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10 Asian festivals to see before you die

| Words by Ashley Diterlizzi |

Festivals are a fun part of life and in Asia they’re rich in cultural diversity, vibrant and enchanting. Here are the top ten Asian festivals you need to add to your bucket list.

Takayama autumn festival

1. Takayama Festival, Japan

Held in both spring and autumn, the Takayama Festival dates back to the 1600s. The festivities take place in old town of Takayama at the Hie Shrine in spring and at the Hachiman Shrine in autumn. The festival consists of floats and traditional puppet displays which travel through the town during the day and into the night. Immerse yourself in the festivities on one of our Secrets of Japan tours.

2. Jambay Lakhang Festival, Bhutan

The Jambay Lakhang festival is one of Bhutan’s most important, enlivening the region with vibrant colours. The festival is held across five days at Jambay Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in the country. Locals partake in ritualistic dances and activities.Experience the festival for yourself on our Highlights of Bhutan tour.

3. Diwali, India

India’s ‘Festival of Light’ brings people together to celebrate good conquering evil and light conquering dark. The exact dates of Diwali change each year but the festival is always held in autumn between mid-October and mid-November.

Naadam festival

4. Naadam Festival, Mongolia

The most important event on the Mongolian calendar, Naadam features competitions of horse racing, archery and wrestling which locals young and old take part in. The festival’s rural setting makes it easy for visitors to get up close to the action.

5. Dragon Boat Festival, China

A traditional holiday which originates in China, the annual Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. Celebrations prevent disease and evil and promote health and wellbeing. Watch the human-powered teak wooden boats by up to 80 rowers as they race across the water in colour.

6. What Phou Festival, Laos

Held in southern Laos in February, Champasak comes alive with loud traditional music and dancing, elephant and horse parades, processions of monks and local foods, crafts and sports. Tak Bak is the biggest day of the festival, attended by leaders across the country.


7. Taiwan Lantern Festival, Taiwan

The most renowned of all the lantern festivals across Asia is the Taiwan Lantern Festival, held in the Pingxi District. The event is held on the first full moon of the lunar year which falls between February and March. The highlight of the festival is when thousands of lanterns are released into the night sky.

8. Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

Experience the magic of snow and ice in Sapporo when giant sculptures adorn the city’s streets and parks. Explore the ski resorts from the 1972 Winter Olympics and experience the winter festival on our Japan Winter Discovery tour.

Pushkar festival

9. Pushkar Festival, India

One of the biggest camel and livestock fairs on Earth, the Pushkar festival is a montage of Rajasthani tradition. From camel races to a moustache competition, there’s plenty of colour at this festival. The event is held over five days in October or November each year. Experience the magic of the festival on our Highlights of Rajasthan tour.

10. Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

The annual ice and snow festival takes place over winter and showcases beautiful sculpture artworks, lit in bright colours and patterns. Sculptures range from tall monuments and mythical creatures to ice lanterns. Marvel at the craftsmanship of these beautiful works of art.

Experience Asia’s festivals on one of our small group tours or speak to one of our experts.