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Myanmar Festivals

Myanmar (Burma) celebrates many festivals each year. Since it is a Buddhist country, many traditional festivals are related to Buddhism. The Pagoda Festival is representative of such religious festivals. Most festivals take place on important dates in the Burmese lunar calendar.

Myanmar Festival Calendar 2017

 Month

Starting

Closing

Festival

Place

date

date

January

28-Dec-16

12-Jan-17

Ananda Temple

Bagan

February

1-Feb-17

11-Apr-17

Shwesattaw Pagoda (Footprints of Buddha)

Minbu, Magwe Division

10-Feb-17

11-Feb-17

Mahamuni Pagoda

Mandalay

26-Feb-17

12-Mar-17

Mawtinsun Pagoda

Cape Negaris, Pathein

March

5-Mar-17

12-Mar-17

Inndawgyi Pagoda

Myitkyina

6-Mar-17

13-Mar-17

Kakku Pagoda

Taungyi, Shan State

12-Mar-17

12-Mar-17

Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Throughout Myanmar

12-Mar-17

12-Mar-17

Shwedagon Pagoda

Yangon

April

6-Apr-17

13-Apr-17

Shwemawdaw Pagoda

Bago

13-Apr-17

16-Apr-17

Water Festival

Throughout Myanmar

17-Apr-17

17-Apr-17

Myanmar New Year

Throughout Myanmar

May

10-May-17

10-May-17

Full Moon Day of Kasone

Throughout Myanmar

16-May-17

9-Jun-17

Wicker Ball Ceremony, Mahamuni Pagoda

Mandalay

June

2-Jun-17

9-Jun-17

Thi-Ho-Shin Pagoda

Pakokku

August

15-Aug-17

15-Aug-17

Full Moon Day of Waso

Throughout Myanmar

30-Aug-17

6-Sep-17

Taung Byone (Spirit Festival)

Near Mandalay

September

14-Sep-17

20-Sep-17

Yadanagu (Spirit Festival)

Amarapura, near Mandalay

October

23-Oct-17

7-Nov-17

Phaung Daw Oo

Inle Lake

30-Oct-17

6-Nov-17

Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda

Mandalay

November

3-Nov-17

4-Nov-17

Dummy Elephant

Kyaukse

4-Nov-17

4-Nov-17

Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (Light Festival)

Throughout Myanmar

26-Nov-17

3-Dec-17

Shwezigon Pagoda

Bagan

27-Nov-17

4-Dec-17

Hot Air Balloon

Taungyi, Shan State

December

1-Dec-17

3-Dec-17

Thandodday Pagoda

Monywa

2-Dec-17

2-Dec-17

Yellow Robe Weaving Contest

Throughout Myanmar

2-Dec-17

2-Dec-17

9000 candle light festival

Golden Rock

3-Dec-17

3-Dec-17

Full Moon Day of Tasaungmon (Light Festival)

Throughout Myanmar

3-Dec-17

3-Dec-17

Kaung Mu Daw Pagoda

Sagaing

25-Dec-17

1-Jan-18

Spectacled Buddha Image

Shwe Taung, Near Pyay

25-Dec-17

25-Dec-17

Christmas

Throughout Myanmar

26-Dec-17

2-Jan-18

San Daw Shin Pagoda

Near Sittway

The Most Important Festivals in Myanmar

Water Festival (Thingyan Festival)

The well-known Water Festival or Water Splashing Festival is the celebration of the New Year in Southeast Asian countries, such as Myanmar, Thailand and Laos. It is a Buddhist festival originating in India. The festival dates follow the lunar calendar, but it usually begins around mid-April of the western calendar.

In Burmese, “splashing water” implies “transition”, and refers to the transition between one year and the next. So during the festival, no matter who you are or what you do, splashing water on each other means washing away the dirt, trouble and bad luck of the past year and praying for good luck and best wishes for the new year.

Before the festival in Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw and other big cities, the government will set up a large water stage in the main streets, near a lake, and prepare for this big water carnival. During the festival, local art groups, dancers and singers are invited to liven things up.

Beware: Do not bring valuables, especially electronic products, with you during the festival, otherwise they will be soaked. If you want to record this exciting experience on camera, remember to save your camera or phone in a waterproof bag.

Myanmar New Year

Myanmar New Year falls on the day after the end of the Water Festival. So after the water carnival, you can enjoy a different perspective on Myanmar.

If you are still immersed in the exciting atmosphere of the Water Festival, you should calm down on the first day of the New Year, like the people of Myanmar themselves. Do some good deeds, and pray for the good luck for your relatives, friends and yourselves in the coming year.

On this day, locals visit their elders and pay obeisance with a traditional offering of shampoo, and water in a terracotta pot. They attend almsgiving and donate food at different places. They also release birds or fish into the river or lake along with their prayers. Besides these religious activities, during New Year you can also enjoy great performances and taste delicious food.

Beware: New Year's Day is in April, and this is the hottest time of year in Myanmar. So when you participate in these festivals, remember to take steps to protect your skin. April is also the peak season for tourism in Myanmar, domestic air tickets are often sold out, traffic is very busy, and hotel demand exceeds supply; so if you want to experience the atmosphere of these festivals, remember to plan your trip well in advance.

Major Pagoda Festivals

Ananda Temple Festival

This festival is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Bagan. It takes place in the month of Pyahto (December or January) every year, and lasts for one week. During the festival, 1,000 monks perform continuous chanting of scriptures for 72 hours.

The villagers around Bagan come to the festival in bullock carts and pitch camp for the whole duration of the festival. During the festival, you can enjoy traditional dancing, singing, and stand-up comedy. All kinds of stalls will dazzle you.

On the morning of the Full Moon Day, the monks make their way between donors lined up on both sides, and pilgrims reverently place their donations in the monks’ hands.

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

This begins on the full moon day of the month of Thabodwe (usually in February) and usually lasts for 2 days. During the festival, monks recite from the scriptures, thousands of people from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni Pagoda, and entertainment like dancing, singing and theatre can be enjoyed.

Shwezigon Pagoda Festival

This is held on the full moon day of Thadingyut (usually in November) and lasts for 15 days. During the festival, not only will alms be given to monks but there will also be celebrations with magic shows, puppet shows, theatrical shows, food stalls and shops selling local products.

Other Interesting Festivals

Hot Air Balloon Festival

This festival is held every year in Taunggyi, Shan State. It is like a carnival, with daytime parades and evening ballooning and pyrotechnic displays, drawing locals from the surrounding area and a trickle of foreign travelers. If you want to experience a true Burma-style festival, you shouldn’t miss this

Full Moon Day of Thadingyut (Light Festival)

This is the second most-popular festival in Myanmar after the Thingyan Festival (New Year Water Festival). It is held to celebrate the Buddha’s descent back to the mortal world from heaven after he preached the Abidhama (the most difficult of Buddhist teachings) to his mother, reborn in heaven.

During the festival, people from all over the country light candles to welcome the Buddha back. The festival atmosphere in small towns is much more enjoyable than in the cities. Dancing groups, music troupes, stalls and spectators crowd the streets.

You’ll have an opportunity to taste traditional Burmese food. The decorations and entertainment are paid for by Buddhist donations. Such donations are also used for charity purposes.

Young people and children carry candles and gifts to do obeisance and pay respect to their elders. They pay homage to elders and ask for forgiveness if they have committed any wrongdoings. In return the elders give them love, forgiveness and some pocket money.

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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