Whenever anyone mentions festivals, people immediately think Mardi Gras or Burning Man in America, Holi in India , The Carnevale in Venice Italy, and the Pamplona Bull Run in Spain. Few visitors to Southeast Asian countries know that there are plenty of interesting festivals and celebrations they can join in. Festivals are one of the best ways to connect with local people and immerse yourself in their culture.
Festivals are a perfect opportunity to take photographs and be photographed, as they’re usually vibrant, colourful and full of life. Here are 10 of the most lively and beautiful festivals in Southeast Asia you should visit if you’re in the region:
1) Songkran Festival, Thailand
The Thai New Year is celebrated in a one of a kind way in Thailand during the month of April each year, where people drench each other in water to ‘bless’ one another, turning the streets into an all out friendly water battle zone. Visitors are more than welcomed to join in the fun, as long as everyone keeps it safe and within the confines of the rules, which includes not dousing the elderly and young children.
2) Rainforest World Music Festival, Kuching, Malaysia
This music festival is one of the largest gatherings of ethnic musicians from all over the world who will beguile visitors with sounds that are rich in tradition and culture. It takes place in August annually and you can expect lots of relaxing sounds that remind you of nature.
3) Bali Spirit Festival, Ubud, Bali
Taking place in March every year, this modern dance, arts, and performance festival see the gathering of various artists that fuse indigenous Balinese culture with modern international elements. Apart from various dance and stage performances, there are Yoga, dance and music workshops for everyone to participate in.
4) Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival, Laos
The Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival is an event where villages all over Laos gather and show off their home made brightly coloured rockets, and the winners are those that can fire the rocket that reaches the greatest heights. Apart from the official competition sessions, there’s a lot of feasting, drinking and general partying going on around the festival grounds.
5) Thaipusam, Malaysia
Hindu devotees of Lord Murugan celebrate their deity once a year in Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur by performing elaborate feats such as piercing their tongues and bodies to show penance and devotion. This site attracts many tourists who also wish to observe other devotees carrying heavy metal frames up the long flight of 272 steps towards the temple at the top of the caves.
6) Singapore Arts Festival, Singapore
This month-long arts festival features international performances of the conventional and experimental kind, with performers all over the world showcasing their talents. It also includes performances by talented art troupes and children which are guaranteed to light up your nights in Singapore.
7) Phuket Vegetarian Festival, Thailand
If you’re expecting a tame event where Buddhist vegetarians try to sell you healthy meals with lots of meat free products, you’ll be in for a surprise as the actions of the devotees here rival those you see during Thaipusam. Devotees attempt to rid themselves of evil spirits during the festival by indulging in acts of self-torture, including piercing their bodies, walking over hot coals, going into a trance and many more shocking, but utterly interesting acts.
8) Feast of the Black Nazarene, Manila, Philippines
Once a year the church of Quiapo in Manila comes alive as thousands of people throng the streets to watch and pay homage to the statue of the Black Nazarene, which is said to hold miraculous powers. Apart from being able to watch this religious procession, you’ll also get to enjoy shopping at all the street stalls that spring up around the festival.
9) Loi Krathong, Thailand
Loi Krathong is an almost magical festival which celebrates the Goddess of Water in Thailand and the night sky is lit up by thousands of paper lanterns released into the air, creating a dream-like atmosphere. The Thais also release little boats called ‘Krathong’ into the rivers and waterways as the sign that they release all their worries and sadness.
10) Water Festival, Cambodia
Towards the end of the year, in November, you can take the opportunity to visit Cambodia and participate in the Tonle Sap water festival that ushers in the start of the fishing season. There are regular boat races to watch along the river, as well as fireworks throughout the city.
The next time you go for any of these festivals, remember to bring your camera or else hire a photographer on WanderZoom!
p/s: If there are any other festival(s) which you would like to share, let us know in the comment section!