monywa
March 25 - April 6 Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival Bago
March 30 - April 3 Ko Kyi Kyaw Gu-Ni Ceremony Magwe

 

April Festivals

April 14 Popa Ceremony (Nat Festival) Mt Popa, Near Bagan
April 13 - 16 Thingyan Festival Countrywide
April 17 Myanmar New Year Countrywide
April 7-9 U Shin Gyi Ceremony Salt Island & Bown Island, Bogalay
April 29 Shwe Ket Yet Pagoda Amarapura - Mandalay
April 30 - May 7 Shitt-Thaung Pagoda Festival Mrauk U

 

May Festivals

May 23-June 7 Thihoshin Pagoda Fesival Pakokku
May 31 - June 30 Wicker Ball Ceremony - chinlone At Mahamuni Precinct, Mandalay

 

June—no major festivals)

July Festivals

July 19 Martyr's Day Yangon
July 28 - 29 Shinbin Sagyo Pagoda Festival Sale - Magwe

 

August Festivals

August 14 -16 Shwe Kyun Bin Tree Spirit Ceremony Mingun-Mandalay
August 23 - 28 Taung Pyone Nat Festival Taung Pyone, Mandalay Division

 

September Festivals

September 7 - 11 Yadana Gu Nat Festival Amarapura, Mandalay
September 28 Boe-Min-Gaung Memorial Day Mt. Popa, Near Bagan

 

October Festivals

October 2-19 Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival Inle Lake, Shan State
October 9-16 Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda Festival Mandalay
October 15-16 Thadingyut, Festival of Lights Throughout Myanmar
October 23 & 24 Food offering ceremonies Indein - Inle Lake
October 24 - Nov 12 Mya Tha Lun Pagoda Festival Magwe
October 25 - 26 Dancing Elephant Festival Kyaukse, Mandalay
October 26 Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival Kyaikhtiyo

 

November Festivals

November 16 - Dec 8 Shwezigon Pagoda Festival Bagan
November 20 - 26 Hot Air Balloon Festival Taunggyi
November 23 Tazaungmon Festival Countrywide
November 23 - 25 Pho-Win Taung Ceremony Pho-Win Taung -Monywa
November 24 - 29 Kaunghmudaw Pagoda Festival Sagaing, Mandalay

 

December Festivals

December 17 - 24 Shwemyetman Pagoda Festival Shwetaung (Near Pyay)
December 12 - 17 Sandaw-Shin Pagoda Festival West Pha-yan-ga Island, Rakhine
December 23 - 24 Mount Popa Nat Festival Popa Mountain
     
Recommended Event    


Recommended Myanmar Festivals in Detail

   

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival (Yangon—March)

This five-day festival leading up to the full moon is most convenient if your trip to Myanmar is in late February to early March. During the festival, weavers compete to loom the most cloth for monks. Visitors come from all over the country to make offerings during the festival at the country's most sacred pagoda.

   

The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda's Festival (Inle Lake—October/November)


The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda's Festival in Inle Lake is the country's largest, celebrated over nearly three weeks on sublime Inle Lake during October and November. The festival has been a feature of our Myanmar Photography trips for several years.

   

Taunggyi Hot Air (Fire) Balloon (Tazaungdaing) Festival (Inle Lake/Taunggyi—November)


This popular, well-attended festival hosted by the Pa-O tribal community is famous for the releasing of gigantic hot air balloons into the air. The event takes place during the October/November near Inle Lake in the regional capital Taunggyi during the new moon on the 8th month of the Buddhist Taunggyi Hot Air (Fire) Balloon, Myanmarcalendar and is celebrated as a national holiday in the country, marking the end of the rainy season. It also marks the end of the Kathina (Kahtein in Burmese) period, during which monks are given new robes and alms.

At the festival, the fiery and colorful balloons which can come in various shapes such as birds, tigers, and some are big as a house are prepared and launched into the night sky. The balloons are released as an offering to the Sulamani Cetiya in Tavitisma, a heaven in Buddhist cosmology and home of the devas, or as a way to drive away evil spirits. However, the origins of the balloons launching tradition dates back only recently to 1894, when the British held the first hot air balloon competitions in Taunggyi, capital of the Shan State, soon after the annexing Upper Burma. There are also parades, carnival games, concerts, feasts, and massive fireworks with the last two days being the most interesting. Villagers from around the region congregate for this important festival and we have arranged travelers to attend the festival in Taunggyi for many years.

View a video of the festival below by photographer Richard Curtis.

 

   

Thadingyut Festival of Lights (countrywide—September/October)

Monk at the Thadingyut Festival of Lights in Myanmar

Myanmar's second most popular national festival, after Thingyan, celebrates the end of the Buddhist lent, the three-month Buddhist period time, during which all monks and novices must remain in their temples and typically marks the end of the rainy season.

The 3-day event is held on the full moon day of the Burmese Lunar month of Thadingyut in September/October. The event takes place at pagodas all over the country but is most spectacular in Yangon and Inle Lake. Feasting and performances compliment the lighting of lanterns and candles.

   

Tazaungmon Festival (countrywide—November)


A one day full moon festival during the eighth month of the lunar calendar falls within the month of November. The celebration is marked by monk's robe weaving competitions and parades, and lighting of candles set adrift on waterways.

   

Kachin New Year Festival (Myitkyina & Putao—March)


Kachin is location of the delightful Manaw festival. Kachin, the hill people or the "Scots of Myanmar," celebrate this most popular March event, a celebration of the new year, victories in battle, and the reunion of the tribes. Events include line dancing around traditional poles (similar to totem poles of North American Indians). Colorful tribal costumes are on full display. Manaw festival is held in Myitkyina and Putao in Kachine State. It's also an ideal time and location to visit the Himalayan foothills around Putao, for light hiking and clear views of the mountains.

   

Ananda Pagoda (Bagan—January)


This is a convenient and popular festival in Bagan during January. Celebrated during the first full moon, evening entertainment includes traditional zats (a variety of dance, song, short and long plays) and anyeints (a performance of jokers and jesters who caricature current social and politicial topics). The festival also hosts a large flea market where all kinds of goods, some of them are locally produced, are sold. The most popular event at the festival is the parade of bullock carts into the pagoda compound. It is most popular around the peak full moon day the second week in January.

   

Naga New Year Festival (Sagaing—January)


Naga Festival Myanmar

High up on the mountains of remote Northwest Myanmar are the Naga, one of the over one hundred and fifty different ethnnic tribes in Myanmar.

During this 5-day New Year celebration, cups of rice wine are toasted and emptied as bison and wild boar meat are roasted. Powerful tribal dances are performed to the loud beating of drums (right). Visitors are not only welcome but to join in as honored guests as is the traditional custom of the Naga. This festival is as off the grid as you can get, with overnight in traditional tents or hut.

   

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival (Golden Rock—October)


The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival is a special festival of lights celebration taking placce on the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut when locals proceed with the lighting of 9,000 candles and 9,000 flower offerings to the Buddha. On the next morning, rice, sweets and other snacks are offered. The platform and passage of the pagoda are usually filled with visitors from all over the country. A visit to the Golden Rock and pagoda are part of this side trip. Thadingyut usually falls in October, depending on the lunar calendar when the weather can be cooler up on the mountain.

   

Floating Light Festival (Shwe Kyin, Bago—October)


Similar to fire kites of the Loi Kratong festival in Thailand, lights, usually candles are released onto water as a ritual for bringing good luck, a picturesque sight to view the floating candles float away. The day long festival features boat racing. traditional dances and songs performed from boats on the Shwe Kyin River. In the evening, fireworks light up the sky over the river. In Located in the small town of Shwe Kyin north of Bago, an ideal festival to combine with the Belmond Orcaella cruise.

   

 

Thingyan Water Festival (New Years—April)


Thingyan festival dancing girl Myanmar

Southeast Asia's most raucous festival, as in Thailand and Cambodia, Thingyan celebrates the end of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. The festival, which has traditional roots as a cleansing celebration, takes place annually in mid-April. when locals take to the streets dousing each other with water as they welcome in the Buddhist new year with a fresh beginning. Mostly younger people eagerly participate in water throwing by buckets, water guns, hoses or any method possible.

It's an especially boisterous time in Yangon and Mandalay, where the celebration has become virtually unrecognizable from its past traditions. In these places, cars and trucks full of young people, playfully throw water onto each other, the backdrop of water and celebration primarily serving to facilitate courtships. Indeed, ask any young Burmese when they met their partner and the answer is likely to be Thingyan. During your trip, however, we'll plan celebrate the annual festivities in small villages where the festival is more subdued and traditionally expressed.

Ready to plan your Myanmar festival trip? Submit a contact form below, or call us:

San Francisco at (415) 731-4377, or in Hanoi contact us at (84-4) 3562-6665