Myanmar Festivals 2019

January

KACHIN MANAW-FEST, MYITKYINA

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 FESTIVAL, Sagaing Division

12 – 18 Jan 2019

Location: Sagaing

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 (not sure)

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.

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 festiva

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.

April

THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL

13 - 16 April, 2019

Location: Throughout Myanmar

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.