Myanmar Festivals 2018

January

Kachin Manaw Festival - Kachin State

9 - 10 Jan 2019 (not sure)

Location: Myitkyina, Kachin State

Kachin is one of the states that hosts a wonderful festival known as Manaw. The Kachin, the mountain people or the ‘The Scottish People of Burma’ celebrate the Manaw festival. It is one of the most popular festivals in Myanmar. This festival has been held for more than three decades. The different versions of the Manaw festival celebrate the New Year, battle victories, the reunification of tribal groups and much more. Everyone in the town gets involved in the spiritual dance, in which people form a line one behind the other. The traditional Manaw columns are decorated with strikingly colourful Kachin images. They are located at the centre of the festival site. All those who come to the festival wear their best traditional dress. The main activity at the festival is the dance around the erected Manaw columns, very similar to the totem poles used by North American Indians. The Manaw festival takes place in Myitkyina and Putao, in the state of Kachin.

Naga New Year - Chin state

12 - 18 Jan 2019

Location: Leshi, Chin State

In Kham-Ti and the surrounding villages of Kham-Ti, the annual Naga New Year's Festival is held from 12 - 18 January. On 12 January, there is the opening ceremony of the Naga New Year Festival with various competitions and traditional sports, along with the coming together of the Naga subtribes. These were once feared warriors in their bright and exotic festival costumes, celebrating with rice wine and grilled meat and accompanied by ancient tribal dances and a loud drumbeat

ANANDA PAGODA FESTIVAL - Bagan

15 – 20 Jan 2019

Location: Bagan

The Ananda Pagoda Festival is held from 15 - 20 January. The entertainment includes Zats: A colourful round dance with singing, short and long theatre performances; Anyeints: open-air performances lasting several hours, during which comedians caricature current events. Traditional dances and popular films are shown in between. During the festival, there is also a popular market that takes place, where a variety of items and many local products are sold. An interesting feature of the festival is the caravan of ox carts on the grounds of the pagoda situated under the shade of trees. The most popular time to visit the festival is full moon day, on the 20th January.

February

MAHAMUNI-PAGODEN-FEST - Mandalay

5 – 19 Feb 2019

Location: Mandalay

The festival falls on the full moon day of Thabodwe and, as a rule, lasts for 14 days. Competitions are also held on the pagoda platform for the production of sticky rice (a delicacy in Myanmar). On the full moon day (19 February), a variety of incense sticks are lit in front of the Mahamuni pagoda. During these festivals, thousands of visitors make the pilgrimage to the Mahamuni pagoda. The pagoda is always the centre of activities. On a full moon day it explodes with energy. Evening entertainment like Zats (a variety of dances, song and short theatre performances) and Anyeints. The event lasts for several hours. Comedians also poke fun at current events. The event is broken up by traditional dances and open-air films. During the day, Burmese snacks are sold on small stands.

NYAN TAW PAGODA FESTIVAL (SHWE MYIN-ZINN-PAGODE) - MAYMYO (PYIN OO LWIN)

11 – 19 Feb 2019

Location: PYIN OO LWIN, MAYMYO

Similar to other pagoda festivals. It is one of the most popular festivals in Maymyo. Shan and other ethnic groups descend from the hills during the festival, to visit the festival or to buy its products.

GOLDEN HILLTOP FESTIVAL, KYAIK KHAUK PAGODA

14 – 20 Feb 2019

Location: KYAIK KHAUK

The Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Festival takes place from 14 - 20 February. Local produce, ceramic and all sizes of pottery items are available to buy at the many stands, along with furniture and bamboo mats. As with the majority of pagoda festivals, there is colourful evening entertainment on offer with Zats, Anyeints and stage shows. The locals from the surrounding area mostly arrive just before the full moon day (19 February) with their ox carts.

March

INDAWGYI FESTIVAL, HOPIN, IN MYITKYINA

13 – 20 March 2019

Location: MYITKYINA

Located approximately 200 km from Myitkyina, approx. five hour drive to Indawgyi. The festival is celebrated every year over 10 days. One impressive feature is the two sandbanks, which appear from the lake just in front of the festival, allowing people to pass from the riverbank to the pagoda. The locals reserve a sandbank for the people. The second passage is meant for the gods. Shortly after the festival, both sandbanks disappear again into the water.

BAW-GYO FESTIVAL, IN HSIPAW / SHAN STATE

14 – 30 March 2019

Location: SHAN STATE

Once a year and only during the festival days, the four figures of Buddha which are otherwise kept behind closed doors are brought out and newly gilded with gold leaf. There are products on sale from the tea-growing Palaung tribe and jewellers from Kyauk Me. Gambling, which is otherwise forbidden, is permitted during the festival.

PINDAYA CAVE FESTIVAL, PINDAYA

18 – 20 March 2019

Location: PINDAYA

During the festival at the Shwe Oo Min Pagoda Cave in Pindaya, thousands of believers besiege the cave to pay homage there. Hundreds of little stands offer delicious local food, Shan handicrafts, all types of ‘cheroots’ (Myanmar cigars), Shan umbrellas and much more. Diverse ethnic groups from across the Shan state visit the festival in their traditional costumes.

KEKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL, TAUNGGYI

18 – 20 March 2019

Location: TAUNGGYI

On the full moon day (20 March), the indigenous Pa-O come to give alms, dressed in their traditional black costumes. There is also a market during the festival days.

MAUNG DONG NAT FESTIVAL, MONYWA

25 March – 4 April 2019

Location: MONYWA

This festival is known as the most important gathering of witches imaginable. Legend has it that Ye Kin Kadaw, the Queen of witches and the favourite wife of King Taung U, had extraordinary powers. The king sent her into exile because her supernatural power was not liked by his other wives. She went to Maung Dong where she was drowned. Her oldest statue, only 30 cm high, can be visited in Maung Dong. During the festival, all 37 ‘Nats’ are placed in a shrine. Devotees offer whole bunches of bananas, green coconuts, betel beliefs, colourful arrangements of flowers and money.

April

THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL (THROUGHOUT MYANMAR)

13 – 16 April 2019

Location: Throughout the country

Before the Burmese New Year is celebrated, the three-day water festival is held. From morning to night, it is mostly young people who splash and pour water over one another, while elder people retreat into the monastery. There are copious celebrations for three days. People travel in open top cars through the city. There are many stages along the streets, where not only traditional dances are performed. Almost everything is closed during the festival days: restaurants, businesses, markets, museums etc. On Burmese New Year's Day, the people of Myanmar visit family and go together to the pagoda.

SHWEMAWDAW PAGODA FESTIVAL, BAGO

14 – 23 April 2019

Location: BAGO

It is similar to the other festivals, with typical evening entertainment involving Zats, Anyeints and stage shows. Typical Myanmar goods and everyday household items are sold at the market stalls around the pagoda.

June

Chinlone Festival ( Mahamuni Waso Festival) - Mandalay

18 - 28 June 2018

Location: Mahamuni Paya, Mandalay

Chinlone tournament held in Mandalay. It takes place in Mahamuni Pagoda compound almost a month for every day and night. Hundreds of teams of Chinlone players from all over the country come up to Mandalay to take part. Enjoy seeing several ways of playing Chinlone by either team or individual! Local music is being played to entertain the audience.Chinlone is an ancient sport, originated some 1500 years ago to the royal court of Myanmar. A team of 6 plays together in a small circle, using only their feet, knees, shoulders and heads, trying to not let the Chinlone, the small cane ball, touch the ground. There are more than 200 acrobatic moves, such as handstands, spinning kicks or backflips, used by the players to keep the Chinlone in the air in the most artistic and aesthetic way. August

August

SEVERAL NAT FESTIVALS AROUND MANDALAY: Shwe Kyun Pin Nat Pwe Mingun – Mingun

14 - 19 Aung 2018

Location: Mingun (near Mandalay)

After harvest time, hundreds of farmers, wearing colorful dresses, arrive with their beautifully decorated bullock carts at the Mya Thein Dan Pagoda. They build a big tent as temporary housing for the nat images. During these days the mediums perform Nat Dances in order to be granted a good harvest for the next season and to the delight of hundreds of spectators. River vessels, big and small, plying the Ayeyarwaddy to pay respect.

Taung Byone Nat Festival - Matara, Mandalay

19 - 26 Aug 2018

Location: Matara, Mandalay Region

This festival is known as the major gathering spot for spiritual mediums. Hundreds of mediums (Nat-Kadaw) and thousands of pilgrims come once a year to Taung Byone (where the statues of two brothers are placed in a shrine and there stands still the “Pagoda of Wishes” with the two missing stones). It is the most impressive Nat Festival in Myanmar. Offerings and dances, the inflow of merchants, the constant arrival of pilgrims and the intensive uses of loudspeakers continue day and night. The festival is held in honour of Byat Wi and Byat Ta, two Indian brothers, got extraordinary powers after they ate the body of a dead alchemist. Byat Wi, the older brother, lost his supernatural power, after he walked under a clothesline on which women’s skirts used in childbed had been hung. He was captured and died after his loved ones offered him a quid of betel and a cup of water. Byat Ta was killed by King Anawrahta’s magical lance, after he was again late to bring the fresh flowers from Mt. Popa for the Royal Audience, and thereupon his wife Popa Medaw also died from broken heart. 15 years later, the two sons of Byat Ta and Popa Medaw, which were adopted by King Anawratha, forgot to bring one brick each to build the “Pagoda of Wishes”. King Anawratha soon found out, who was responsible for this omission and gave the order to gently hit them with a fillet stick. As they were in the trap which the king’s son, Kyansittha, planned from beginning on, they were instead hardly hit with a bamboo stick and die

This festival is known as the major gathering spot for spiritual mediums. Hundreds of mediums (Nat-Kadaw) and thousands of pilgrims come once a year to Taung Byone (where the statues of two brothers are placed in a shrine and there stands still the “Pagoda of Wishes” with the two missing stones). It is the most impressive Nat Festival in Myanmar. Offerings and dances, the inflow of merchants, the constant arrival of pilgrims and the intensive uses of loudspeakers continue day and night. The festival is held in honour of Byat Wi and Byat Ta, two Indian brothers, got extraordinary powers after they ate the body of a dead alchemist. Byat Wi, the older brother, lost his supernatural power, after he walked under a clothesline on which women’s skirts used in childbed had been hung. He was captured and died after his loved ones offered him a quid of betel and a cup of water. Byat Ta was killed by King Anawrahta’s magical lance, after he was again late to bring the fresh flowers from Mt. Popa for the Royal Audience, and thereupon his wife Popa Medaw also died from broken heart. 15 years later, the two sons of Byat Ta and Popa Medaw, which were adopted by King Anawratha, forgot to bring one brick each to build the “Pagoda of Wishes”. King Anawratha soon found out, who was responsible for this omission and gave the order to gently hit them with a fillet stick. As they were in the trap which the king’s son, Kyansittha, planned from beginning on, they were instead hardly hit with a bamboo stick and die

He was captured and died after his loved ones offered him a quid of betel and a cup of water. Byat Ta was killed by King Anawrahta’s magical lance, after he was again late to bring the fresh flowers from Mt. Popa for the Royal Audience, and thereupon his wife Popa Medaw also died from broken heart. 15 years later, the two sons of Byat Ta and Popa Medaw, which were adopted by King Anawratha, forgot to bring one brick each to build the “Pagoda of Wishes”. King Anawratha soon found out, who was responsible for this omission and gave the order to gently hit them with a fillet stick. As they were in the trap which the king’s son, Kyansittha, planned from beginning on, they were instead hardly hit with a bamboo stick and die

September

Yadana Gu Nat Festival - Amarapura, Mandalay

3 - 9 Sep 2018

Location: Amarapura, Mandalay

Thousands gather for this eight day festival in the small town of Amarapura outside of Mandalay to honor the pantheon of animist spirits called Nats that are infused with Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. The celebration is led by hundreds of spirit mediums who are said to be possessed by the Nats during the ceremonies. The spirit mediums perform ritual dances and songs accompanied by a traditional Burmese orchestra as the festival goers make offerings of food, flowers, alcohol, and money to the Nats

Manuha Pagoda Festival - Myinkaba, Bagan

04- 06 September 2017 (not sure)

Location: Myinkaba Village, Bagan

A two day Pagoda festival with thriving festival market and a parade of local people, carrying paper mache images of the Jataka Tales, the stories of Buddha’s incarnations.

October

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival - Inle Lake

10 - 27 Oct 2018

Location: Inle Lake, Shan State.

This festival is the most important and largest Buddhist celebration at Inle Lake. Watch the procession of leg-rowed boats, which are ceremoniously tugging four golden Buddha statues situated on a royal barge clockwise around Inle Lake. Throughout the event leg-rowed boat races are being held and you will come across them during the excursion on the lake. Hundreds of other vessels travel in the entourage in a general festive atmosphere. Thousands of people from around the Shan State attend this most holy of all Shan celebrations.

Dummy Elephant Festival – Kyauk Se, Mandalay

23 - 25 Oct 2018

Location: Kyauk Se

This unique and exotic elephant dance is held at Kyauk Se, a small town not farfrom Mandalay. A huge but light elephant figure is made with bamboo and paper. Men take their places inside the figure and dance around the town to the accompaniment of Dobat and Drums. The elephant dancers circle three times at the foot of the hill to pay homage to the Shwethalyaung Pagoda. It is a dance that requires precise rhythm and timing in order for the elephant dancers to maintain uniformity inside the elephant figure. Numerous life-size paper dummy elephants sing and dance to the accompaniment of music.

Thidingyut Festival (Festival of Lights)

23 - 26 Oct 2018

Location: Throughout the country

To mark 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 are various kinds of activities for everyone to enjoy. Thadingyut is not only for joyous but also thanksgiving and paying homage to Buddhist monks, teachers, parents and elders, and asking pardon for whatever misdeeds might have committed.

November

Robe Weaving Contest - Yangon

22 Nov 2018

Location: Shwedagon, Botataung, Kyaikkasan and elsewhere

Young women take part in competitions of weaving a robe for the Buddha statues, held on the platforms of the pagodas. They compete in making a robe that has to be finished flawlessly overnight and offer them at dawn to the images of Buddha around the Pagoda.

Tazaungdine Light Festival

21 - 25 Nov 2018

Location: Throughout the country

This festival marks the end of monsoon. Everywhere in the country candles are being lighted and fireworks are being set off. During the evening every electric light throughout the country is being switched off, replaced by candles to celebrate. Myanmar celebrates this night with various kinds of illuminations. The liveliest places are Yangon and Mandalay and Taunggyi, Shan State, see below.

Balloon Flying Festival - Taunggyi

16 - 22 Nov 2018

Location: Taunggyi, Shan State

This Taunggyi special Tazaungdine Festival, held in Taunggyi, the capital of Shan State is locally known as the Lu Ping Festival, a festival of the Pa O tribal community. A hot air balloon competition takes place, consisting of a daytime and nighttime contests. Huge and skillful made paper balloons in the shapes of animals or pagodas or, at night, of chandeliers with beautiful fireworks are floated up in the sky.>

Shwezigon Festival - Bagan

19 - 22 Nov 2018

Location: Bagan

Shwezigone Pagoda Festival is one of the liveliest pagoda festivals in Central Myanmar, a mix between Buddhist ceremony, fair and country marketplace.On full moon day candles and fireworks are being offered to the pagoda, carried in big processions and alms bowls are being offered to the monks of the nearby monasteries, what are nearly 600.There are evening entertainments as well, such as Zats: (a variety of dances, songs, short and long plays) and Anyeints (a performance of a few hours in which a number of “jokers” caricature current situations and or person strung together by a traditional dancer), popular movies are being shown in open air.

Kyaikhtio Pagoda Festival of Nine Thousands Lights (Golden Rock) - Mon State

22 Nov 2018

Location: Kyaikthio, Mon State

Kyaikthio Pagoda is the third most important Buddhist sacred site in Myanmar. Thousands of Buddhists come here to welcome the new year lighting 9999 candles.The pagoda itself has just a small size but stands on top of a huge gold covered Granite boulder that balances on the edge of a summit ridge, defying gravity.

December

Shwe Myat Mhan Pagoda Festival - Shwetaung near Pyay

15 - 22 Dec 2018

Location: Shwetaung

This pagoda festival is similar to others pagoda festivals in Myanmar. According to legends,during the British time; Mrs. Hurtno wife of the commissioner was relieved from her eye disease after she offered a pair of glasses to the Buddha. Local people who live around this area believe that whoever have a problem with eyes can get remedy by worshipping this Buddha.

Mount Popa Nat Spirit Festival - Mt. Popa

22 Dec 2018

Location: Mount Popa, near Bagan

Typical Nat festival, honoring the 37 Nats by performing rituals dances and songs and theater performances and by gifts of liquor.Nats are nature spirits, being worshipped by many of the Myanmar people not just in the past when they were animists but also today. Animist beliefs where integrated into Buddhism so Nat statues can be found in Buddhist temples very often as well.The Nats are spirits of natural forces, such as water, wind, stones and trees.Most of the Myanmar people do pay some attention to them and regard the Nat worship as a method of dealing with this life, whereas Buddhism is concerned with future lives.

Akha New Year Festival - Keng Tung, Shan State

28 Dec 2018 (not sure)

Location: Keng Tung, Shan State

The Akha minority people are famous for their colorful and intricate silver coin studded head geards and traditional clothing.They gather once a year in Keng Tung in eastern Shan State to celebrate the Akha New Year.On New Year’s Eve day Akha tribe members of all age gather at a big football ground for singing and dancing. On the following New Year’s Day all the participants take part in an auspicious breakfast and lunch to mark and wish for a prosperous New Year.

Ananda Pagoda Festival – Bagan

27 Dec 2017 - 1 Jan 2018

Location: Ananda Pagoda, Bagan.

The Ananda Pagoda Festival is the largest annual celebration throughout center and upper Myanmar. This 15 day event is as well a Buddhist Festival with ancient Buddhist customs and the annual alms giving time for this region as a lively harvest festival and a country fair.Worth seeing is the huge procession of traditional bullock carts that brings people from around Bagan to the pagoda grounds. These villagers make camps for the whole time of the festival. The public is being entertained by famous local theatrical troupes. Stores are selling everything from foodstuff to agricultural products.In the evening of Fullmoon Day of Pyatho the pilgrims make their donations to the monks, lined up in an immense number to reverently pass it to them.