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Events and Festivals

Naga New Year Festival

Date – Usually January 14 to 16

Location – Either Lahe or Layshi, Sagaing Region

Duration – (3) Days


Naga New Year Festival is one of the rarest ceremonies in Myanmar. There are more than 49 different clans with their own distinctive dresses and dialects. They usually gather annually to celebrate the New Year which falls on January 15. Package tours are available to visit the Naga New Year Festival of Myanmar.

Kachin Manaw Festival

Date – Usually around first week of January

Location – Myintkyina, Kachin State

Duration – (1) day

The Kachin; one of the major races of Myanmar, take great part in this festival and many Kachin people from abroad come back to meet and dance at this special event. The Manaw dance is performed at Manaw Festival which originated as part of the Nat or spirit worship of the past.

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Date – Full Moon of Pyatho to 15th Waning of Pyatho

Location – Bagan

Duration – (15) days

This is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Bagan; one of the Asia’s most amazing and richest archaeological sites. The Great Ananda Pagoda Festival is said to have been going on continuously since the Bagan period. Long ago, people from many villages around Bagan came to the festival in bullock-carts and made camps for the whole duration of the festival. Even now some villagers still come to the festival in the traditional way. Visitors can definitely enjoy the traditional lifestyle of the locals of Bagan during this festival.

Ko Gyi Kyaw Spirit Festival

Date – 3rd Waxing to 10th Waxing of Tabaung

Location – Pakhan, Yayzagyo Township

Duration – 8 days

It is enjoyable to see the singing and dancing of the worshippers to KoGyiKyaw; a happy spirit who loves to drink and gamble. This annual festival in his honor is celebrated in his home town; Yayzagyo, Mandalay region.

Htamane (Glutinous Rice Festival)

Date – Full Moon Day of Tabodwe

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – 1 day

This is a competition between teams of men for donation of Glutinous Rice to the Great Lord Buddha in early morning on Full Moon Day. There are lots of people enjoy watching the demonstrations and competition of cooking glutinous rice and after finished, Glutinous rice is distributed as donation to people and followed by the prize giving ceremony for the winners.

Maha Muni Pagoda Festival

Date – 14th Waxing and Full Moon Day of Tabodwe

Location – Mandalay

Duration – (2) days

Maha Muni Buddha image is highly venerated, as it is said to be made in front of Buddha Himself and thus its face is most revered. The image is completely covered with 15 cm-thick gold. February is the coldest month in Myanmar and at the Maha Muni Pagoda Festival Devotees light bonfires and cook huge pans of sticky rice with ginger, coconut and sesame to offer to monks.

Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabodwe

Location – Thanlyin, near Yangon

Duration – (8) days

It is one of the famous pagoda festivals around Yangon City. Most of the activities of Pagoda Festival are evening entertainments such as Zat(Drama), Anyient, Stage Show and Movies shown in the open air, the whole night every day.

Mann Shwe Settaw Pagoda Festival

Date – Begins on 5th Waxing of Tabodwe

Location – ShweSettaw, Magwe Region, Central Myanmar

Duration – (2) Months

Travel Now Travel & TourThere are two pagodas which enshrine footprints of the Buddha. The site is on the bank of Mann Creek where bamboo cabins are erected every year for local travellers to enjoy cool swims during the heat of summer.

Panguni Uthiram (Fill Moon Day of Panguni Month of Tamil People)

Date – Full Moon Day of Tabaung or Tagu (March or April)

Location – Sri AngataEswariMunieswar Swamy Temple, Pelikha Village, Kyauk Tan Township, Yangon Region

Duration – (10) Days, main festival falls on Full Moon Day

PanguniUthiram is the main religious festival of Hindu people in Myanmar, held in the compound of Sri AngalaEswariMunieswarSwamy Temple, Pelikha Village Kyauk Tan Township which was built in 1862. The ritual attracts many participants and even more spectators with the performance of fire walking, many of who wait long hours to witness relatives or friends perform. After walking over the hot coals, the devotees wade through a pit filled with goat’s milk, then rub their feet with yellow powder, turmeric. This holy rare occasion is usually attended by the many local and overseas devotees.

Alaungdawkathapa Pagoda Festival

Date – Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – AlaungdawKathapa National Park, Sagaing Region

Duration – (1) Day

The AlaungdawKathapa shrine is located in a National Park in Yinmarbin Township, Sagaing Region. It is crowded with the local people from surrounding area and far distances. The festival is held by lighting to the Pagoda and National Cave. People go there not only for just pilgrimage but also for observing the nature as it is one of the renowned ecotourism sites of Myanmar.

Mae Lamu Pagoda Festival

Dates – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Nadaw

Location – North Okkalapa Township, Yangon Region

Duration – (8) days

One of the famous pagoda festivals in Yangon Region. The activities of Pagoda festival are reciting the holy scriptures 24hours continuously throughout the festival by monks, offering provisions and articles to monks, celebrating festivities and performing with evening entertainments such as Zat(Drama), Stage Show and Movies.

Kakku Pagoda Festival

Date – Begins on 14th Waxing of Tabaung

Location – Kekku Ancient Pagoda Complex, near Taunggyi, Southern Shan State

Duration – (3) Days

A cluster of more than 3000 pagodas, said to be from Bagan period, but in the Yun Shan style, are grouped on a small hillock overlooking the Hopon valley. Pa-O people flock to the festival in their best costumes to pay homage to the pagoda on the full-moon day of Tabaung. The best time to see this is at dawn, on the full moon day, when villagers come with offerings to be offered to the Buddha Image. The festival ends with the pilgrims offering rice and other items to more than 1000 monks.

Shwe Myet Hman Pagoda Festival

Date – 13th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – Location – Shwetaung, Bago Region

Duration – (3) Days

People enjoy celebrating ShweMyetHman Pagoda festival annually. People of Buddhist can pay obeisance and others can observe the Buddha image, only one having spectacles, that is very wonderful in Myanmar. The products of Pyay and it’s environ, the traditional handicrafts from various places of Myanmar are available during the festival.

Shwe Oo Min Pagoda

Date – 11th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – Pindaya, Southern Shan State

Duration – (5) Days

Shan, Pa O, Palaung, TaungYoe, Intha, Danu groups residing around Pindaya come and camp under the huge banyan trees to take part in the festival. The Pindaya Cave houses hundreds of Buddha Images, old and some new. During the festival time, thousands of devotees come from villages around the area to the cave. It is a joyous scene, people coming in groups by cars, some coming in a huge line of traditional bullock-carts. The tribals circle the ox-carts, and in the middle, people do their cooking and rest for the night during the festival.

Za Lun Pyi – Taw – Pyan Buddha Image Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – Zalun, Ayeyawady Region

Duration – (8) Days

The colonialists who had occupied lower Myanmar took this Buddha Image to England with the intention of using the bronze in their mint. According to legend they could neither melt it nor break it with hammers, and the Queen was said to have suffered nagging headache and nightmares. She ordered that the statue be returned to the place from where it was taken. After sending back it to Myanmar, she recovered from the suffering. In memory of its having been taken abroad and having been brought back, it became famous as the Man AungMyinPyitawpyan Buddha Image (the statue that was returned from abroad).

Bawgyo Pagoda Festival

Date – 10th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – Thibaw Township, Southern Shan State

Duration – (6) Days

It is a famous historic pagoda festival in Shan State of Myanmar. Not only have the people from the Shan State but also the ones from the middle part of Myanmar take part in that festival. To observe Shan tradition, custom and culture, which are slightly different from the tradition of the middle part of Myanmar, is quite good while celebrating in the festival.

Inn Daw Gyi Shwe Myitzu Pagoda Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – Moenyin, Kachinstate (Northern Part of Myanmar)

Duration – (8) Days

ShweMyintzu Pagoda is situated on the largest lake in Myanmar, this 8 -day festival highlight a pilgrimage to the bank of the pagoda. Sandbanks emerge from the lake just prior to the beginning of the pagoda festival making it an easier trek for pilgrims. Local believe that one sandbank is used for human and the other is for spirits. Immediately following the festival, the sandbanks disappear and retreat back into the lake.

Shwe Natt Taung Pagoda Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Location – ShweTaung, Bago Region

Duration – (8) Days

This is one of the largest pagoda festivals in this part of Myanmar and many local pilgrims arrive by bullock-carts from the surrounding villages. This pagoda is said to be built in the Pyu period.

Novitiation Ceremony

Date – During the months of Ta bodwe and Taboung (school holidays, mostly in summer holidays in March and April before the water festival)

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – (2) days

It is deemed the most important duty that parents owe to their son by letting him go forth and embrace the legacy of the Buddha, join the Sangha as a novice and become immersed in the teachings of the Buddha at least for a short while. Novitiation Ceremony is the unique characteristics in Myanmar. The Ceremony usually celebrates during the school holidays. A formal Novitiation Ceremony involves a parade around the pagoda with boys all dressed up as princes.

Salon Festival

Date – Late April (After Thingyan (Water Festival))

Location – Myeik Archipelago

Duration – (1) Day

The only inhabitants in Myeik or Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar are Sea Gypsies, namely Salon (Moken). They live on boats during dry season and remain on land during rainy season. They still practice the same fishing and boat building techniques used for generation. Even they are living in the sea for most of the time, they have their traditions, customs, cultures and their localized traditional festival. During the festival, all villagers gather at the villages, offer foods and pray for their better on business, good luck, for good health and more prosperous for coming season. They are also enjoy their meals, drink and dance traditionally during their festival.

Shwe Madaw Pagoda Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to 5thWanning of Tagu

Location – Bago

Duration – (13) Days

The most famous Pagoda Festival in Bago. Classical theatre troupes perform their best here so they will be booked by agents for the next pagoda festival season.

Water Festival and Myanmar New Year

Date – Usually 13 April to 17 April (New Year’s Day)

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – (5) Days

Thingyan (The Water Festival) is the most interesting and greatest occasion for merry-making with the largest number of people taking part in it throughout the country. During the Thingyan Festival, people pour water over one another to the melodious tunes of singing and dancing at the decorated pavilions. Pouring water signifies cleansing the body and mind of evils of the past year. During these auspicious days, Myanmar people perform a lot of meritorious deeds to usher in the New Year such as keeping Sabbath, going to pagodas and monasteries, offering food and aims to monks, paying respect to parents, teachers and elders, setting free fish and cattle and so on. Thingyan is a distinctive festival which is always awaited with great joy and excitement by Myanmar people every year.

Pakokku Thiho Shin Pagoda Festival

Date – 8th Waxing of Nayon

Location – Pakokku, Central Myanmar

Duration – (15) Days

Pakokku is an old traditional town on the western bank of the Ayeyawady River. This pagoda festival is the most important for all towns west of the Ayeyawady and products from the region, such as dried chilli, homespun baskets and tobacco are sold every year at this huge country fair. The best thanakha trees, the bark of which is pounded to make the purely organic make-up cream used by many Myanmar women, grow in this area.

Ritual of Pouring Water on the Bodhi Tree

Date – Full Moon Day of Kason

Location – Pagodas throughout the country

Duration – (1) Day

 

This ritual commemorates the date 2500 years ago when the Buddha gained enlightenment while meditating under a Bodhi tree. Pilgrims pour water on the Bodhi trees in pagoda compounds to keep them fresh in the summer heat of May.

Waso Full Moon Festival

Date – Full Moon Day of Waso

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – Mid July

The Myanmar month of Waso is the beginning of the monsoon rains. It is also the start of the Buddhist Lent. Monks are prohibited to travel overnight form their monasteries. According to the monk’s code of conduct, they are still obligated to make the rounds for their daily food whether it is raining or not. As it is, they need spare robes. Therefore, there is a ceremony to offer robes to the monks for use during the wet season.

Warso Chin-Lone (Cane Ball) Festival

Date – After the Full Moon Day of Waso

Location – Maha Muni Pagoda Compound, Mandalay

Duration – (48) Days

Waso Chinlone Festival of Mahamuni Buddha image hold for 48 days. This game holds annually since 1926; the largest sport event of its kind, participated by over 1000 Chinlone teams. The players had travelled across from all corners of the country to pay homage to the most revered Shrine, and to convene in tribute, the game of Chinlone. It is believed that this game has taken root in Myanmar for more than 1500 years. During the Festival of Mahamuni Buddha image, as the grandeur of game call for, chinlone contest is performed with live music of Myanmar saing-waing (traditional orchestra) and running commentary.

Yadana Gu Spirit Festival

Date – 1st to 8th Wanning of Wagaung

Location – Amarapura, Mandalay Region

Duration – (8) Days

This Festival honours the mother of the two powerful spirit brothers in Bagan era. She is the Goddess of Popa and her main shrine is on Popa Crest, near Bagan. She is a powerful spirit and protector of women.

Taung Pyone Spirit Festival

Date – 8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Wagaung

Location – Taung Pyone Village, near Mandalay

Duration – (8) Days

Taung Pyone is the site where two brothers serving a king of Bagan in the 11th century were executed. They became powerful spirits of Nats. This festival in their honour is attended by tens of thousands of mediums and worshippers. During the festival, toddy palm wine, whisky, rum, grilled rabbit and fried chicken are offered to the two spirit brothers. Orchestras come to play for the mediums who dance to make the spirits ‘joyful’.

Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Date – 1st Waxing to 3rd Wanning Day of Thadingyut

Location – Inle Lake, Southern Shan State

Duration – (18) Days

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is one of the famous principal pagodas which houses five Buddha images. This pagoda is the main attraction of Inlay Lake and is situated in the middle of the Lake. Thousands of people from communities around the lake and villages in the surrounding mountains carry fruits and flowers on lacquer trays in their own boats and pay homage as the holy barge passes. Teams of the lake’s famous one-legged-rowers compete in annual boat races.

Manuha Pagoda Festival

Date – One Day before the Full Moon Day of Tawthalin

Location – Myinkaba village, Bagan, Mandalay Region

Duration – (2) Days

On the first day of festival, pretty village girls dressed in their best parade with trays of fruits and cakes to offer at the pagoda. During the afternoon, young men parade with larger-than-life paper-made figures of heroes, celestials and animals. At night, they put on dance and plays. The next morning at dawn they offer food at shrine and also to the monks.

Shwe Kyin Light Festival

Date – – After the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut

Location – Shwe Kyin Creek, Shwe Kyin Township, Bago Region

Duration – (1) Day

Shwe Kyin light festival is held every year on the day after the full moon day of Thadingyut. The festival includes daytime rowing races as well as competitive synchronized paddling exhibitions by separate teams of women and men. However, the highlight of the festival occurs only after darkness falls and locals launch hundreds of lit candles onto the water.

Kaunghmudaw Pagoda Festival

Date – Around Full Moon Day of Thadingyut

Location – Sagaing, Sagaing Region

Duration – (5) Days

One of the famous pagodas in central Myanmar. Most interesting aspect of this festival is the caravan of bullock carts in the pagoda compound. Some of the carts carry their village products, such as hand-woven cotton clothes and cane mats, etc to sell them at the festival. They like to camp under the shady trees.

Dancing Elephant Festival

Date – One day before the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut and the Full Moon Day

Location – Kyaukse, about 40km southeast of Mandalay

Duration – (2) Days

On the first day, colorfully decorated elephant figure made of cloth and bamboo with two men inside compete in dance competitions. The elephant with the best dance performance and behaviors wins the gold. Food and flowers are offered to the pagoda on the second day.

Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda Festival

Date – One day before the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut and the Full Moon Day

Location – Kyaukse, about 40km southeast of Mandalay

Duration – (2) Days

Travel Now Travel & TourOn the first day, colourfully decorated elephant figure made of cloth and bamboo with two men inside compete in dance competitions. The elephant with the best dance performance and behaviors wins the gold. Food and flowers are offered to the pagoda on the second day.

Festival of light

Date – One day before the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, the Full Moon Day and one day after

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – (3) Days

Travel Now Travel & TourThis festival commemorates the time when the Buddha returned to earth after preaching in the abode of celestials during the three months of Lent. He descended at night and devotees greeted Him with lamps and lanterns. People decorate their houses with candles and colored lanterns to symbolize this event. The festival of Light marks the end of Lent.

Shwe Sandaw (Pyay) Pagoda Festival

Date – – Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

Location – Pyay, Bago Region

Duration – (1) Day

Shwesandaw Pagoda is one of Myanmar’s biggest Buddhist pilgrimage sites and the festival of this pagoda is one of the most visited festivals for pilgrims all over the country. During the festival, the sacred tooth hall which contains a Buddha tooth relic is opened for devotees.

Phowin Taung Pagoda Festival

Date – day before Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

Location – Monywa, Sagaing Region

Duration – (2) Days

Like other pagoda festivals with the usual entertainment provided. Myanmar thanaka, sandalwood and woven textiles (cotton blankets and longyis mainly) can be bought at the various stalls around the pagoda area.

Shwezigon Pagoda Festival

Date – Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone Mandalay Region

Location – Nyaung U, near Bagan

Duration – (15) Days

On the Full Moon Day, there is a ritual of offering a filled alms bowl to a thousand and more monks and novices. Lacquer ware, glazed pots and hand woven cotton blankets are sold by villagers living in the region at this great country fair.

All Night Robe Weaving Contest

Date – Beings in evening before the Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

Location – Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, and other pagodas throughout the country

Duration – The whole night

In the evening of the Full Moon Day, teams of weavers complete to finish a monk’s robe during the night, to be offered to Buddha images at dawn the next day. It is a major event at the Shwedagon Pagoda. This ritual was once practiced both in the palace during the time of monarchy and villages.

Hot Air Balloon Festival

Date – Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone

Location – Taunngyi, southern Shan State

Duration – (3) Days

The most spectacular event of the year is the Hot Air Balloon Festival held every November in Taunggyi commonly called the Taunggyi Tazaungdaing Festival. Thousands of local pilgrims and international tourists choose to visit Taunggyi, especially to watch scores of giant paper animals being inflated and floated off into the sky. The competitions run during the day and at night when the sky is colorfully illuminated with hot air balloons. Hot air balloon in the shape of elephant, ox, horse, water buffalo, bird, pig, fish, owl, and parrot are sent up into the sky.

Tazaungmon Full Moon Festival

Date – Full Moon of Tazaungmone

Location – Throughout the country

Duration – (1) Day

After the rains, the monks would need new robes and on the full moon day, the offering of new robes for the monks are held. It is called the Kha htein ceremony. Sets of new robes and other offerings such as slippers, umbrellas, alms bowls, food, towels, soap and other necessities are presented to monks. Cash offerings for monasteries are also collected and displayed on wooden frames built in the shape of a tree.

Magway Mya Thalon Pagoda Festival

Date – Thadingyut

Location – Magway, Magway Division

Duration – (20) Days

Magway Mya Thalon Pagoda festival is one of the famous pagoda festivals in central Myanmar. According to historical statements, emerald couch of Buddha is anchored in the pagoda. That’s why the pagoda is called Mya Thalon. Emerald Couch in Myanmar means Mya Thalon.

Feast of 9000 oil lamps at Kyaik Hti Yo, Golden Rock Pagoda

Date – 31st December

Location – Kyaik-hti-yo ‘Golden Rocks’ Pagoda, Mon State

Duration – Evening hours

On the Kyaik-hti-yo pagoda site, 9000 oil lamps will be lit for worship in Buddha to welcome the New Year and to thank for the Buddhist teachings. The magical golden rock pagoda is on top of a giant and golden boulder.