The World Festival » Asia Discovery the world by Festival Tue, 14 Apr 2015 02:51:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Songkran Photos Gallery Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:15:35 +0000 April 13–15 sees the people of Thailand mark their New Year with traditional Buddhist rituals, crowded parades, modern festivities, and enough water throwing to quell numerous forest fires. The city of Chiang Mai exhibits a particularly fervent celebration with the whole city turning into a battleground for water fights.
The Songkran festival marks the end of the dry season and the water tossing serves to provide more than just laughs. April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand and getting wet is a welcome respite from the 40-degree temperatures. But more than anything, it’s an immense amount of fun. Engaging in the anarchic, joyous, hilarious water fights is some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

This chaos runs concurrently with traditional, beautiful, and serene Buddhist rituals that contrast with the wild, inescapable soakings of the water fights. One moment, worshippers are making offerings to Buddhist monks, and soon after, they’re dousing each other with ice water or jumping into one of the city’s moats. It’s an extraordinary party.

Songkran Water fights Songkran water dousing Beautiful girl in water fighting - Songkran Thailand Beautiful Thai girl in water fighting - Songkran Thailand 2 Guys with water in Chiang Mai Jumping to Chiang Mai ditch Water dousing in Thailand Songkran Water gun Dousing water at Chiang Mai Songkran Water fighting Looking at the big festival in Thailand Thai water fighting Songkran Thailand Fighting water A wet boy in Songkran Juping to river Chiang Mai A little water combatant Water fighitng at Songkran Buddha stutue Thai Dance in New Year Thai coins in Songkran Pagoda in Songkran Thai Dancing in Songkran Beautiful woman in Songkran Bringing Buddha statue Buddha statue in Songkran Beautiful Thai girl in Umbrella - Miss Songkran Little child Daughter and Mom Songkran Monks Monks in Chiang Mai A girl giving charity in new year Waiting for giving charity Little girl with candle in Songkran Thailand [:en]A woman with umbrella[:vi]Một người phụ nữ với chiếc ô[:de]Eine Frau mit Regenschirm[:zh]一个女人的保护伞[:fr]Une femme avec un parasol [:en]A woman in Songkran[:vi]Một phụ nữ ở Songkran[:de]Eine Frau in Songkran[:zh]一个女人在泼水节[:fr]Une femme dans Songkran [:en]Monk in Songkran[:vi]Một tu sĩ trong lễ Songkran[:de]Monk in Songkran[:zh]和尚在泼水节[:fr]Monk dans Songkran An ads image for Songkran Street at Songkran Local boy and tourist play water together Buddha


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Songkran – Water Festival – Thai New Year Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:16:20 +0000 Songkran is a traditional festival celebrated on the 13th, 14th and 15th of April in Thailand which is when the year starts. In this festival, residents get to throw water at each other.

This act has remained just as is since time memorial. It is not adapting to any changes despite technological advances or any change for it to be used as advertising media. It is still about throwing of water and there are no signs of changing it.

It is always a long awaited festival by the entire country and they are always welcoming guests. This celebration is for all despite age of cultural beliefs. Be it the elderly or the young, you can be sure to bring out the youth in you during the water fight.
Beautiful girl Songkran in Thailand
Songkran water festival is intense and unless you are prepared and equipped for it, it is advisable that you stay indoors. Taking image is about impossible for close-ups as the gear may get damaged. From a safe distance, you could zoom in to take photos for memories sake.

Some of the venues that hold wild songkran Thailand festival water fights include the Khaosan Road and Chiang Mai. In combination with the entire country, Songkran provides the largest water fight the world will ever come to know.

All the country’s cities take on this holiday seriously. You will find individuals on scooters with water guns and others lined up with sufficient supply of water. Other will strategically place themselves on pickup trucks. It is all about survival for the fittest. In addition to plain water, the inclusion of ice tends to notch things up.

Songkran water festival
During these periods, it is very hot and this is probably one of the best days as the temperatures are lowered. Even the ice has nothing on you as the patrol truck supply the ice.However, ice-cold water is not part of the festivities on this day. It is either water or ice and not frozen water. The aspect of the holiday is to have fun and not raise the possibilities of risk whether physical or medical.

These festivities take up to three days. In these three days, anyone can pour water on you at any time they so wish. Initially, once the skies darkened, the water fight seized. Currently, they even start earlier so they get started a day before the indicated celebrations. From a distance, you would think that all the activities were out of hand but once you get a hang of things, you get to realize that the situation is actually under control. It is not a war but a celebration.

In the event that you get caught up and you had luggage on you, all you need do is hold your luggage over your head. You will notice that throwing water has its limits. They can only soak you in water but remain respectful with each other’s property.

Other than property, there are situations that were understandable. For example, if you have a cast for an injury or you are on a wheel chair, you are an exempt and so are the aged. Children on the other hand get to enjoy the fun but are treated as such. Their festivities are gentle. Teamwork is also inevitable as you watch family members arm themselves.

Songkran by elephant Thailand

At the Romans, do as they do and while in Thailand during this season, loosen up and enjoy the festivities even if you are a foreigner. You may back out in the beginning but once you get the hang of things, you are more likely to embrace enjoy the moment.

If you are not up to the festivities, it is advisable that you do not get out on the streets as once you are out in the street; you are definitely calling for a water fight.

Thailand is rated one of the safest countries and it is important that you do not provoke anyone. You getting soaked for Songkran is not a reason to destroy the prevailing peace.

Songkran Thailand
Between the 11th and the 15th, the number of deaths, injuries and road accidents tend to increase. This is because it tends to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Even with an effort to try and control these numbers with the government insisting on road safety, the numbers turned out almost similar as the previous years. Currently, the government must identify a long-term effect as the short-term solution did not bear fruit. Until there is a solution, tourists are advised to remain indoors avoiding the festivities or getting soaked.

In this, unless you are up to the festivities, it is best you find another destination to cool off. On the other hand, if you are up to trying the Songkran festivities, you may live to remember the lovely memories, sometimes, some individuals mix the water with methylated talc which leaves you looking white.

One of the side effects is damaged smart phones due to exposure to water. This has led to the destruction of Android and iOS devices. If you are going to attend the festivities, protect your devices. The right preparation prevents losses of any king and guarantees fun moments all through the three days. It may cost you extra but it is worth it.

Songkran Thai New Year Festival

During this season, there are those who do not mind the water and look at it as a business opportunity. In this, you will find vendors moving around trying to sell you plastic bags. These bags prevent the water from getting into the stores devices or equipment.

While it may simple to talk about the activities of Songkran, but taking images for remembrance can be a difficult task. Trying to take photos while protecting the equipment is a risk that many people are not willing to take.

Take a bath for Buddha at Songkran

However, if you gain access to the right protective gear, your may take on some photos.

The Songkran festival water fight marks great history in Thailand. It does not discriminate and as long as you are fit, you can break a leg and outdo yourself. Get someone soaked and live the Thailand dream, happy songkran !

Do’s & Don’ts in Songkran

– Do
Do use waterproof bags to protect your valuables
Do watch your belongings
Do use public transportation if you are heading to one of Songkran ‘hotspots’, as traffic will be paralyzed
Do try wishing the locals a happy new year in Thai – “Sawasdee Pee Mai!”
Do smile and have fun

– Do not
Do not douse monks, babies or the elderly
Do not drive when you have been drinking
Do not throw water with ice or dirty water
Do not throw water at motorcyclists, to prevent road accidents

Songkran Photo Gallery

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Vietnamese Tet Festival Sun, 22 Feb 2015 17:28:19 +0000 The festival which best epitomizes Vietnam’s cultural identity is Vietnamese New Year or Tet, which is the phonetic deformation of “Tiet”, a Sino Vietnamese term which means “Joint of a bamboo stern” and in a wider sense, the “beginning of a period of the year”. The passage from one period to the next may cause a meteorological disturbance (heat, rain, mist) that must be exercised by ritual sacrifices and festivities. There are many Tets throughout the year (Mid-autumn Vietnamese New Year, Cold Food Vietnamese New Year, etc.). But the most significant of all is “Vietnamese New Year”, which marks the Lunar New Year.

TET, Vietnamese New Year, occurs somewhere in the last ten days of January or the first twenty days of February, nearly halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. This year (2010), Vietnam celebrates Tet on Feb 14th as the first day of the Lunar New Year. Although the Lunar New Year is observed throughout East Asia, each country celebrates Vietnamese New Year in its own way in conformity with its own national psyche and cultural conditions.

For the Vietnamese people, Vietnamese New Year is like a combination of Western Saint Sylvester, New Year’s Day, Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. It is the festival of Purity and Renewal.

Vietnamese New Year Customs

1. Clean and decorate the home

Homes are often cleaned and decorated before New Year’s Eve. Children are in charge of sweeping and scrubbing the floor. The kitchen needs to be cleaned before the 23rd night of the last month. Usually, the head of the household cleans the dust and ashes (from incense) from the ancestral altars. It is a common belief that cleaning the house will get rid of the bad fortunes associated with the old year. Some people would paint their house and decorate with festive items.

2. Literally means “getting new clothes”
This is often the most exciting part of the Vietnamese New Year among children. Parents usually purchase new clothes and shoes for their children a month prior to the New Year. However, children cannot wear their new clothes until the first day of the New Year and onward. The best outfit is always worn on the first day of the year.

3. Farewell ceremony for the Kitchen Gods (Ong Tao)


Seven days (the 23rd night of the last lunar month) prior to Tet, each Vietnamese family offers a farewell ceremony for Ong Tao to go up to Heaven Palace. His task is to make an annual report to the Jade Emperor of the family’s affairs throughout the year.

However, in a literal translation, it means “Passage from the Old to the New Year”. It is a common belief among Vietnamese people that there are 12 Sacred Animals from the Zodiac taking turn monitoring and controlling the affairs of the earth. Thus, Giao Thua (New Year’s Eve) is the moment of seeing the old chief (Water Buffalo for 2009) end his ruling term and pass his power to the new chief (Tiger for 2010). Giao Thua is also the time for Ong Tao (Kitchen God) to return to earth after making the report to the Jade Emperor. Every single family should offer an open-air ceremony to welcome him back to their kitchen.

5. The aura of the earth
Giao Thua is the most sacred time of the year. Therefore, the first houseguest to offer the first greeting is very important. If that particular guest has a good aura (well respected, well educated, successful, famous, etc.), then the family believes that they will receive luck and good fortune throughout the year. The belief of “Xong Dat” still remains nowadays, especially among families with businesses.


6. Apricot flowers and peach flowers

Flower buds and blossoms are the symbols for new beginning. These two distinctive flowers are widely sold and purchased during Tet. Hoa Mai are the yellow apricot flowers often seen in Southern Viet Nam. Hoa Mai are more adaptable to the hot weather of southern regions, thus, it is known as the primary flower in every home. Hoa Dao are the warm pink of the peach blossoms that match well with the dry, cold weather from the North. Tet is not Tet if there is no sight of Hoa Mai (south) or Hoa Dao (north) in every home.



7. Giving away red envelopes (filled with lucky money)

This is a cultural practice that has been maintained for generations. The red envelopes symbolize luck and wealth. It is very common to see older people giving away sealed red envelopes to younger people. Reciprocally, the older ones would return good advice and words of wisdom, encouraging the younger ones to keep up with the schoolwork, live harmoniously with others, and obey their parents.

This greeting ritual and Li Xi is also known as Mung Tuoi, honoring the achievement of another year to one’s life.

8. Making offers for the ancestors

This ceremony is held on the first day of the New Year before noontime. The head of the household should perform the proper ritual (offering food, wine, cakes, fruits, and burn incense) to invite the souls of the ancestors to join the celebration with the family. This is the time families honor the souls of their ancestors and present the welfare of the family.


4. New Year’s Eve

Vietnamese New Year Decorations

1. The plate of five fruits

A plate filled with five types of fruits sits on the ancestor’s altar in every Vietnamese home during the New Year. The fruits are colorful and meaningful. They make New Year more lively and sacred. In Asian mythology, the world is made of five basic elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. The plate of fruits on the family altar at New Year is one of several ways to represent this concept. The plate of fruits also represents the desire for good crops and prosperity.

fruit in tet

The plate of fruits traditionally contains five to eight types: a bunch of bananas, a grapefruit, “Buddha’s-hand” fruit, a lemon, oranges, tangerines, apples, or persimmons. Families choose only the best looking fruit, which are arranged in a pyramid. This practice has changed with modern lifestyles. Other fruits such as sapodilla, watermelons, coconuts, and custard apples may be added to the plate. Some families even use flowers and small colored electric lights to decorate the plate.

The names of these fruits in Vietnam echo words signifying prayers for wealth. The plate of fruits gives the family altar a cozy and colorful look. It helps to stress the importance of family traditions and family life.

2. Parallel sentences

On New Year’s Day, every home liked to have a pair of parallel sentences composed and written by a scholar on red paper and hung in the place of honor, usually on both sides of the entrance door or of the ancestors’ altar.

Here are two pairs of well-known, old New Year parallel sentences:

“Fat meat, pickled onions, red parallel sentences
New Year pole, strings of firecrackers, green Chung cake.”

On the New Years’ Eve, pay debts on all sides; bending your legs, kick out poverty. On New Years’ day, rice wine makes your drunk; stretching your arms, carry in wealth.

3. The New Year tree

In the countryside, preparations come to and end with the raising of the New Year tree or Cay Neu in Vietnamese. The New Year tree is a piece of a bamboo five or six yards long is stripped bare excerpt for a little bunch of leaves. Near the top is suspended a round bamboo frame holding a few little fish and bells made of baked clay that tinkle softly in the wind. Beneath this frame are votive gifts and some thorny branches. At the top of the New Year tree, a small kerosene lamp is lit at night.

The New Year tree marks the way for the ancestor’s spirits who came back from the other world to enjoy New Year with the living. Evil spirits are scared away by the thorns and the tinkling of the bells. Other precautions are also taken: villagers use lime powder to sketch a drawn bow on their courtyards. The arrows of the bow are supposed to frighten away evil spirits.

4. Traditional Tet painting

The prints are used to carry on the cultural history of Vietnam, passed on at the welcoming of each Lunar New Year to younger generations through story telling.

Vietnamese New Year Foods

One of the most traditional special foods for New Year (Tet) of Vietnamese is Banh Chung or sticky rice cake. Banh Chung is made of sticky rice, pork meat and green bean, every ingredient is wrapper inside a special leaf which calls Dong. Making the Banh Chung requires care and precision in every step. The rice and green bean has to be soaked in water for a day to make it stickier. The pork meat is usually soaked with pepper for several hours. Squaring off and tying the cakes with bamboo strings require skillful hands to make it a perfect square.

Banh Chung is a must among other foods to be placed on the ancestors’ altars during Tet holiday. In the old time, one or two days before Tet, every family prepares and cooks the Banh Chung around the warm fire. It is also the time for parents to tell their children folklore stories. Nowadays, families which live in villages still maitain making Banh Chung before New Years but the people in the city does not. They don’t have time and prefer to go to the shop to buy it.

Kumquat the lucky tree in Tet Apricot Take spring to home New cloth welcome tets vietnamese family during tet festival Clean home to welcome tet Cooking banh chung in Tet Vietnamese mum and daughter in Tet Vietnamese making banh chung Flower garden at Dong Thap Vietnam Come and wishing for grand father and grand mother ceremony Farawell ong tao Waiting for the bus to home Fruit in tet Vietnamese Calligraphy in Tet holiday Banh chung tet Li xi (lucky money) Go out in spring Vietnam To make banh chung in Tet cherryblossom Make banh Tet in the South of Vietnam ]]> 0
Gion Festival Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:56:58 +0000 The Gion Festival is perhaps Japan’s best known festival. Running the entire month of July each year — it’s also one of the longest.

The festival is named after Kyoto’s Gion district. Gion is Japan’s most exclusive Geisha entertainment district. However, most of the festival’s main events don’t take place in Gion.

Gion Matsuri party

Gion Matsuri Japanese festival

Gion is Japans best festival

Gion festival rain or shine

Gion Festival geisha and fan

Dating in Japan lets go to the festival

Cute Japanese children at the gion festival in Kyoto Japan








Junk Parade
The peak of the festival are the Yamaboko Junk parades on July 17th and July 24th.
The streets of Gion are reserved for pedestrian traffic for the three days (July 14-16) leading up to the parade. Vendors offer festival snacks and games on the streets during these days. Many people attend dressed in traditional yukata.





Parade Masters
The festival’s Yamaboko Junk floats weight up to 12,000 kg (26,500 pounds). It’s a lot of work to get them down the street. It can also be dangerous.

Parade masters are in charge of everything. It’s a real engineering project to get the floats down the streets.

Geisha, Maiko and Tayu
Gion Matsuri is perhaps Japan’s best event for geisha enthusiasts and photographers seeking candid photos of Geisha and Maiko.


You might even see one of Kyoto’s more exotic traditions. Here’s an older photo of a Tayu at the festival. Tayu is the top rank of Kyoto courtesan.

There’s genki night life surrounding the festival events.







Police show up in force for the festival but there’s not much to do.


If you attend — be sure to where a yukata. It will make you feel like you’re part of the festivities.


Parade participants wear a variety of traditional costumes.

Major festival events including the parades are held to the southwest of Kyoto City Hall. The area is accessible from several stations including Karasuma-oike, Kyoto Shiyakushomae, Kawaramachi and Karasuma.

The main parades take place in the evening of July 17th and July 24th. Minor festival events span most the month of July.

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Tokushima Awa Odori Festival Sat, 13 Sep 2014 20:03:19 +0000 Each year more than 100,000 festivals take place in Japan. Of these, the Tokushima Awa Dance Festival is the best.

The people of Tokushima (on Shikoku island) put their all into the festival. They’ve even named the airport after it: Awa Odori Airport.

Many people who call Tokushima their hometown (working in Tokyo and other large cities) return home for the festival. The festival also attracts large numbers of domestic and international tourists. In total, around 1.3 million people flock to Tokushima prefecture for the Awa Odori (the population of Tokushima City is only 263,372).

The Tokushima Awa Odori is held from August 12th to 15th as part of the area’s Obon festival (a Japanese Buddhist festival that honors the spirits of ancestors). Obon festivals in the area have incorporated dance for many centuries. In the Edo-era, Tokushima’s Obon festival was famous for its size, energy and rowdiness .

With time a unique dance style emerged in Tokushima: Awa dance. Awa is the old name for the region.
Great smile

Ladies in festival

Dance in Odori festival

Samurai Can’t Dance

The Tokushima Awa Odori began in 1586 when the local Daimyo hosted a drunken party to celebrate the opening of Tokushima Castle. It soon became an annual event. The Edo-era rules for the event are interesting:

Dancing in the streets is permitted for only three days.
Samurai are forbidden to attend the festival. They may dance at home but must keep their gate shut. No quarrels, arguments or misbehavior are allowed.
Dancing is prohibited at all temple properties.
It’s forbidden for dancers or attendees to carry swords or wear masks.
The Samurai of Tokushima may be gone but the but the festival is still a massive city-wide dance party.

Beautiful Japanese girl

Play Japan music

Tokushima awa odori girls with smile


Awa Odori Tokushima

The dancers and crowd often sing (or chant) the Awa Yoshikono, a traditional song associated with the festival that goes like this:

Odoru ahou ni (踊る阿呆に) ~ The dancers are fools
Miru ahou (見る阿呆) ~ The watchers are fools
Onaji ahou nara (同じ阿呆なら) ~ Both are fools alike so
Odorana son, son (踊らな損、損) ~ Why not dance?

It’s also common to chant sounds (with no meaning) such as Yoi, yoi, yoi, yoi!

The Awa dance is characterized by irregular steps (said to have its origins in the drunken history of the festival). There are daytime and nighttime versions of the dance. The daytime version is restrained and elegant. The nighttime version is frenzied and energetic.

There are also different Awa dances for men and women. Spectators are encouraged to join the dances.

The downtown core of Tokushima is closed to traffic on the nights of the festival. The festival runs approximately 18:00 to 23:00 each evening. There are seven stages in the festival area with reserved seating available at four of the stages. Tickets can be purchased onsite, at the tourist information center in front of Tokushima Station or at convenience stores in the area.

There are also plenty of free spots to view the festival from the street. However, the dance groups are at their best on the stages.

Keep in mind that the festival attracts over one million people to the town of Tokushima. Hotels in the area book up early. It’s also possible to stay in towns in the area such as Takamatsu (1 hour). Alternatively, it’s possible to visit the festival from Osaka or Kobe (both about 2 hours).

The festival is spread over a wide area between the Awa Odori Museum and Tokushima Station.

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Asakusa Samba Carnival Sat, 13 Sep 2014 07:52:38 +0000 The Asakusa Samba Carnival, also call Japan Carnival is one of Tokyo’s more lively and popular summer festivals. It attracts 500,000 visitors each year.

The festival has been held at the end of August since 1981. The one exception was 2011 when the festival was canceled due to the impact of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.
Asakusa Samba Matsuri

Japanese beautiful face
Samba is a surprisingly common hobby in Tokyo. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan. As a result, there are strong cultural ties between the two countries.

The parade features thousands of musicians and dancers in elaborate costumes. It’s led by the Queen of the Drums (Rainha de Bateria) who can be recognized by her ornate costume (and sash).

Brazilian Samba in Japan Matsuri

 Japan Matsuri

Japanese Samba

Japanese Dancer
The Asakusa Samba Carnival is a team dance competition with around 20 teams competing. Each dance team is led by their prospective candidates for next year’s Queen of the Drums. These group leaders bear flags and have the most lavish costumes of each team.

Japanese Girl in cloths

Red sexy Japanese girl


The parade is a short walk from Tawaramachi Station or Asakusa Station on Umamichi Street and Kaminarimon Street near Sensoji Temple.

Japanese Street in Festival

Asakusa samba karnaval

The beauty Japanese

Blue and White Japanese girl in Carnival

White angel Japanese

Samba in Japan

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Trung Thu – Mid Autumn Mon, 08 Sep 2014 09:18:45 +0000 Vietnamese children look forward to the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, when they celebrate Trung Thu, a mid-fall festival commemorating the moon at its brightest and most beautiful. Traditionally, the festival also marked the end of harvest, and parents who had been hard at work in the fields enjoyed spending extra time with their children and lavishing gifts on them.

Vietnamese paper lantern

The children wear colorful masks and dance in the streets with star lanterns that are illuminated by candles. The lanterns, which are made out of bamboo and plastic, represent the moon.

Mid Autumn moon cake
The children also feast on moon cakes. Shaped like fish or flowers, the sweet cakes are filled with sugar and meat or eggs.
Hoian lantern

During Trung Thu, Vietnamese also remember relatives who have died. They light incense and burn fake money as tributes to them. Somewhere in the country, people hangs ballon lantern in Mid Autumn nights, and there are some lantern festivals in travel town such as Hoi An, Hue.

There are two big festivals of lantern in Vietnam, at Tets (new year eve) and mid-autumn holiday.

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Obon Lantern Festival Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:28:35 +0000 Obon is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples.
Obon festival in Japan

Bon dance

Obon festival in Tokyo

Obon festival

Obon lanterns in river
At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region.

Obon is observed from the 13th to the 15th day of the 7th month of the year, which is July according to the solar calendar. However, since the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Obon is still observed in mid August in many regions of Japan, while it is observed in mid July in other regions.

The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan’s three major holiday seasons, accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates. In recent years, travel activitiy in mid August has become somewhat more spread out and less concentrated, but it is still considerable on certain days.
Candy in obon Festival
Traffic Situation – Obon 2015

In 2015, the peak of the Obon travel season is anticipated to take place between August 8 and August 16. The busiest days are expected to be August 8, 12 and 13 with people leaving big cities and August 15 and 16 with people returning to the big cities.

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Monkey Buffet Festival Sun, 31 Aug 2014 08:32:49 +0000 The Monkey Buffet Festival is quite an unique Festival in the very cultural country of Thailand. Set up in the province of Lopburi, North of Bangkok, the Monkey Buffet Festival is held for the benefit of the monkeys. 4000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables, cakes, candies is set down in front of temples on tables, in pyramid or just on a simple mat for the delight of the 3000 monkeys living in the area.
monkey buffet festival

monkey buffet festival

monkey buffet festival

monkey buffet festival

monkey buffet festival

monkey buffet festival
The Monkey Buffet Festival also host plenty of activities in relation with monkeys: music and dances with young people dress like monkeys, monkeys costumes, monkey masks… Monkey sculptures will also flourish around the area.

The Festival was invented in 1989 by a local business man in order to boost the tourism in the Lopburi province. Since thousand of visitors come every year to see the numerous monkeys filling they stomachs.

The temples where the festival is held have been build in the 10th century by the Khmer dynasty with a similar architecture from Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Now, they belong to the Monkey territory.

A word of wisdom: these monkey are very accustomed to human presence and they won’t hesitate a second to climb on people and “borrow” valuable or food for an undefined period of time.

When: Monkey Buffet Festival falls on November

For a fun festival with a difference, and one that is unique to Thailand, why not visit the ancient town of Lopburi in November when it holds the annual Monkey Buffet Festival? And yes, you’re quite right in what you’re thinking: a Monkey Buffet Festival is exactly what it sounds like!

Let’s start off with a little history about Lopburi before we get on to its most famous residents though. Lopburi is the capital of Lopburi province and is situated about 180 kilometers (approximately 111 miles) north east of the Thai capital, Bangkok. It is one of the oldest settlements in Thailand and it is said that the town was founded over 1000 years ago by King Kalavarnadish who came from a region in Northwest India – now modern day Pakistan. When the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was established in the fourteenth century Lopburi became a stronghold of Ayutthaya’s rulers and was designated the royal capital during the reign of King Narai the Great during the middle part of the 17th century. King Narai would thenceforth stay in Lopburi for around eight months of the year.

These days, however, Lopburi is not so much a royal capital but the home to hoards of monkeys – correctly known as Crab-Eating Macaques or Long Tailed Macaques. It probably comes as no great surprise to learn that this particular breed of monkey has both a long tail (typically longer than its body) and also likes crabs! A regular sized adult is 38 to 55cm long with comparatively short arms and legs however its tail is typically 40 to 65cm. The male macaques are a lot larger than the females, weighing in at around 5 to 9 kilograms whilst the females weigh approximately 3 to 6 kg.

Crab Eating Macaques are found across Southeast Asia where they live in groups of up to twenty female monkeys, their offspring, and any number of males, although each group normally contains less males than females: for these monkeys, the female is the boss! Despite the name, the monkeys do not live purely on a diet of crab, in fact it’s not even their main source of food and they exist by living on a range of different plants and animals. It seems that the Crab Eating Macaque is not a fussy eater as although 90% of their diet consists of seeds and fruit, they are also more than happy to eat virtually anything they can get their paws on including flowers, leaves, roots and even tree bark. They will also occasionally add some meat to their diet by feasting on baby birds, nesting female birds and their eggs plus lizards, frogs and fish.

Having said all that, the monkeys of Lopburi have co-existed alongside humans for so long now that they’re not afraid of, or averse to, snatching tuna sandwiches or a paw full of noodles from the plates of people dining al fresco either! The locals actually regard the monkeys as somewhat of a nuisance – there are over 3000 of them living downtown side by side with the town’s human residents – but they are undeniably a good source of income as they do bring in the tourist trade.
Although the Kingdom of Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist (around 95% of Thai people define themselves as Buddhists) the monkeys have a history which is rooted in Hinduism. In the 10th century the Khmer Dynasty built many Hindu temples, and if you have been to Cambodia and visited Angkor Wat you will recognize the style of architecture as being very similar. These temples are in the Old Town of Lopburi and make for some fascinating visits, as well as being excellent photo opportunities, particularly as this is where the Macaques have set up their headquarters, roaming the grounds and clambering over the ancient temples as is their want.

So why are the monkeys of Lopburi not driven out of town and tolerated by the locals? It all dates back to the Ramayana, the ancient Sanskrit tale which is attributed to the Hindu sage Valmiki. In this epic story, which is seen as one of the two great canons of India, a heroic monkey with human traits named Hanuman helped rescue a bride to be from a 10 headed demon and it is believed today that Hanuman founded Lopburi and that the monkey residents of the town are direct descendants of his bloodline. Whether it’s true or not or if it just makes for a quirky and interesting background to entice the tourists, we will never know. Having said that, even though the monks and practicing Buddhists of Lopburi are not, of course, followers of Hinduism, they do regard tending to and feeding the monkeys as a merit making activity and take care of them (or at least do their best not to be too angry with them when they have their mobile phones stolen by them!) accordingly.

So, this brings us to the Monkey Buffet Festival and it’s whys, what’s and wherefores. Despite the monkeys’ illustrious and ancient connections with the town, the Monkey Buffet is actually a pretty new tradition and one that was actually conjured up by a local business man with an eye on attracting tourists to the otherwise sleepy town. Lopburi’s convenient location in regards to Bangkok makes it ideal for a weekend or overnight stay either from the city, if passing through on the way to the Northeast region of Isan, or as a detour when heading to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai in the North.

So, who is the genius behind the annual Monkey Buffet Festival? For this we have a man by the name of Yongyuth Kitwattananusont to thank. Back in 1989 Kitwattananusont, a hotelier by trade, gained sponsorship and assistance from TAT – the Tourism Authority of Thailand – to launch his inaugural festival for the benefit of the monkeys’ stomachs, the town’s peoples’ wallets and the tourists’ holiday memories. Now the festival pulls in thousands of visitors every year bringing in much welcome income for Lopburi’s restaurants and hotels.

Khun Yongyuth also takes great enjoyment from the festival and he attempts to make each year a bigger and better spectacle from the previous one. One year saw him dressing up in a monkey costume and floating into the festival by parachute while in 2013, he aims to increase the already magnificent buffet by offering those cheeky monkeys over 4,000 kilograms worth of food!

And boy do those monkeys make the most of their buffet; they don’t care whether it’s good for the town’s collective bank balances or if it gives the tourists great photos to take home and share with their friends and family on Facebook or Twitter – they’re just happy to be able to gorge themselves and fill their furry stomachs to such excess one day a year. They’re probably also quite fond of the added opportunity to be able to grab some extra cameras or bags from unsuspecting tourists too! You have to wonder what these kleptomaniac monkeys do with all the things that they steal; do they store them all somewhere? Do they use them to trade with other monkeys? Have they secretly mastered how to take photos of their babies and upload them to Instagram?!

Regardless, the annual Monkey Buffet Festival is something that is surely looked forward to by Lopburi’s simian residents all year long. The buffet takes place in November and although dates can change from year to year, in 2013 it will be held on the 25th, which is a Monday. So what happens at the festival and where are the best spots for monkey picnic watching?

The Monkey Buffet takes place in the overgrown and ruined Khmer temple of Pra Prang Sam Yot where the majority of the monkeys live. But this is not just any old animal feeding time with fruit scattered on the ground; the monkeys are treated with reverence and respect and are even cordially invited to attend their feast with invitations that are attached to cashew nuts and distributed to the guests of honour. In fact this is a banquet worthy of a five star hotel as actual chefs lovingly spend hours preparing the food (which will be devoured in no time at all by the ungrateful diners!) The buffet is vegetarian: no baby bird or frogs here, thank you very much, and consists of fruit salads, sticky white rice and a traditional Thai desert called Thong yod, which means golden teardrop, and is made from egg yolk. Thong yod is reputedly difficult to make as it is hard to create the teardrop shape required, and it is also served at auspicious ceremonies, indicating that no time or expense is spared when it comes to honouring Lopburi’s most revered residents.

Endless oceans of bananas, mangos, dragon fruits, apples, pineapples, durians and all the other tropical fruits you can think of are spread out for the Macaques to feast upon. Some fruit will be encased in blocks of ice which the monkeys will lick in frustration, not being able to contain themselves and wait for the ice to melt. A perfect picture opportunity if you can catch one in action.
The buffet is served on long tables covered with crisp red table cloths – which don’t stay clean for long. Once the meal has been laid out it doesn’t take too long for the monkeys to make themselves completely at home and these distinctly badly behaved hairy individuals waste no time in stuffing themselves senseless then dancing on the tables, throwing leftover food and drink at each other and the watching tourists, and generally indulging in the type of behavior that would see them being swiftly thrown out of, and handed a lifetime ban, from the Hilton! It’s all for the tourists though and the bad behavior of the monkeys is delighted in by the camera wielding masses.

It is precisely this bad attitude and over familiarity with humans that drives the people of Lopburi somewhat crazy however and visitors to the town, whether during the festival or not, should be warned that these furry fiends are not backwards when it comes to being forwards and making a nuisance of themselves is practically their raison d’etre! Just wandering around town can be a hazardous occupation and you will need to keep an eye on your belongings pretty much all the time. Daylight robbery is a common occurrence and the monkeys are always on the lookout for an opportunity to add to their collection of stolen swag, so keep a firm hold of mobile phones, cameras, handbags and purses and anything else you value and don’t particularly want to donate to Lopburi’s hairy community.

It’s not just criminal acts that can be a problem however; some of the monkeys’ behavior can be downright anti-social too. They hang out along roof tops and telegraph wires, occasionally defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians, jumping on the backs of passersby and pulling their hair and indulging in, let’s just call it extreme displays of public affection, if you catch my meaning! As mentioned, providing you aren’t a victim of monkey robbery, this can all be very amusing and does make for some great photos and tales to tell back home, but the (human) locals are not quite so enamored of their neighbours’ exploits, despite the money they are responsible for bringing into the town. It’s somewhat of a simian swings and roundabouts situation.

Once the Monkey Buffet Festival is over, if you’re looking for a quiet, chilled out place to stay for a day or two, Lopburi makes a pleasant enough, low key place to relax and, Monkey Buffet aside, one that’s not really on the tourist trail. It’s a small town and is easy to walk around and is fairly interesting from the vantage point of seeing a typical Thai town go about its day to day business, albeit it a town with a historic past. Anyone interested in the ancient empires of the Kingdom might find Lopburi interesting. Of course there are the Khmer temple ruins – Prang Khaek (Shiva Shrine), San Phra Kan (Kala Shrine), Prang Sam Yot (Three Spired Shrine) and the tower at Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat to visit but the Dvaravati, Sukhothai and Ayuthaya empires all also established their administrative centres here at various points in the past.

If you’re tempted by the mixture of ancient ruins and appallingly behaved Macaques, Lopburi is quick and easy to get to from Bangkok and other points across the country. Here’s how:
Frequent buses leave Bangkok’s North and Northeastern (Mo Chit) bus station and take around three and a half hours to arrive at Lopburi’s bus station which is on Naresuan Road, approximately 2km outside of the Old Town.

It is also easy to take the train. Whether coming from the north and from the direction of Ayuthaya, or from the south and Bangkok, you’ll arrive at Lopburi’s train station on Na Phra Kan Road which is handily located within walking distance to the historic sites and to hotels and guest houses. If you only want to stop off for half a day or so, the station will let you store your baggage there.

In Thailand there are several choices of trains, ordinary, rapid and express, so make sure you know which one you’re getting if time is of the essence for you. Different trains cost different amounts, with the ordinary being the cheapest. If departing from Bangkok, take the train from the main Hualamphong station; there are a number of departures to Lopburi throughout the day and night. The rapid and express trains take approximately three hours and the ordinary trains about four and a half hours.
Whether you go to Lopburi to see the ancient ruins or especially for the Monkey Buffet Festival you’re sure to have unforgettable time in this laid back monkey paradise!

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Hōnen Matsuri – Penis festival Sun, 17 Aug 2014 17:49:39 +0000 Hōnen Matsuri (豊年祭?, “Harvest Festival“) is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15 in Japan. Hōnen means prosperous year in Japanese, implying a rich harvest, while a matsuri is a festival. The Hōnen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.
Honen Matsuri

The best known of these festivals takes place in the town of Komaki, just north of Nagoya City. The festival’s main features are Shinto priests playing musical instruments, a parade of ceremonially garbed participants, all-you-can-drink sake, and a 280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (96 inch)-long wooden phallus. The wooden phallus is carried from a shrine called Shinmei Sha (in even-numbered years) on a large hill or from Kumano-sha Shrine (in odd-numbered years), to a shrine called Tagata Jinja.

The festival starts with celebration and preparation at 10:00 a.m. at Tagata Jinja, where all sorts of foods and souvenirs (mostly phallus-shaped or related) are sold. Sake is also passed out freely from large wooden barrels. At about 2:00 p.m. everyone gathers at Shinmei Sha for the start of the procession. Shinto priests say prayers and impart blessings on the participants and mikoshi, as well as on the large wooden phallus, which are to be carried along the parade route.

Honen Matsuri

Honen Matsuri

Honen Matsuri

When the procession makes its way down to Tagata Jinja the phallus in its mikoshi is spun furiously before it is set down and more prayers are said. Everyone then gathers in the square outside Tagata Jinja and waits for the mochi nage, at which time the crowd is showered with small rice cakes which are thrown down by the officials from raised platforms. The festival concludes at about 4:30 p.m.

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Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival Sun, 17 Aug 2014 17:31:22 +0000 The Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival celebrates the long tradition of bullfighting in the Gyeongsangbuk-do Province. Drawing over half a million visitors annually since its inception in 1999, the festival is the largest bullfighting championship in the country. In addition to the bullfighting championship, the festival offers a number of exciting events including performances, hands-on experience programs, and exhibitions of the history of bullfighting, local agriculture, cows, etc.

There’s a small budget film here in Korea that’s made a very big buzz over the past few months. The film, Old Partner, documents an elderly farmer’s special relationship with his ox. Living in very modern Seoul, this may seem like a bygone portrait of South Korea. Yet, it was only a few decades ago that Korea was an agrarian society, and the bull was the farmer’s most prized possession. One reminder of these (mostly) bygone days is the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival in Korea (청도 소싸움축제).
Cheongdo bullfighting festival
Perhaps it’s no surprise that bullfighting was a popular source of entertainment for villagers back in the day. Of course, with modernization has come the decline of village life, and with it, the traditional bullfight. But there are still towns across Korea where you can see regular bullfights, and one of them is the village of Cheongdo, in North Gyeongsang Province. Each March or April, the small town hosts the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival in Korea. Recently, a couple of friends and I went to check it out… this being the year of the ox, and all!

Cheongdo is located about 40 kilometers south of Daegu (대구). Since 1999, they’ve hosted the annual Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival to restore a traditional pastime while creating a tourism draw. A 10,000 person-capacity stadium was erected for this purpose, and hundreds of bulls fight annually for a prize of several million won, or a few thousand U.S. dollars.

Cheongdo bullfighting festival
Unlike in Spain and Latin America, Korean bullfights do not feature matadors, nor is there much blood or gore. Typically, the bulls, whose names are printed prominently on their sides, spend minutes (or hours) butting heads until one yields. To start the bout, the trainers release them from two pens and draw them together with ropes. Typically, the feisty males eagerly engage, but in several of the tête-à-têtes that we saw, one of the 1,000-kilogram beasts simply refused to fight, apparently intimidated by the other one’s snorting and dirt kicking.

What makes a successful bull, you ask? Well, you might imagine that it’s hard to impart “skills” on a bull. But what South Korea’s 500-or-so rancher-trainers do to prepare their battle oxen is to build their strength and stamina. A recent New York Times article profiled a trainer who runs several kilometers daily alongside his bull, and feeds him pricey seafood, in addition to the more typical veggie diet. On game day, it’s not uncommon for trainers to slip their bulls some of the grain or potato-based alcohol called soju. But apart from liquid courage, trainers say that a thick neck, low torso and big horns are what they look for when choosing a bull.

Obviously the events inside the stadium are the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival‘s main draw, but there was also a small museum, a number of booths selling dried persimmon products and persimmon wine, and a very strange mini zoo of sorts. My friends and I watched the hilarious (and disturbing) sight of a pen that contained a chicken, pig, two ducks and a ewe on whose back a black hen rested. There was also a sheepdog whose entire body was shaved, save his shaggy head. Next door was a miniature pony, and cages holding a Turkish Angora cat and two traumatized raccoons.
The outdoor animal circus aside, my friends and I enjoyed ourselves. And after the fight we sampled some of the town’s famous… well, you guessed it, beef, for lunch. So next year, if you’re looking for an enjoyable reminder of traditional Korean culture, consider traveling to the Cheongdo Bullfighting Festival for their annual event. The village is conveniently located between Daegu and Busan (부산)..

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Holi festival Gallery Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:01:00 +0000 Holi is a spring festival also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.
Hindu devotees smear each other's faces with color during Holi celebrations in the streets near to the Bankey Bihari Temple on March 01, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) Indian Hindu women watch a ritualistic bonfire that marks the beginning of Holi in Mumbai, India on March 10, 2009. Hindus across the country light bonfires with old wood, sticks, branches and leaves, as one of the most important ceremonies during the Holi festival, which symbolises the victory of good over evil. (REUTERS/Arko Datta) Hindu devotees play with color during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on February 28, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) Physically handicapped children celebrate Holi, India's festival of colors at the Society for the Education of the Crippled in Mumbai March 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Arko Datta) Priests throw color on the devotees celebrating Holi at the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan, India on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) Nihangs, or Sikh warriors, apply colored powder to each other during celebrations of "Hola Mohalla" at Anandpur Sahib in the northern Indian state of Punjab March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma) A boy is covered with a colored powder called abir during the celebration of Phagwa, or Holi, in the Tunapuna Hindu Primary School in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago on February 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Andrea De Silva) Revellers raise their hands as colored water is poured on them during Holi celebrations in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Dave) A man, his face smeared with colored powder, swims in the Arabian Sea to remove color from his body after Holi festivities in Mumbai, India on Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade) People smear brightly-colored powder on a man as they celebrate Holi in the northern Indian city of Mathura March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/K.K. Arora) Children pose after covering themselves with a colored powder called abir during the celebration of Phagwa, or Holi, in the Tunapuna Hindu Primary School in Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago on February 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Andrea De Silva) Young men, faces smeared with color, look on as they celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, in Calcutta, India, Wednesday March 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Bikas Das) A Hindu priest throws color onto Hindu devotees during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on February 28, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) Students smear each other with colored powder during the celebrations of Holi, in Kolkata, India on March 9, 2009. (REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw) Young boys playing Holi, known as Kanhas, the childhood name for the God Krishna, throw color over Hindu devotees during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on February 27, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) The eye of a student, smeared in colors, is seen during the celebrations of the Holi, in Chandigarh, India on March 10, 2009. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma) Hindu devotees play with color during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on March 01, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) A woman reacts as 'gulal' or colored powder is thrown on her during Holi celebrations held for the Bollywood fraternity in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh) A child rests inside tomato pulp as part of the celebration of Holi in Hyderabad, India on February 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) A boy with a painted face looks into the camera during Holi celebrations in Kolkata March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw) Girls react after colored powder is thrown on them during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Babu) A woman closes her eyes as colored powder is thrown on her face during the celebrations of Holi in Chandigarh, India on February 26, 2010. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma) Revellers take part in Holi celebrations in the northern Indian city of Allahabad March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash) Dye covers the foot of a Hindu devotee as others play with color during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on February 27, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) A man cleans a huge pan for celebration of "Hola Mohalla" at Anandpur Sahib in the northern Indian state of Punjab March 11, 2009. "Hola Mohalla" or the festival of Nihangs is celebrated during the Hindu religious festival of Holi, marking the congregation of Sikh devotees from all over the country. (REUTERS/Ajay Verma) A boy with his face smeared in color smiles during the celebrations of Holi in Siliguri, India on February 26, 2010. (REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri) A girl with a colored face reacts as she is drenched during Holi celebrations in Kolkata March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw) Artists dressed as Hindu Lord Krishna (left) and his consort Radha are showered with rose petals during Holi celebrations in the northern Indian city of Mathura on February 18, 2010. (REUTERS/K. K. Arora) Children pour colored water on a tourist during celebrations of Holi, the Hindu festival of color, in Jaisalmer, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, Wednesday March 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) Men daubed in colors celebrate the re-enactment of a local tradition of "Lathmar Holi", celebrated at Nandgaon village near the northern Indian city of Mathura on February 24, 2010. (REUTERS/K. K. Arora) Students holding paint powder of various colors pose as they celebrate Holi, the Indian festival of colors, in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad March 10, 2009. (REUTERS/Amit Dave) A woman, her face smeared with colored powder, participates in Holi festivities in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Sadhus or holy men with painted faces sing songs as they celebrate Holi on banks of the Ganga in the northern Indian city of Allahabad March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Jitendra Prakash) People dance as colored water pours on them during Holi festivities in Gauhati, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath) People smear colored powder on each other during Holi celebrations in the northern Indian city of Amritsar March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Munish Sharma) Men smeared with facepaint and colored powder pose for a picture during Holi in the northeastern Indian city of Guwahati on March 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Utpal Baruah) Women tear off the clothes of men as they play huranga in Dauji temple near the northern Indian town of Mathura March 12, 2009. Huranga is a game played between men and women a day after the Holi festival during which men drench women with liquid colors and women tear off the clothes of the men. (REUTERS/K.K. Arora) Students smear colored powder on each other during a celebration ahead of Holi festival in Indore, India, Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. (AP Photo) Colored powder is thrown on a girl during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai, India on March 11, 2009. (REUTERS/Babu) Children, their faces smeared with colored powder, participate in Holi festivities in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Men smear colored powder on each other's faces during celebrations of Holi, the Hindu festival of color, in Jaisalmer, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, Wednesday March 11, 2009. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe) A girl washes herself after taking part in Holi in Hyderabad, India on February 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder) People smear colored powder on each other during Holi festivities in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Colored water is splashed on women during Holi festivities in Allahabad, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh) People smeared with colored powder celebrate Holi in Ahmedabad, India on March 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Amit Dave) People smeared with colored powder celebrate Holi in Ahmedabad, India on March 1, 2010. (REUTERS/Amit Dave) People smear the face of a young man with colored powder during Holi festivities in Mumbai, India, Monday, March 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) Clothes hang from overhead power and telephone lines after they were torn and thrown during Holi celebrations in Allahabad, India, Tuesday, March 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh A Hindu devotee stands covered in brightly-colored powder during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on March 01, 2010 in Vrindavan, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) Men and women take part in "huranga" in Dauji temple near the northern Indian city of Mathura March 2, 2010. Huranga is a game played between men and women a day after Holi, during which men drench women with liquid colors and women tear off the clothes of the men. (REUTERS/K.K. Arora) An Indian girl reacts as others throw colored powder at her as part of Holi, in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, India, Saturday, Feb .27, 2010. (AP Photo/Biswaranjan Rout)

Read more about Holi Festival

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Holi festival Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:13:08 +0000 View Holi festival Gallery

Holi (English pronunciation: /ˈhoʊliː/) (Sanskrit: होली) is a spring festival also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia.

It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of Hindus or people of Indian origin. The festival has, in recent times, spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People move and visit family, friends and foes, first play with colours on each other, laugh and chit-chat, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some drinks are intoxicating. For example, Bhang, an intoxicating ingredient made from cannabis leaves, is mixed into drinks and sweets and consumed by many. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up, visit friends and family.

Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.

Holi Festival

There is a symbolic legend to explain why holi is well celebrated as a colour fest. The word “Holi” originates from “Holika”, the evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu. King Hiranyakashipu had earned a boon that made him virtually indestructible. The special powers blinded him, he grew arrogant, felt he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.

Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He was and remained devoted to Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika – Prahlada’s evil aunt – tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak (shawl) that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada. Holika burned, Prahlada survived. Vishnu appeared and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, of fire that burned Holika. The day after Holika bonfire is celebrated as Holi.

In Braj region of India, where Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna, a Hindu deity. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as festival of love. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Krishna as well. Baby Krishna transitioned into his characteristic dark blue skin colour because a she demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna despairs whether fair skinned Radha and other Gopikas (girls) will like him because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the desperation, asks him to approach Radha and colour her face in any colour he wanted. This he does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. The playful colouring of the face of Radha has henceforth been commemorated as Holi. Beyond India, these legends to explain the significance of Holi (Phagwah) are common in some Caribbean and South American communities of Indian origin such as Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.

Holi festival has other cultural significance. It is the festive day to end and rid oneself of past errors, end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi also marks the start of spring, and for many the start of new year.

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

Holi is an important festival to Hindus. It is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalgun (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in March, sometimes in late February.

The festival has many purposes; most prominently, it celebrates the beginning of Spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. Holi festivities mark the beginning of new year to many Hindus, as well as a justification to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end conflicts and accumulated emotional impurities from past.

It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend of Holika. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit, in a ceremony known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Little Holi. People gather near fires, sing and dance. The next day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated. Children and youth spray coloured powder solutions (Gulal) at each other, laugh and celebrate, while elders tend to smear dry coloured powder (Abir) on each other’s face. Visitors to homes are first teased with colours, then served with Holi delicacies, desserts and drinks. After playing with colours, and cleaning up, people bathe, put on clean clothes, visit friends and family.

Like Holika Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India. The festival of colours in these parts is called Rangapanchami, and occurs on fifth day after Poornima (full moon).

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

History and rituals
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival with its cultural rituals. It is mentioned in the Puranas, Dasakumara Charita, and by the poet Kālidāsa during the 4th century reign of Chandragupta II. The celebration of Holi is also mentioned in the 7th-century Sanskrit drama, Ratnavali. The festival of Holi caught the fascination of European traders and British colonial staff by the 17th century. Various old editions of Oxford English Dictionary mention it, but with varying, phonetically derived spellings: Houly (1687), Hooly (1698), Huli (1789), Hohlee (1809), Hoolee (1825) and Holi in editions published after 1910.

There are several cultural rituals associated with Holi:

Prepare Holika pyre for bonfire
Main article: Holika Dahan
Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. Inside homes, people stock up on colour pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional delicacies.

Holika dahan
On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire, sing and dance.[12]

Play with colours
Holi frolic and celebrations begin the morning after Holika bonfire. There is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and youth groups form armed with dry colours, coloured solution, means to fill and spray others with coloured solution (pichkaris), balloons that can hold coloured water, and other creative means to colour their targets.

Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as turmeric, neem, dhak, kumkum were used; but water-based commercial pigments are increasingly used. All colours are used. Everyone in open areas such as streets and parks are game. Inside homes or at doorways though, only dry powder is used to smear each other’s face. People throw colours, and get their targets completely coloured up. It is like a water fight, but where the water is coloured. People take delight in spraying coloured water on each other. By late morning, everyone looks like a canvas of colours. This is why Holi is given the name “Festival of Colours.”

Groups sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. After each stop of fun and play with colours, people offer gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other traditional delicacies.[28] Chilled drinks, including adult drinks based on local intoxicating herbs, is also part of the Holi festivity.

Other variations

In Braj region around Mathura, in north India, the festivities may last more than week. The rituals go beyond playing with colours, and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks.

In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the love god of Indian mythology, on Holi.

The after party
After a day of play with colours, people clean up, wash and bathe, sober and dress up in the evening and greet friends and relatives by visiting them and exchange sweets. Holi is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in the society.

March 17th – 2014
March 6th – 2015
March 23rd – 2016

Holi Festival

Holi Festival

View Holi festival Gallery

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Loi Krathong Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:40:19 +0000 Loi Krathong (Thai: ลอยกระทง, IPA: [lɔːj kràʔ tʰoŋ]) is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand and certain parts of Laos and Burma (in Shan State). The name could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river.

Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the western calendar this usually falls in November.

Loy Krathong

According to the Royal Institute Dictionary 1999, loi (ลอย) means ‘to float’, while krathong (กระทง) has various meanings, one of which is “a basket to be floated on water in the Loi Krathong festival”. Several translations of krathong are found, such as floating crown, floating boat, floating decoration. The traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. Modern krathongs are more often made of bread or styrofoam. A bread krathong will disintegrate after a few days and can be eaten by fish. Banana stalk krathong are also biodegradable, but styrofoam krathongs are sometimes banned, as they pollute the rivers and may take years to decompose. A krathong is decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, incense sticks, and a candle. A small coin is sometimes included as an offering to the river spirits.

Loy Krathong
On the night of the full moon, Thais launch their krathong on a river, canal or a pond, making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits.

Government offices, corporations and other organizations bring large decorated krathongs. There are competitions for the best such krathong. A beauty contest is a regular feature and fireworks have become common in recent years.

Loi Krathong is often claimed to have begun in the Sukhothai by a court lady named Nopphamat. However, it is now known that the Nopphamat tale comes from a poem written in the early Bangkok period. According to H.M. King Rama IV, writing in 1863, it was a Brahmanical festival that adapted by Thai Buddhists in Thailand to honor Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama. The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements. People sometime cut their fingernails or hair and placed the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts. However, many ordinary Thai use the krathong to thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha (Thai: พระแม่คงคา).

The beauty contests that accompany the festival are known as “Nopphamat Queen Contests”. According to legend, Nang Nopphamat (Thai: นางนพมาศ; alternatively spelled as “Noppamas” or “Nopamas”) was a consort of the Sukothai king Loethai (14th century) and she had been the first to float a decorated raft. However, this is a new story which was invented during the first part of the 19th century. There is no evidence that a Nang Nopphamat ever existed. Instead, it is a matter of fact that a woman of this name was the leading character of a novel released during the end of the reign of King Rama III – around 1850 CE. Her character was written as guidance for all women who wished to become civil servants.

Mae Jo University

Kelantan in Malaysia also celebrates the same celebration, especially in the Tumpat area. The ministry in charge of tourism in Malaysia recognises it as an attraction for tourists. Many people visit the celebration each year.

Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as “Yi Peng” (Thai: ยี่เป็ง). Yi means two and peng means a full moon day. Yi Peng refers to the full moon day in the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar (the twelfth month according to the Thai lunar calendar).

Specials deals

A multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns (khom loi (Thai: โคมลอย), literally: “floating lanterns”) are launched into the air where they resemble large flocks of giant fluorescent jellyfish gracefully floating by through the sky. The festival is meant as a time for tham bun (Thai: ทำบุญ), to make merit. People usually make khom loi from a thin fabric, such as rice paper, to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air which is trapped inside the lantern creates enough lift for the khom loi to float up into the sky. In addition, people will also decorate their houses, gardens and temples with khom fai (Thai: โคมไฟ): intricately shaped paper lanterns which take on different forms. Khom thue (Thai: โคมถือ) are lanterns which are carried around hanging from a stick, khom khwaen (Thai: โคมแขวน) are the hanging lanterns, and khom pariwat (Thai: โคมปริวรรต) which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside. The most elaborate Yi Peng celebrations can be seen in Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the former Lanna kingdom, where now both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are celebrated at the same time resulting in lights floating on the waters, lights hanging from trees/buildings or standing on walls, and lights floating by in the sky. The tradition of Yi Peng was also adopted by certain parts of Laos during the 16th century.

IMPORTANT NOTE: So many websites on internet has confusion with Yi Peng / Yee Peng Festival with Mae Jo Fesitval. They are two different festivals and you can see more at here: Mass Sky Lantern Release at Mae Jo, Chiang Mai

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Ihi or Bel Bibaha Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:08:54 +0000 Normally Newar girls are married thrice in their lives. The first marriage is called “Ihi (Newari) or “Bel sanga bibaha” (Nepali). And then they are married to the Sun which is called “Bara Tayegu” (Newari) or “Gufa Rakhne” (Nepali). When they get into human conjugal relationship its actually their marriage. These marriage ceremonies are conducted both among Buddhist Newars and Hindu Newars.
Ihi - Bel Sanga bibaha

Ihi - Bel Sanga bibaha

Ihi - Bel Sanga bibaha

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Tet Doan Ngo Festival Thu, 26 Jun 2014 04:56:44 +0000 Date: 5th day of 5th lunar month
2014 date: June 02
2015 date: June 20
2016 date: June 09

Tet Doan Ngo is the Vietnamese version of Chinese Duanwu festival (literally: Tết: festival, Đoan: the start/straight/middle/righteousness/just, Ngọ: the seventh animal of the Chinese zodiac- the Horse) – Compare to Cantonese Chinese term “dyun eng” (which is duan wu in Mandarin Chinese) ngo/eng/wu all refer to the ancient Chinese calendar term: the seventh of the twelve ‘earthly branches’, which was a component for determining time based on a series of 60 years (just as today we refer to 100 year periods as centuries).) Ngo/eng/wu refers to the sun at noon.

– Tết Đoan Dương (Dương: yang) – yang being sun

– Tết Trùng Ngũ (Trùng: double, Ngũ: the fifth),

. Tết Đoan Ngũ, Tết Trùng Nhĩ or Tết Nửa Năm (Nửa Năm: a half of a year) is a festival celebrated at noon on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. This day is the day around the time when the tail of the Great Bear points directly to the south, that is, around the time of the summer solstice. At this time, the universe brings the greatest amount of yang or maleness in the entire year. Therefore, creatures and people must become stronger in both their health and their souls to overcome this.

In Vietnam, this day is also the death anniversary of National Mother Âu Cơ.

Rượu nếp, a sticky rice wine, is traditionally eaten on this holiday. Bánh tro, a kind of bánh lá, is used during this holiday. Bánh tro is considered as “cool”, symbolized yin because it includes vegetable ash water as an ingredient. Bánh tro is a perfect match with extreme hot day like May 5 in the lunar year.

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Dano festival Thu, 26 Jun 2014 04:46:25 +0000 Date: 5th day of 5th lunar month
2013 date: June 13
2014 date: June 3
2015 date: June 21
2016 date: June 10

Dano, also called Surit-nal, is a Korean traditional holiday that falls on the 5th day of the fifth month of the lunar Korean calendar. It is an official holiday in North Korea and one of the major traditional holidays in South Korea. South Korea has retained several festivals related to the holiday, one of which is Gangneung Dano Festival (강릉단오제) designated by UNESCO as a “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

In the Mahan confederacy of ancient Korea, this was a day of spiritual rites, and enjoyment with song, dance, and wine. Traditionally, women washed their hair in water boiled with Sweet Flag (changpo (창포)), believed to make one’s hair shiny. People wore blue and red clothes and dyed hairpins red with the iris roots. Men wore iris roots around their waist to ward off evil spirits. Herbs wet with dew on this morning were said to heal stomachaches and wounds. Traditional foods include surichitteok, ssuktteok, and other herb rice cakes.

Festival image in 2013

The persisting folk games of Dano are the swing, ssireum (씨름), stone battle game seokjeon and taekkyon (택견). The swing was a game played by women, while ssireum was a wrestling match among men. In addition, mask dance used to be popular among peasants due to its penchant for satirical lyrics flouting local aristocrats.

Dano is also called Surit-nal, which means high day or the day of god. The word surit harks back to suri, meaning “wheel,” which is why the rice cakes were marked with a wheel pattern.

Dano festival was a shamanistic ritual worshipping the sky deity in celebration of the end of sowing season. According to historical texts, the people of Mahan confederacy celebrated day and night with dancing and singing after the sowing season in May. In the ancient state of Jinhan, a rite to heaven was held after the sowing of the seeds in May. It is said this custom was passed on to Silla and was venerated as Dano. In the northern regions living creatures wake from their winter sleep in May, so Dano was originally a holiday celebrated in the northern part of the country. Since the Three Kingdoms of Korea era, the ancestral god also became an object of sacrifice. For example, in Gaya, Dano was one of five annual rituals for Suro, the legendary ancestor of Gaya. Since then, more emphasis was given to the ancestral rituals. Originally called Surit-nal, the new name Dano, derived from the Duanwu Festival, was adopted during Joseon Dynasty along with the exact date of celebration.

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Ha Giang Fire Dancing Festival Fri, 23 May 2014 06:03:20 +0000 Pa Then ethnic has over 5.000 people living mainly in two districts: Bac Quang and Chiem Hoa. There still remain many festivals and customs from the past, in which fire dance is the most unique and mysterious.
Fire dancing
The festival is considered as the new rice festival of the Pa Then. Fire dance fest starts in mid-October lunar calendar and lasts through New Year. To start the fire festival, it must have a sorcerer do liturgy. The rite includes incense, a chicken, 10 cups of wine, paper money. A big fire was burned and the sorcerer begins the rite. The time of liturgy lasts 1-2 hours before starting fire dance festival. When sorcerer beats the guitar, each youth will sit facing with sorcerer.
Fire dancing
Fire dancing
It is the time for dancing fire. After that, he jumped into the fire without fear or sensation. Each people jumps into the fire for 3-4 minutes, then break up. One people can join the dance several times, thus showing the strength and agility of them. Fire dance is only for men and these guys always get the admiration, respect of everyone. If visitors want to feel the mystery and sacred festival, you can join the fire dance of the Pa Then. This is a unique festival and it is considered as the new rice festival, starts in mid-October and lasts the Lunar New Year.
Fire dancing
Fire dancing
Currently, in the village of Pa Then, fire dance festival still preserved intact, regularly held on the occasion of New Year, it is one of the focal point of tourists when they want to explore unique culture of Pa Then ethnic in particular and the northern ethnic in general.

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Hoi An Lantern Festival Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:58:14 +0000 The ancient town of Hoi An host the lantern festival every Tets (new year) and every half month (lunar calendar). The festival in Tets (the begining of new year in lunar calendar) is the biggest lantern festival.

Hoi An newyear

Hoi An lantern in Tets holiday

Hoi An Lantern

Hoi An New Year Lantern Festival
The festival’s organising committee said that around 50 lantern workshops in the town will take part in the annual cultural event. “The best lanterns with traditional designs will light up for lunar New Year’s Eve on 7 nights every year. The 500m long road from An Hoi Bridge to the Hoai River Square will be lit up by hundreds of colorful lanterns during seven days of the festival,” said event organizer Le Son Ca.

“We will also host a series of cultural and art performances to celebrate across the seven days. We hope domestic and foreign tourists will flock to the town during the lantern festival,” he added.

Hoi An lighting handcraft


Hoi An lighting from other view

Hoi An New year

The city, which was included on a list of the top ten Asian cities decided by the US magazine Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Awards, will also host boat racing on the Hoai River, bonsai, calligraphy and flock performances.

The main roads of Tran Hung Dao, Nguyen Hue and Hoang Dieu will be transformed into a flower display for the New Year celebrations.

Time for 2015 Hoi An New Year Lantern Festival: 19th February, 2015
Time for 2016 Hoi An New Year Lantern Festival: 08th February, 2016

Hoi An full moon Lantern Festival
The Hoi An Full Moon Festival is held on every 14th day of the lunar month at the World’s heritage ancient town in Central Vietnam. During these nights, Hoi An ancient town switches off its electric lights and shuts down to motorized vehicles and the lanterns go on (that’s why it is also called Hoi An Lantern Festival). This is a magical festival and gives you a glimpse of what life may have been like when Hoi An was a booming and affluent port 400 years ago.

Hoi An Night with lanterns

Lantern in hoi an

Lantern in night

Lantern in river

Mid-autumn festival in Hoi An

The Hoi An Lunar full moon festival activities recall the real life of Hoi An people over 4 centuries ago. Some groups of the Hoi an old men play the Chinese chess in front of their houses on the street, the local people & the young couples go around the city under the moonlight to feel their hope & enjoy the life. As you battle your way through the crowds on the street, you’ll be rewarded with bands playing bamboo flutes, drums and fiddles, as well as traditional games. On the banks of the Hoai River young men and women exchange folk songs. You will feel the life very worthy for living when you join the lunar lantern festival in Hoi An ancient town.

Hoi An Full Moon Festival dates 2014 are listed here:

January 14th | February 13rd | March 14th | April 13rd | May 12nd | June 11st | July 10th | August 09th | September 07th (Mid Autumn) | October 07th | November 06th | December 05th

Hoi An Full Moon Festival dates 2015 are listed here:

January 05th | February 03rd| March 05th | April 03rd | May 03rd| June 01st & June 30th| July 30th | August 28th | September 27th (Mid Autumn) | October 27th | November 26th | December 25th

Buy Hoi An Lanterns here

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Winter Light Festival Thu, 03 Apr 2014 07:30:25 +0000 Located in Kuwana City (Mie Prefecture) is Nabana No Sato, a flower-focused park featuring sprawling gardens and giant greenhouses. Running annually from mid November to mid March is one of Japan’s finest Winter Illuminations, including the famous tunnel of light.

The park also features an onsen (hot spring) and a variety of restaurants including the Nagashima Beer Garden. Open from 9am – 9pm, the park is a very popular tourist attraction so be prepared for crowds, especially on weekends.

With over 7 million LED lights, the Nabana No Sato botanical garden celebrates winter in elegant style.

Nabano No Sato tunnel of light japan

Nabano No Sato tunnel of light japan

Nabano No Sato tunnel of light japan

Long exposure night photography gold fireflies japan

Blue leds globes floating down river tokyo japan hotaru festival

Japanese festival

Lighting in Festival

Fuji mountain


Fuji mountain in lighting festival

Led lighting in Japan winter lighting festival

Japanese lighting festival

Japan lighting

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