The people of Myanmar like to celebrate and attending their festivals is a good way to get an idea of the country’s traditional songs, dances and costume. Most Buddhist holidays are set according to the phases of the moon rather than standard calendars, so dates tend to vary from year to year.
Here is a list of some of the most prominent festivals with details of what you can expect to experience.
This national holiday is celebrated on January 4th. Most businesses close for the day and foreigners are not permitted to join the ceremonies.
Ananda Pagoda Festival
Held between January 10th and February 1st in the city of Bagan, this lively festival features singing, dancing, plays, and film screenings. A large number of stalls set up and this is a good time to purchase local produce.
Celebrated in Mandalay in the second week of February, monks gather here to chant and the festival is also full of singing, dancing and traditional theatre.
On February 12th people gather and the hill tribes dance in their traditional dress.
Shwe Saryan Pagoda Festival
Take a boat along the river from Mandalay to witness this colourful festival and buy traditional products such as toys, boxes, baskets and mats.
Pindaya Cave Festival
Held on March 16th in Pindaya, this two day festival features much singing and dancing.
Similar to Songkran is Laos and Thailand, people throw water during this festival in mid April and most things are closed as everyone joins in the fun.
Sand Stupa Festival
In Mandalay in the middle of April intriguing sand stupas are built in different parts of the city using traditional techniques.
Waso Full Moon Day
Buddhist Lent begins in the middle of July and people gather at the temples and stupas to donate good to the monks.
On July 19th ceremonies are held to mark the assassination of General Aung San.
Taung Byone Festival
Travel to the village of Matara near Mandalay on August 8th to witness the traditional Nat dance.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
During this 2 week festival Buddhist images are placed in decorated barges and floated on Lake Inle.
Elephant Dance Festival
This vibrant festival is held on October 9th and 1oth near Mandalay.
On October 11th the whole country celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent
Fire Balloon Festival
This special three-day festival starts on November 16th in Taunggyi. Taunggyi the festival is celebrated with competitions of decorated hot-air balloons in different shapes and forms of animals such as elephants, cattle, the mythical Hintha bird and hens as well as with fireworks and firecrackers in the evening.
Robe Weaving Contest
Held in all major cities on November 7th, teams of women compete against each other to gain recognition as the best robe weavers.