Festivals in Myanmar

January ( Nadaw - Pyartho )

Kachin Manaw Festival

Location : Myitkyina, Kachin State.
When : Usually around first week of January
Duration : One day
Manaw festival is the celebration of the New Year, Victory in battles, reunion of the tribes. All who came to the festival wear their best traditional costume and the main feature of the festival is dancing around the erected Manaw poles, quite similar to the totem poles of North American Indians.

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Location : Ananda Pagoda, Bagan.
When : Full Moon of Pyatho to 15th  Waning of Pyatho
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. Bowls of alms filled with donated items are offered to monks who all wait in a long line. During the festival, walk around in sea of vendors and shops that sell traditional Myanmar food-staff and enjoy the local atmosphere in locality.

Naga New Year Festival

Location : Khamti, Lahe, Lashi (Sagaing State)
When : Usually January 14 to 16, (depends on Lunar calendar)
Duration : 3 days
Naga New Year Festival is one of the rarest ceremonies in Myanmar .They pray for abundant crops and domestic animals and to have good weather. During the festival, different Naga clans gather in colorful costumes to dance to the sound of loud beating drums.

February ( Pyartho - Tabodwei )

Htamane Festival

Location : Throughout The Whole Country
When : Full Moon Day of Tabodwe 
Duration : One day
Htamane Festival is a competition between teams of men for donation of Glutinous Rice to the Great Lord Buddha in early morning on Full Moon Day. Htamane Festival gives the entire country of Myanmar a joyous atmosphere. Sampling the sticky rice confection is something you’re taste buds will never forget.

Maha Myat Muni Pagoda Festival

Location : Maha Myat Mun Pagoda , Mandalay
When : Full Moon Day of Tabodwe
Duration : 2 days
The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda contains one of the most revered image of the Buddha in Myanmar.Thousand 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. The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda is at the epicenter of Mandalay’s religious life, and experiencing this ancient and much revered temple during the festival is a sight that should not be missed.

Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Festival

Location : Kyaik Khauk Pagoda , Thanlyin
When : 8th  Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabodwe
Duration : 8 days
The Kyaik Khauk Pagoda is a beautiful impressive pagoda in the same style as the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. The pagoda is believed to have been built more than 2,000 years ago, after which it has been enlarged and renovated many times. Most of the activities of Pagoda Festivals are evening entertainments such as Zat (Drama). Anyient , Stage Show and Movies shown in the open air the whole night every day.

March ( Tabodwei – Tabaung )

Shwedagon Pagoda Festival

Location : Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
When : Full Moon Day of Tabaung
Duration : One week
Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is one of the most significant Pagoda festivals in Myanmar, is celebrated on the full moon day of Tabaung (March) every year. During the festival, the pagoda is ringed by the flames and smoke of thousands of candle and incense sticks lit by the pilgrims as offerings of good forune.

Kakku Pagoda Festival

Location : Kekku Pagoda (near Taunggyi ), Shan State.
When : 14th waxing of Tabaung
Duration : 3 days
The Kakku Pagoda festival is the annual harvest celebration for the Pa-oh ethnic. This festival is not just a religious festival but also a social occasion. During the festival the Pa-oh ethnics perform ancient songs and dance celebrating their proud traditions. It is the time for all to have fun, exchange news and gossips, to trade. For the younger set it is the time to meet their friends from other villages or the boys to fall in love with the girls.

Shwe Oo Min Pagoda Festival

Location : Shwe Oo Min Pagoda , Pintaya, Shan State.
When : 11th waxing of Tabaung
Duration : 5 days
The Shwe Oo Min Pagoda festival is the annual harvest celebration for the town of Pindaya. During the Shwe Oo Min Pagoda festival, sell a portion of their bounty, and donate alms to the pagoda as a religious merit-making activity. The annual festival is a much an economic necessity as it is a religious event.

April ( Tabaung – Tagu )

Mann Shwe Settaw Pagoda Festival

Location : Shwe Settaw , Magwe
When : 5th Waxing of Tabodwe to Myanmar New Year’s Day
Duration : 3 months
Mann Shwe Sattaw Pagoda Festival is one of the most significant Pagoda Festival in Upper Myanmar. Almost 100,000 pilgrims made the arduous journey to the Shwesettaw Pagoda Festival in Magwe Region’s Minbu Township for the Tabaung full moon day. At Mann Shwe Sattaw Pagoda you will find the upper Sattawyar the footprint of lord Buddha on the hill and the lower Sattawyar another footprint of the Buddha at the foot of the same hill. During the festival period, the ground on either bank of the Mann River fill with merchant stalls selling hand crafted goods and local delicacies.

Thingyan Water Festival

Location : Throughout The Whole Country
When : Usually April 13th to 17th, (depends on Lunar calendar)
Duration : 5 days
The festival is held prior to Myanmar New year to clean away the previous year’s bad luck and sins 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 Whole Country
When : Usually April 17th , (depends on Lunar calendar)
Duration : One day
Buddhists young and old alike, spend the day performing meritorious deeds such as releasing animals, offering to monks, paying homage to elder, etc..

May ( Tagu - Kason )

Kason Full moon Festival Or Watering Of The Sacred Bo Tree Festival

Location : Throughout The Whole Country
When : Full Moon day of Kasone
Duration : One day
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 puring 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 eith them playing traditional musical instruments.

June ( Kason – Nayon )

Thiho Pagoda Festival

Location : Thiho Shin Pagoda, Pakokku (Centural Myanmar)
When : 8th Waxing of Nayon
Duration : 15 days
The thiho shin pagoda festival is a time honored tradition that culture enthusiasts love to experience. 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 chili, baskets, tobacco and the best thanakha trees etc.

July ( Nayon - Waso )

Dhama Sakya Day (Shwedagon and other famous pagodas)

Location : Throughout The Whole Country
When : Full Moon day of Waso
Duration : One day
This day commemorates the Lord Buddha’s first sermon (Dhama Sakya) to his five disciples. It is also first day 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 Whole Country
When : During the month on Waso
Duration : One Months (depends on Lunar calendar)
The month of Waso in Myanmar calendar is associated with the offering of Waso Robe to the Buddhist monks viewed precursor to the Buddhist lent, not later than the full-moon day of Waso. After this day, the Buddhist monks are forbidden to travel and are required to spend lent in their monasteries. The robes are offered to use during the period of retreat.

August ( Waso - Wakhaung )

Taungbyone Nats or Spirits Festival

Location : Taungbyone , (near Mount Popa )
When : 8th  Waxing day of Wakhaung to Full moon day of Wakhaung
Duration : 6 days
Taungbyone Nats or Spirits Festival is one of the most famous of the Nat festival in Myanmar. During the festival, the spirit mediums dance through the crowds of people in town accepting token gifts of money and alcohol accompanied by a traditional drum and cymbal orchestra and offer their donations and enjoy themselves with the blessings of the spirits every year. They pray for prosperity, fame and luck for the next coming year. This festival is visited by all over the country who worships Nat, especially the traders and merchants who want help for more profits.

September ( Wakhaung - Tawthalin)

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Location : Paung Daw Oo Pagoda , Inle Lake
When : 1st  Waxing to 3rd Waning Day of Thadingyut 
Duration : 18 days
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Myanmar. During the festival, 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. There are also Shan traditional boat races participated by leg-rowers and it is a sight not to be missed.

October (Tawthalin – Thadingyut )

Thadingyut Light Festival

Location : Throughout The Whole Country
When : 14th Waxing to 1st Waning Day of Thadingyut 
Duration : 3 days
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 festivals 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. 

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (The Golden Rock) Festival

Location : Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda
When : Full Moon Day Of Thadingyut
Duration : One day
The Kyaikhtiyo pagoda is one of the most ancient and celebrated of all pagodas in Myanmar. It is a special festival of lights celebration, On the Full Moon Day of Thadingyut , locals offer the lighting of 9000 candles and 9000 flowers to the Biuddha. On the next morning, rice, sweets and other snacks are offered. The platform and passage of the pagoda are usually filled with visitors from all over the country. Tourists also find the golden rock pagoda magnificent. During the festival time most of the local places and hotels around the pagoda are fully booked.

Dancing Elephants Festival

Location : Kyaukse ( near Mandalay)
When : 14th Waxing to Full Moon Day Of Thadingyut
Duration : 2 days
Dancing Elephant Festival is a marvelous performance of two men together to dance in rhythm. A huge elephant figure is made from bamboo and paper. Men take their places inside the figure and dance around the town to the accompaniment of Dobat and Drums. 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 ( Thadingyut – Tazaunmone )

Taunggyi Hot-Air Balloons Festival

Location : Taunggyi, Shan State
When : usually around 9th Waxing to Full Mon Day of Tazaunmone
Duration : 7 days
Taunggyi Hot-Air Balloons Festival is the most popular main attraction in Myanmar. During the festival people enjoy fun and merriment by holding firework-lunching competitions. There are also competitions on the day and night occasions. Day balloons are usually in the form of animals such as elephant, ox, horse, water buffalo, bird, pig, fish, owl, and parrot and night balloons are usually in the shape of rugby ball, huge elongated paper balls with small lighted multicolored paper lanterns hung around their sides and balloons would sting along fireworks and fire sticks which are set off mid-air fireworks. Foreign tourists who are touring Taunggyi during November can surely consider yourselves lucky as you have the chance to see the beauty and enjoyment Hot-Air Balloons Festival in Taunggyi.

December ( Tazaunmone - Nadaw )

Kayin New Year Day

Location : Pha-an in Kayin State and Arlain Ngarsint in Yangon
When : The First Day Of Pyartho (depends on Lunar calendar)
Duration : One day
Kayin New Year day is a National Public Holiday in Myanmar. Traditional Kayin costume was worn by most of the celebrants at the events. Many young and old Kayins wear their traditional colourful dresses and go around the city. visit relatives and enjoy the festival. In Hpa An, the capital city of Kayin State, dance competitions are held every year. In Hpa An, you will find the largest and most colorful display of Kayins wearing their traditional dress as they walk all over the city. You will want to have your camera ready and may want to ask some Kayin to pose for you so you can take some truly interesting and memorable photographs.