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Entertainment in Myanmar - Traditional Dance and Theatre

Entertainment in Myanmar - Traditional Dance and Theatre

By Wendy Updated Sep. 12, 2023

There are a handful of venues in Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan that showcase exceptional performances. These shows are an enjoyable yet educational way to gain more appreciation for Burmese culture.

Traditional performances are available all-year round, though the festivals are only held at certain times of the year.

At Asia Highlights, we try to make your trip more than just sightseeing. We promote appreciation and understanding of local culture and traditions, while at the same time making sure you have an enjoyable time.

So, along with sightseeing in Myanmar's exotic temples, we can also arrange for you to attend traditional dance and music performances, or traditional puppet shows, or we can take you to participate in Myanmar's various festivals.

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Traditional Dance and Music Performances

While Burmese performing arts are not as well known internationally as those of neighboring Thailand, Myanmar does still have exquisite forms of performing arts for you to see and enjoy. You will notice that their traditional music and dance are more closely related to Indian and Thai style than to Chinese style.

For a detailed description of Myanmar's performing arts, click here (link to article on Performing Arts in Myanmar).

One of the best places to enjoy performances is Karaweik Palace, a majestic golden palace on the eastern shore of Kandawgyi Lake, in the heart of Yangon city. Every evening high-quality dance and music performances are presented along with international buffet.

The shows consist of a wide variety of Burmese dance and music, including the traditional Burmese orchestra called hsaing waing. The spectacular lights, costumes, and performances, will give you a taste of Myanmar's culture back in the period of the dynasties.

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Puppet Theatre

String puppetry, called "yoke thé" in Burmese, is one of the most popular forms of Burmese performing art. While originating with the Burmese royalty, it was gradually adapted for wider consumption. The colorful marionettes recreate snippets of traditional tales.

The show is accompanied by a lively hsaing waing as well as a saung, a traditional boat-shaped harp. The performance generally lasts about an hour and is divided into several short segments.

You will find the show to be a delightful performance overflowing with fun and positive energy. The puppeteers are proud of their culture and enjoy sharing this traditional form of Burmese art with international visitors.

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When visiting Myanmar, it is highly recommended that you arrange your visit during one of the national cultural festivals. Most Burmese festivals follow the lunar calendar, so dates may change from year to year.

One of the most popular festivals is the Myanmar Water Festival (also called Thingyan New Year Water Festival), which takes place in mid-April, towards the end of the hot season.

During the festival, people splash water on each other on the streets. The most festive atmosphere can be felt in Yangon and Mandalay, though it's also celebrated in other parts of the country.

The idea behind spraying each other with water is to wash off the previous year's sins and bad luck, and enter the New Year with a clean slate.

Another festival worth seeing is the Thadigyut Lights Festival in Yangon, which is held from 14th May to 16th May. This is a Buddhist festival to celebrate the story of Buddha descending into the mortal world. During this time, streets and buildings are lit up with colored electric bulbs and candles.

There are many other festivals, some celebrated nationwide, some specific to a locality, that you can explore, depending on the time of your travels in Myanmar. For more information about festivals, click here (link to article on Myanmar's Festivals).

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See for Yourself!

At Asia Highlights, we work with local knowledgeable guides to make our clients' experiences more than just entertaining but also meaningful and memorable. Join us on this adventure and gain an appreciation of local culture whilst having a good time with family and friends.

Visit Myanmar with Asia Highlights

We provide tailor-made tours to Myanmar. Tours typically start or end in Yangon or Mandalay and last approximately 9 days; visiting Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.

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