Top 5 summer festivals in Asia

Top 5 summer festivals in Asia
23 Jun 2015

Asia is a region of many festivities. It’s no surprise that the region is teeming with seasonal activities to entertain and occupy both locals and visitors alike. Times are especially exciting during the summer season. Regardless whether it’s the tail of spring or the start of summer, festivals happen all over. Sometimes, such festivals also extend a little beyond the summer months, as long as the weather remains dry and apt for it.

Here are five summer festivals recommended for travelers to experience when visiting parts of Asia.

1. Moriones Festival (Philippines)

This colorful summer festival has its tradition in the Philippines’ folk history. Usually celebrated during the Roman Catholic-designated Holy Week Lenten observance (late March or sometime in April), the festival celebrates the story of the Roman soldier Longinus who pierced Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Revelers dress up in colorful Roman soldier garb reenacting these scenes from the crucifixion, and there are many theatrical-like shows happening on the streets and in the stage of the city center. The Moriones Festival is exclusively celebrated in the province of Marinduque, about 3-4 hours away from the capital of Manila. Several Roman Catholic-themed festivals, which mirror the Moriones style, are also celebrated in various parts of the country, but are known in different names and have their own unique traits.

2. Songkran Festival (Thailand)

New Year’s day festivities are celebrated differently in major parts of the world. In Thailand and in other Buddhist countries, their new year celebration usually falls during the summer month of April, coinciding with the Buddhist/Hindu calendar. The Thailand new year festivity is called the Songkran Festival and is typically celebrated by people pouring water over each other. Some fun ways of doing the water-pouring ritual were developed in various parts of Thailand. For example, in Chiang Mai up north, people carry water guns and zap each other with water while having a few laughs. In other parts, powdered chalk is sometimes used to mimic the monks’ use of chalks to mark areas they bless. The water pouring ritual symbolizes the washing off of sins, bad luck and other negativities as a sign of welcoming the new year with good luck.

3. Bali Spirit Festival (Indonesia)

Only less than a decade old, this festival is becoming quite popular during the summer as different yoga enthusiasts, peace advocates and meditation music lovers converge to celebrate the Balinese Hindu concept of Tri Hita Karana. This celebration emphasizes positive change through the harmony of the social, spiritual and natural environments. Usually conducted for several days during March or April, the idyllic scenery of Bali in Indonesia provides a calming backdrop to this positive energy-focused festival. Various activities consisting of yoga, dance, world music and environmental advocacies merge in this event.

4. Aomori Nebuta Festival (Japan)

Summer in Japan falls in August, and many summer festivals happen in the country during that time. One of the most popular is the Aomori Nebuta Festival which takes places in the Aomori Prefecture area of the country. A nebuta is a Japanese lantern float, and huge ones come in display throughout the streets of the prefecture during the festival. These large-scale lanterns take the form of humans or animals and there are designs for children as well. This event is one of the most recognized folk history festival in the country whose inspirations date from the feudal times. Aside from the colorful nebuta displays on parade, fireworks also adorn the night sky during the festival.

5. Rainforest World Music Festival (Malaysia)

Typically celebrated during June or July (depending on the year), this world music festival has coincided with the Western summer season’s timing. Thus, people from North America and all over the world attend this festival which celebrates traditional and indigenous music, musicians and musical instruments (of the acoustic kind) not only from Malaysia but from other parts of Asia and the world as well. The festival is celebrated in the island of Borneo in Malaysia, particularly in the area of Sarawak. Music lovers would enjoy the various concerts, performances and workshops held during this artistic 3-day festival.

Written by: Olivia Cantor

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