Myanmar Festivals

There is a saying that Myanmar celebrates a festival a month. Fortunately for the unsuspecting tourist there are even more, spread across the whole country throughout the year. This affords the visitor a wonderful first hand opportunity to gain a real insight into the living ancient culture of Myanmar. The exact dates of the festivals are according to the Myanmar Luna Calendar so only approximate months are given. Pagoda festivals are like country fairs and Nat ceremonies are accompanied by a lot of music, dancing and feasting.

January

• Ananda Temple festival, Bagan, one of the biggest festivals in the country, begins seven days before the full Moon day of Pyatho moon month.
• Kachin Manao Festival
• Naga nationalities’ New Year Festival and it requires booking weeks ahead as it is held in very remote villages, usually a few days before 15th January.

February

• Shwesettaw Pagoda festival, on the banks of Mann Chaung, Magway Division. Season starts 5th Waxing Moon Day of Tabodwe and ends only after Myanmar New Year in April.
• KyaikKhaut Pagoda festival, Thanlyin just half an hour drive from Yangon, begins seven days before the Full Moon Day of Tabodwe.

March

• Kekku Pagoda festival at the very beautiful pagoda complex deep in the Shan hills. Three or four days before the Full Moon Day of Tabaung, Pa O nationals in the region gather by the thousands to pay homage to the shrines they hold most holy.
• Maw Tin Zun Pagoda festival, on the Southwest beach of Myanmar and part of the route is by a pleasant boat ride to Pathein, an interesting delta town where they make pretty parasols. Begins seven days before the Full Moon of Tabaung.

April

• Shwemawdaw Pagoda festival, Bago, 8th Waxing Moon Day of Tagu.
• 5 days of water festival preceding the New Year which usually falls on 17th April. All over the country, sidewalk platforms are built from which young people hose down passing open cars with revelers. People in the streets carry water guns or buckets to douse anyone seen on the street.

May

• TaungYo Torchlight Procession Festival (Pindaya, Shan State)
• Shitthaung Pagoda Festival (Mrauk U, Rakhine State)

June-July

• Robe offering ceremonies, notification ceremonies and other religious rituals take place from April to the beginning of Lent which is the Full Moon Day of Waso, in June.

August

• Taung Pyone Nat festival, near Mandalay. Begins on the 8th Waxing Moon Day of Wagaung and lasts a week. This is the biggest Spirit festival in the country with mediums and devotees coming from all over the country to take part.

September

• YadanaGu Nat festival which carries on when the Taung Pyone festival ends. This takes place on the banks of Taungthaman Lake, Amarapura, which is also close to Mandalay.

October

• Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival, Inle Lake, Shan State. 1st Waxing Moon Day of Thadingyut. The festivities of carrying the images around on a barge to villages on the lake last 18 days.
• Shwezigon Pagoda festival, Bagan. Begins on the 1st Waxing Moon Day of Thadingyut. Of special interest is the Full Moon Day’s ritual of offering a filled alms bowl to hundreds of monks and novices.
• Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda of Mandalay, a four-day festival ending on the day after the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut.
• Lights festival symbolizing the end of Lent lasting three days, from a day ahead to the day after the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut. Celebrated all over the country.
• Dancing Elephants festival, where manned cloth elephants compete in dance competitions, Kyaukse, near Mandalay. A 2-day festival beginning a day before the Full moon Day of Thadingyut.

November

• Fire Balloon Competition, Taunggyi, Shan State. Six day festival begins on the 10thWaxing Moon Day of Tazaungmone. Balloons are judged for size, style, design and their ability to stay aloft for longer periods. On the noght of the Full Moon, Taunggyi locals hold a parade carrying lanterns.
• Yellow Robe Weaving Contest (Shwedagon, ShwebonPwint, Kyaikkasan, Botathaung Pagoda)

December

• 31st December night is celebrated at the Golden Rock Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda with devotees lighting thousands of candles at the shrine.