Rich in culture and tradition and known for its exotic cuisine, Asia undoubtedly has a charm that draws travelers from across the globe. But you know you haven't really experienced Asia when you haven't been to any of these vibrant and vivacious festivals:
Cherry Blossom Festival (Japan)
Japan's biggest festival showcases the beautiful flower the country has always been associated with, sakura or cherry blossom. The Hanami, which means cherry blossom viewing, is held over Spring when these gorgeous flowers are in bloom. During the festival, families and friends gather to enjoy good food and drinks under the trees covered with cherry blossom, just like a relaxing picnic. Tourists not only get to savor the aesthetic feature of this festivity as they can also try some local food sold by festival vendors, join in tea ceremonies, or be entertained by a variety of traditional Japanese performing arts.
Songkran Festival (Thailand)
If your idea of fun is wet and wild, the Songkran Festival in Thailand will shower you with just that. Aptly celebrated from the 13th to the 15th day of April, the hottest month in Thailand, this festival is the country's traditional New Year's celebration. People in the streets, public places, and just about everywhere splash each other with water as part of the festivity. In Thai tradition, water symbolizes cleansing and renewal. There are other symbolic, more solemn rituals involving water during these festival but it's the "water fight" in the streets that draws tourists to see how fun-loving Thais could be. Depending on which part of the country, the celebration usually lasts for 3-10 days.
Spring Festival / Lunar New Year (China)
Another New Year celebration that is unique in Asia is the Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. The celebrations traditionally ran from the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar to the 15th day of the first month. While this is widely celebrated by ethnic Chinese around the world, the best place to take part of it is in China where one can truly immerse in its tradition. During these days, tourists can visit flower markets and incense-filled temples or gasp at the spectacle of colors through pyrotechnics show and the dragon dance. The festivity is said to bring good luck and prosperity.
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (China)
Delight in China's greatest ice artwork festival and join in the coolest celebration you could ever imagine. The Harbin Ice Festival has been awing both locals and tourists since being established in 1985. It opens every 5th of January and lasts for over a month. It is held in the city of Harbin, in the in northeast China, where the climate provides abundant natural ice and snow, perfect for showcasing breathtaking ice sculptures.
Elephant Festival (India)
Something that you don't always see everyday is the star in this festival. Celebrated annually, the Elephant Festival is held at Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan, India. It falls on the full moon day of Phalgun Purnima (February or March) as based on the Indian calendar. It also goes along with the Holi festival, where the whole of India bursts with colors and festivity. Be mesmerized by the grand showcase of elephants dressed and made up glamorously. Here, the royal creatures are embellished with shiny jewelries on their heads and feet, while their bodies are painted with traditional Indian motifs and gold embroidered velvet rugs are gracefully rested on their backs. They are also accompanied by camels, horses, and folk dancers during the parade.
Dragon Boat Festival (Macau)
Macau doesn’t only boast of luxurious casinos, it also has a lot of events and celebrations to offer. One of which is the spectacular Dragon Boat Festival. It is said to commemorate a 3rd century BC court adviser who was strongly against the decision of an emperor to go to war with a neighboring state, drowning himself to express his protest and leaving behind a beautiful poem. Today, the Dragon Boat Festival is a spectacular competition among local and international participants.