Whenever you decide on a Myanmar holiday, there is a good chance that there will be a festival at some time during your visit; there are festivals and special events right around the year. Most of them are held right across the country. The lunar calendar decides the specific dates each year and they are known in advance. If you are planning a Myanmar family tour in the next twelve months, then the dates will already be decided.
Here are some of the important events that may help you to decide the time of year you want to visit and the Myanmartravel itinerary you want to follow.
• Elephant Dance Festival held in Kyaukse, just south of Mandalay.The elephants are made of bamboo, cloth and paper, beautifully decorated. There are two men within the figure and they find it very tiring. There is a competition for the best dancers and if at all possible tourists should try to attend to see this colourful and amusing event.
• Full Moon Day of Thadingyut marks the end of Lent in Myanmar which lasts three months. This ‘’Festival of Lights’’ will usually be in the seventh month of the Burmese calendar.Many will have fasted for three months since the beginning of lent and often not done any travelling. This is then a real excuse to celebrate and the celebrations will be in every town and village.
• Tazaungdaing Festival is 6 days before the November full moon (Tazaungmone).There are three parts to the festival with the hot air balloon competition. By day the balloons may be in the shape of a pagoda, an elephant or dragon.At night, they may just be coloured lanterns.There will be plenty of eating, drinking and gambling as music is played, largely with drums.
• Kayin New Year Festival is regarded as the national day and is on the first day of Pyatho (moon month). Kayins are the second largest ethnic group and they live in Lower Myanmar. However, there are celebrations of Kayin culture throughout the country and can last for several days.
• Myanmar Waso Festival or Lenten Season begins lent, the 4th lunar month, generally July. It is a sacred month when Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. Monks will generally stay indoors from this point onwards, studying and meditating.
• Phaungdaw U Pagoda Festival takes place around Lake Inle amongst the stilted villages. This is the most famous pagoda in Myanmar. The festival lasts 18 days and includes rowing competitions with people coming to the Lake from all over the country. It is a wonderful occasion for tourists on Myanmar travel packages to experience.
• The Kason Festival in May when water is at its lowest level and the days are long.People pour water around the Maha-Bodhi tree to keep it alive and at pagodas.
• Thingyan is the Burmese New Year Water Festival around mid-April and is held across South East Asia and those on Indochina tour packages may well see it on the Mekong in other countries. Locals aim to wash their sins away; the tradition goes back to the 13th Century. Everyone tries to go back to their villages to visit their families if they live in the city.
You can see from this list that there are many celebrations in Myanmar so even though rural life can be hard there are times when hardship is forgotten. The justification for these events are largely religious but they are certainly a time to have fun. When you are thinking about visiting Myanmar look for a time when you can enjoy one of these occasions.