Festivals

January

Kachin Manaw Festival

Location : Myitkyina, Kachin State.
When :

This festival was celebrating a sacrificing-cum dancing best known as Manaw to propitiate or exercise numerous. Nat (spirits) the spectacular carnival held in every 10th of January is the festival to celebrate a victory or achievement where the young and old, the great and simple gather in true community spirit. Sipping Kaung Yay traditional intoxicating brew and the group dances in their ethnic costume on the sacrificial ground all night long. Other festival activities like food stalls, meals and entertainments can be seen at the celebration. It usually starts at the end of December and finishes at the beginning of January.
 

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Location : Ananda, Bagan.
When : 8th waxing day of Pyatho and ending of full moon day of Tabodwe 23 days festivals.
This is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Bagan. Ananda Pagoda holds its annual pagoda festival every January. The villagers from around Bagan come to the festival in traditional bullock carts and made camps for the whole duration of the festival. Many famous local theatrical troupes had come also to provide entertainment for the festival goers. There will be stores selling everything from foodstuff to agricultural implements. As the dawn breaks on the Full moon Day of Pyatho the pilgrims are up and ready with their donations. The monks make their way between the donors lined up on both sides and all reverently place their donations in the monk’s hands.

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

Location : Mahamuni precinct, Mandalay.
When : 14th waxing day of Tabodwe and full moon day of Tabodwe

Glutinous rice delicacy contests are held late on 14th waxing day of Tabodwe. In the morning of 15th waxing day, offer it to the Buddha. Thousands of people from all over the country make the pilgrimage to the Pagoda. The evening entertainment includes a variety of dances, songs, short and long play, open air movies and many stalls selling up various traditional snacks and other utilities.

Naga New Year Festival

Location : Khamti, Lahe, Lashi (Sagaing)
When : 12th – 16th Jan 2017

The authentic Naga Hill Tribes (about 68 different groups) wear their respective traditional costumes to participate this important festival. They worship to their deities by scarifying the animals. Their traditional dance, martial music and cults of animism are unique and interesting. The festival days are 14 & 15 of January
 

February

Mawtinsun Pagoda Festival

Location: Pagoda point, Pathein
When:

15 days festival. Pilgrimage and recreation go together at this seashore. Long and secluded beach stretch between pagoda point and cape Negrais is haven both for beach lovers and beach bums alike.

Indawgyi Pagoda Festival

Location : Moe Nyin, Kachin State
When:

8 days ceremony. The ceremony is sponsored by Kachin Buddhists. In summer, a footpath leading to the pagoda surfaces enabling pilgrims to walk to the pagoda. Usually the pagoda is surrounded by a large volume of water, in the Indawgyi Lake.

March/April

Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival

Location : Bago
When: 8th waxing day of Tagu to 5th waning day of Tagu

13 days ceremony. Vendors come from far and near and build temporary shops made of bamboo to sell their local products as is the usual case of a pagoda festival in Myanmar. Dancing troupes perform onstage for a whole night. Theatrical artists perform on stage with full force to show, their competitive edge over their counterparts and to win future performance.

Pindaya Cave festival

Location : Pindaya, Shan State
When : first/second week of March

Typical Taung-yo pagoda festival held at Pindaya Cave. Different ethnic minority races can be seen. The festival usually falls on the first or second week of every March and lasts about one week.



April

Thingyan Water Festival

Location : throughout the country
When : 13th to 17th April 2017

The festival is held prior to Myanmar New year to clean away evil deeds of the past year with water. Youths go out for enjoyment while elders take retreat in monasteries and pagoda precincts to perform meritorious deeds. People build temporary pavilions and from there throw water at passerby and revelers going around in open cars and trucks. Traditional foods are offered as donation to whoever passing by. In the evening dancing troupes go round in decorated floats to compete in dancing and rap style satirical singing contests held throughout the city.

Myanmar New Year’s Day

Location : throughout the country.
When : 17th April 2017

Buddhists young and old alike, spend the day performing meritorious deeds such as releasing animals, offering to monks, paying homage to elder, etc..

 

Popa Nats or Spirit Festival

Location : Mt. Popa
When : 3rd waning day of Kasone

Pilgrim from all over the country pay respect to Mt. Popa Nat Shrines, (a spirit – the black smith Maung Tint Te, Min Maha Giri) ) who killed by King of Tagaung for his strength. Bagan King made a place as shrine for him and effectively starting the official worship of Nat in Myanmar, Nat believes from all over the country to come and pay respect to Mt. Popa and the Nat shrines.

May

Shwe-kyet-yet Pagoda Event

Location :Mandalay
When : Full moon day of Kason

Full-dress, large-scale procession followed by water-pouring on the sacred Botree, significantly, on the waxing day of Kason, a day before normal watering day. The festival falls in the first week of May and takes place one day only.

Kason Fullmoon festival or watering of the sacred Bo Tree Festival

Location : throughout the country
When : Full moon day of Kasone

This day is not only the Buddha birthday but also attained Buddha hood while sitting in meditation under a Bo Tree and attained Nirvana at the aged of 80 years. Full moon day of Kasone is one of the holiest day of the year of Buddhist. And this month is hottest month in Myanmar. That's the reason for purring the water on the Bo Tree. Women carry small water pots on the heads and go to Bo Tree in processing to pour water. Men accompany with them playing traditional musical instruments.

Shit-thaung Festival

Location :Mruak U (Rakhine)
When : Full moon day of Kasone

Dummy boat races on land, real boat contests and water splashing in Mrauk Oo canal on full-moon day. Traditional wrestling at the foot of the pagoda; finals

 

June & July

Dhama Sakya Day (Shwedagon and other famous pagodas)

Location : throughout the country
When : Full moon day of Waso

This day commemorates the Lord Buddha's first sermon (Dhama Sakya) to his five disciples. It is also first day of Buddhist Lent during which the monks are prohibited to travel and sleep outside of their monasteries. The holy day's religious activities can be found at the precincts of the famous pagodas and monasteries featuring; delivering sermons by Buddhist monks, reciting Pali verses praising Lord Buddha, offering meals to the monks.

Waso Robe Offering

Location : throughout the country
When : During the month on Waso

The Waso Robe Offering Ceremony marks the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent in the month of Waso (June/July). This ceremony celebrates the Buddha's first sermon, delivered forty-nine days after he attained nirvana. During the ceremony, monks are offered robes to wear during Lent, a time when they are not allowed to travel. No weddings, feasts, or festivals are celebrated during the Buddhist Lent, and people try to follow the Five Precepts more conscientiously.

August

Taungbyone Nats or Spirits Festival

Location : Taung byone, Mandalay
When : 8th waxing day of Wagaung to the full moon day of Wagaung

6 days ceremony. The most famous of the Nat festival in Myanmar. Held for worshipping two Taung Byone spiritual figures. Major gathering spot for spiritual medium. Spiritual dances are rampant. This event is visited by all over the country who worship Nat, especially the traders and merchants who want help for more profits.
 

September

Yadana Gu Nat Festival

Location : Ratanagu Pagoda, Amarapura Township, Mandalay
When : 8th waning day of Wagaung to 15th waning day of Wagaung

It is of much glories and distinguished spirit festival occurs annually on September, just one week after the end of Taungbyon spirit festival. It takes 8 days to complete the occasion of the Yadanagu Spirit festival. The festival is held annually in honor of Popa Médaw, Méwanna (mother of the two Lords) who came back from Taunbyon Festival, on her way back to Mt. Popa, she halted at the Yadanagu as her Transit-Camp. It is also believed that the festival is held in the commemoration of Popa Médaw who has been sent to Mt. Popa by her Sons, Mingyi and Minlay. There are two pantheons or Spirit Shrines at Yadanagu, the people held the festivals annually at two places at the same time in comparatively. When visiting Yadanagu Pagoda Spirit. Festival one might see the Kinship between nats and humans. Some group of people could be seen holding a ceremony to propitiate nats everywhere around Yadanagu area. Some are dancing as if he is possessed by a nat. But you could see some people though he is not possessed by nats would be dancing like anything. The music playing in this ceremony
could stimulate the people more than any other type of music and hence everybody wants to get into the ceremony. The festival usually starts on the first or second week of September.

October

Thadingyut Festival or Festival of light

Location : Throughout the country
When : 14th waxing day to 1st waning day of Thadingyut

3 days festival. To make the day Lord Buddha came down from the celestial Abode after spending 3 months of the Buddhist Lord there. Buddha’s return is remembered and commemorated throughout the country with colorful illuminations. It is the end of the Buddhist Lent and is also one of the most prominent festival of the year. Pagodas, houses, public buildings, parks, and monuments are all illuminated and there is various kind of everyone to enjoy. Thidingyut is not only for joyous but also thanksgiving and paying homage to Buddhist monks, parents, teachers and elders and asking pardon for whatever misdeeds might have committed during the year.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Location : Inle Lake, Shan State
When : 1st waxing day to 2nd waning day of Thadingyut

The famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is held at Inle Lake once a year. The four Buddha images are placed on a decorated royal barge and taken around the lake, stopping at villages for people to pay homage. The procession of the Inle leg-rowers are held in full pageantry and ceremonial splendor and it is a sight not to be missed. Thousands of people of Shan state attend this most holy of Shan celebration.

Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival

Location : Kuaukse, 26 mile, south of Mandalay, Mandalay Division
When : 14th waxing day of thadingyut

Kyaukse Elephant Dance Festival is a yearly cultural highlight of Kyaukse; located 26 miles to the south of Mandalay. A huge elephant figure is made from bamboo and paper. 2 men take their places inside the figure and imitate and coordinate the movements of the dancers, assisted by a small number of musicians. The festival is celebrated on the day before the full moon of Thadingyut (October). As the day progresses, it is getting more and more crowded because people from nearby villages and as far as Mandalay come to Kyaukse and join in the festivities.

November

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock) Festival

Location : Kyaikhto, Mon State
When : Full moon day of Thazaungdai

Approximate 9 month long season. The boulder standing on the edge of a peak in the highest mountain range, is said to be freely hanging over the cliff. Famous as pilgrimage and holiday outing spot.

 

Hot-Air Balloons Festival

Location : Taunggyi, Shan State.
When : 12th waxing day to full moon day of Tazaungmone

6 days festival. Typical Pa-oh festival. Hot-Air Balloons made of bamboo and paper are released day and night, competing over their beauty and the altitude they gain. Day time flying is meant for competition of animal figures and night time is for beautiful fireworks.
 

Robe Weaving Contest

Location :Yangon, Mandalay, Sagaing
When :Full moon day of Thazaungmone

In the month of Tazaungmon, we have lighting festival which is known as Tazaungdaing festival. This festival is not only lighting festival but also celebrates religious activities. During this festival Myanmar Buddhist people celebrates offering ceremony of robes to the monks and paying a greater attention to the needs of the monks. At night, there are variety pattern of lights on houses and pagoda platforms. In every parts of the country, youths set off flying Lanterns (Balloons protecting a light against wind). In Myanmar, it is called “Mee-Bone-Byan”. It is a huge balloons made of way paper, Maraj in Cloths and plastic sheets. In olden days Waso paper are widely used while in modern days plastic sheets are used. We filled the balloons with smoke from grease-soaked rag let at an opening the bottom. After getting enough smoke, the balloon slowly rises as everyone cheers, then floats upwards until only a flowing round flub of light is seen. More creative villager make balloons in the form of tigers, elephants and birds. The people make the balloons and set them off flying for offering the light to the Sulamani Pagoda in Tawadaintha Heaven, built by the King of Celestials Beings, and enshrined relic of the Buddha’s hair. The festival falls between first to third week of November and lasts for five days.

Shwezigon Pagoda Festival

Location : Nyaung U (Bagan)
When : November
Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan, Myanmar will hold its annual pagoda festival for 23 days till full moon day of November(17). The pagoda was built by King Anawrahta and completed by King Kyan Sittha, two of the most might kings of the Bagan Dynasty circa 10th century. The pagoda festival is visited by thousand of Buddhist pilgrims from all over the country and will combine many religious activities with commerce and entertainment, common with other pagoda festivals in Myanmar..

December

Kayin New Year Day

Location : Pha-an in Kayin State and Arlain Ngarsint in Yangon.
When : December 29, 2016

Speeches by Kayin elders followed by group dances.

Christmas Day

Location : Among Christian community in Yangon and others.
Christianity is the second largest religion in Myanmar after Buddhism.

Powintaung Caves Festival

Location : Monywa
When : First/Second week of December

The 6 days ceremony of festival is held at the pagoda of Po Win Taung Cave in Monywa. Most of the devotees and revelers of Myanmar are coming with more than 500 bullock carts carrying clay pot in each cart to this festival. On the ceremony day, they drop this clay pot from the front part of bullock cart , it’s called Hlae Oo Cha [it means paying homage to the spirits of the cave with their bullock carts]. Normally there’re a lot of monkeys along the way to the cave, how wondering is no monkeys during the festival ! and all the natives believed that the guardian spirits keep them from harm of people who’ll intend to kill them and not to disturb the devotees and any others who come to participate this event.
The festival usually takes place in the first or second week of December.