There is nothing which teaches you more about a culture than attending the main festival of that culture. Festivals are the time when people express themselves the most, they behave true to their culture and celebrate their culture wholeheartedly.
Travelling is all about exploring cultures
and if you love to do so, here are the top 10 festivals of the Eastern part of the world which you have to attend in your lifetime:
1. Holi, the festival of colours in Jaipur, India
India is a colourful country and they love to celebrate their culture through colours. Holi, observed on the full moon night of March, is the festival of colours. People across the country play with colours of all kinds. They put colour on each other as an expression of love and happiness. They even touch their elder’s feet with colours and take their blessings – an expression of respect to elders.
The Holi festival in Jaipur is a must attend phenomenon. Jaipur, the pink city of India was built during the Mughal era and has beautiful Mughal architecture strewn everywhere. From humungous forts to small showpieces sold at markets, everything you see in this city has the Mughal touch. And no place in India celebrates colour in a more vivid way than Jaipur itself. The traditional wear for both men and women bear the evidence of it.
If you want to only see the festival and not get coloured on the way, don’t venture out on the streets. Find a balcony and enjoy the festival from far off. However, if you want the real deal and don’t mind turning into a rainbow venture out. Don’t think that it will be all dry colours, water jets and buckets which might be emptied on you. It doesn’t matter you know the people who put colour on you or not, nobody cares. People will put colour on you and you return the favour. You will find people preparing smoothies with ‘bhang’ in it. They will be delicious and one glass is enough to make you high. A must try.
Remember to wear a piece of clothing that you can scrap at the end. Be prepared to have the longest shower of your life.
2. Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai/Bangkok, Thailand
The Songkran Festival is the biggest festival in Thailand. It is basically the Thai new year. It is the longest holiday of the country and the best time to experience the Thai culture. It originates in Chiang Mai.
Thinking about what’s special about this festival? Well, thousands of Thais gather together on the streets with water pistols and buckets and empty them on each other. There’s no chance one can escape it unless they are a monk, a baby or an elderly person. The celebrations happen all across the town, the energy and enthusiasm among the people are incredible. As per the Thai culture, getting wet during this festival brings in luck and prosperity for the coming year.
3. Cherry Blossom Festival, Tokyo
The next festival in our list of 10 is to celebrate the blooming of the national flower of Japan – Cherry Blossom. The festival marks the end of harsh winter, the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new school and financial year. It not only brings warmth to the extremely cold days and nights, people’s heart also warm up during this time. Cherry blossoms bloom for only two weeks every year, so every place where the flowers can be seen turn into a carnival during this time. Tokyo’s Ueno Park has one thousand cherry blossom trees and provides a spectacular sight. Apart from this, the blooms can be viewed at Asukayama Park, the Meguro river, Chiroridafuchi etc.
The festival dates back to 1717 when 100 cherry trees were planted in Tokyo. Since then the number has multiplied manifold and today thousands of cherry trees stretch for 1.3 Km from the city.
Thinking of how to make the best of this festival. Well, the center of attraction of this festival is to site cherry blossoms at different parts of the Tokyo city. People go picnicking, there are vendors selling local Japanese stuff all over the city where you can shop to your heart’s content and eat traditional local stuff from local vendors.
4. Chinese New Year
A time of the year when China transforms it is the Chinese new year. Be there to see the colourful dragons, the amazing fireworks, vibrant clothing, flowers, lanterns and happiness everywhere. The festival traditionally starts on the Chinese new year’s eve and ends with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. This is the longest festival in China. It is more than a century old with various myths and stories associated with it.
Each of the days has a different tradition which is followed and is a spectacle to see. A reunion dinner called ‘Nian Ye Fan’ takes place on the new year’s eve where traditionally, the entire family gathers for dining together. The dinner usually involves several dishes of meat and fish. Members of the family also get a ‘red packet’ which contains money and food as a token of good luck.
Interact with the friendly Chinese people, gorge on some delicious local Chinese spread and be a part of the happiness and merriment – this is definitely a festival to attend.
5. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea
The Boryeong mud festival is the largest festival in South Korea, attracting a huge number of international visitors. The festival celebrates the Boryeong mud, a mud full of minerals, bentonites and germanium which has amazing benefits for skin and health. Every year, thousands of people assemble at Boryeong to celebrate the beautiful properties of the mud. There are various games and events planned around the mud including mud wrestling, mud sliding, swimming in the mega mud tub and even a mud massage. There is also a marine mud training course for visitors. In the evenings, the beach comes alive with music and fireworks to continue the festivities.
Express buses run between Boryeong and the Seoul city during this time to transport visitors.
6. Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, China
When you are doing a festival hopping, you can’t just leave the largest snow and ice festival in the world. The Harbin Ice and Snow festival, which takes place in Harbin, China celebrates winter. Outstanding things are built out of ice during the festival. Every exhibit is decorated with lights and laser to bring in a different kind of experience to them. The festival hosts the biggest ice sculptures of the world. Usually, the festival starts, on the 5th of January and continues for a month. The exhibits are kept as long as they stay, that is till they start melting.
Various events and activities take place during the festival, including winter swimming in the Songhua river, Yabuji alpine skiing and an ice lantern exhibition in the Zhaolin garden.
7. White Nights Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia
Imagine yourself listening to amazing music while watching the midnight sun. How awesome is that? And that is exactly what you will be doing if you attend the White Nights’ festival in St. Petersburg, Russia. The festival hosts a series of sophisticated events – classical ballet, opera, music events, a performance by dancers, singers, musicians, actors and a lot of famous international guest stars. The Scarlet Sails celebration, the largest public event of the festival, is the final night of the White Nights festival. The spectacular fireworks are the high point of this festival, which marks the end of the school year.
This is the largest festival in Russia with more than a million people attending it, most of whom are students. The White Lights festival also hosts various film festivals, which adds to the popularity of the festival.
Apart from film festivals, there are also a number of festivals which take place here. The largest among them is the one that takes place in the Peterhofs suburb. Actors dress up in period costumes from the times of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great and perform historical events here. They go about in period carriages around the Peterhof parks. The beautiful Palace Square of St. Petersburg is used as the natural stage and most of the events take part there. Period costumes from the era of the Tsars and Tsarinas are one of the things to see at these events.
8. Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan
Thousands of lanterns adorning the sky is what is waiting for you at the Pingxi Lantern festival in Taiwan. The festival dates back to 220-265 AD when the lanterns were used to transmit military information. Now, the festival represents warding off the evil. As the sky lanterns slowly rise into the sky, the hopes and lives of the people are thought to rise higher as well. The sky lanterns carry prayers and vows of the people and through the festival, people seek the purification of their souls.
The festival has been voted by Discovery Channel as the second biggest New Year’s eve celebration in the world. Apart from lanterns, the festival hosts various folk performances, lantern riddle contests and street folk carnivals. However, the height of the festival is the magnificent sight of thousands of lanterns lighting up the night sky.
If you plan to make the most of South East Asia, this is a festival that you definitely cannot miss.
9. Full Moon Party, Haad Rin Beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand
Party on a full moon night along with about 5000 fellow enthusiasts in the beautiful Haad Rin Beach on Koh Phangan. The full moon is best visible from the beautiful crescent shaped Haad Rin Beach in the whole of Thailand.
The nightlife on Haad Rin Beach is famous across the world, Koh Phangan has the biggest concentration of beach clubs in Thailand and is a frequented place among visitors. The festival hosts some highly talented DJ’s. The full moon party rightly justifies the term Party Gone Wild. Trance, techno, drums, beats, retro, reggae – whatever is your style, there’s something for you here. Dance to your heart’s content and then take breaks in between and chill with a glass of your favourite poison, this is going to be a night you will never forget in your life.
If you are a party animal, this is one party that you cannot afford to miss.
10. New Year’s Eve – Sydney Harbour, Australia
The visual of amazing fireworks behind the Sydney opera house is known to all of us and is definitely a festival to attend once in a lifetime. Millions of people across the world make their way into Sydney every year to be a part of this festival, and we think you should too. The festival features two pyrotechnic displays – the midnight fireworks and the 9pm family fireworks.
There are various vantage points from which the festival can be seen. There are maps available to see the suitable vantage point. The Sydney authority runs special buses, trains, ferry and light rail services to accommodate the crowd. If you love to do things with a difference, hire a boat, set sail, drop the anchor in the middle of the sea and see the fireworks from the other side of the land. This is a perfect festival to plan a proposal or give your loved one a surprise.
Have plans to do something like this? Just inform the team of Doodle Trip and see how we can add a world of difference to your otherwise mundane trip.
Doodle Trip is coming up with exciting packages to help you see these festivals in style. All you have to do is book a package, and leave the headache of planning and booking to us. If you have any special requirements, we will be more than happy to accommodate it.
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