Myanmar Festivals

The Myanmar people are a fun-loving and happy-go- lucky people. Myanmar is a Land of Festivals. There is no single month that does not have a festival all the year round. Festivals are for merry-making, for preserving traditions, for religious observance, for competition and for commerce. Myanmar life and custom are so inextricably bound up with religion that no account would be complete without a brief description of the principal Myanmar Festivals.


January falls in the Myanmar months of Pyartho and Tabodwe as per Myanmar calendar.

Ananda Pagoda Festival

Period From the 8th Waxing day of Pyatho to the Full moon day of Tabodwe (January/ February)
Location Ananda pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar


The Ananda Pagoda Festival is held in the month of Pyatho which corresponds to January. The Pagoda Festival is one of the most spectacular events in Myanmar. There is a big fair packed with shops and vendors selling locally made stuff and food around the large Pagoda compound. Village folks come in caravans of ox-carts to this festival and camp out for the duration of this exciting country fair. The highlight of the festival comes on the full-moon day- thousands of Buddhist monks are invited and alms-bowls filled with crops are offered to them. The authenticity of the event combined with the local atmosphere cast a spell on many visitors from far and near, home and abroad.

Manaw Festival


Early January


Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar

kachinKachin State is the northernmost State in Myanmar which has a delightful festival known as Manaw. Kachin, the hill people or the Scots of Myanmar, celebrate Manaw festival on the grand scale. It is one of the most popular festivals in Myanmar. The festival is usually held in January. The main reason of celebrating Manaw festival is the celebration of the New Year, Victory in battles, reunion of the tribes etc. Everybody in town joins the spiritual dance lined up behind one another.

The traditional Manaw totem poles are decorated in colourful Kachin motifs and are centered in the middle of the festival ground. All who come to the festival wear their best traditional costume and the main feature of the festival is dancing around the erected Manaw poles. Manaw festival is held in Myitkyina and Putao in Kachine State.

Naga Festival

Period Middle of January
Location Naga Land, Myanmar

nagaNagaland is situated in the remote northwestern hills sharing borders with India. Over 85% population of Nagaland is directly dependent on agriculture, it being the main-stay of Naga society. After harvesting their crops, the Naga celebrate New year festival and welcome the next season. They celebrate their distinct festival with a pageantry of color and a feast of music. This festival is social-clan gathering, reunion and amity among tribes but it is also to exchange their experiences of previous year, to make plans for the coming year and to discuss how to overcome difficulties. At the festival, the spirits of Gods are propitiated with sacrifices praying for abundant crops, good weather and bountiful harvests.

In ancient times, festival was held basing on the rotation of village by village. Nowadays, the Central Committee of Naga Tribal Culture chooses one celebration site each other, to be held on January 15. All tribes taking part in the festival congregate at the chosen site. Naga songs and dances depict the history of how Naga tribes lived harmoniously and the festival is a way of renewing and reinforcing that harmony. Naga festival is best opportunity for foreign travelers to visit the remote Naga region and to experience one of Asia's last authentic events of traditional culture and custom.


February falls in the months of Tabodwe and Tabaung as per Myanmar calendar.


Kyaik kauk Pagoda Festival

Period 8th waxing day of Tabodwe ( February)
Location Kyaik Kauk Pagoda, Thanlyin, Myanmar


This festival starts on 8th Waxing day of Tabodwe (February) the duration of which is 10 days. It is held in Thanlyin near Yangon. The pagoda festival is close to Yangon, just 30 minutes away by car. A free traditional puppet show is always part of the festivities.


Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

Period 14th waxing to full moon of Tabodwe (February)
Location Mandalay, Myanmar


The pagoda festival is celebrated on 14th Waxing Moon day and 15th full Moon day of Tabodwe in Mandalay. Tabodwe which approximates to February is the coldest month in Myanmar and during the festival, devotees light bonfires and cook huge pans of htamane (a concoction of ginger, coconut, sesame and glutinous rice) to offer monks at the Maha Muni pagoda.


Shwesettaw Pagoda Festival

Period 5th waxing to full moon of Tabodwe ( February)
Location Shwesettaw Pagoda, Minbu, Magwe Division, Myanmar


This pagoda lies at the base of Yakhine Yoma Ranges and Man Chaung (stream) and is famous for having Buddha footprint. At festival days, the sandy bank is decorated with bamboo camps and shops which sell local products. This pagoda festival is ideal for nature lovers.


March falls in the months of Tabaung and Tagu as per Myanmar calendar.


Bawgyo Pagoda Festival

Period 10th waxing to full moon of Tabaung( March)
Location Bawgyo Pagoda, Hsipaw, Shan State, Myanmar

The Baw Gyo Pagoda is situated near Hsipaw and the locked up 4 Buddha images are brought out for display, worship and gilding with gold leaf during the festival time. Market stalls are dominated by tea-growing Palaung tribes from nearby hills and jewellers from Kyauk Me selling their produces/ products. For keen observers upon ethnic life of Myanmar most attractive are the native hill tribes coming from villages around Hsipaw with their traditional costumes.


Indawgyi Shwe Mitzu Pagoda Festival

Period 8th waxing to full moon day of Tabaung (March)
Location Indawgyi Lake, Kachin State, Myanmar


This 10 day festival is held at Indawgyi Lake, the biggest natural lake in Myanmar, about 100 miles (5 hour drive) from Myintkyina every year. The fascinating thing about this festival is that two sandbanks are formed after being washed up by the waves before the festival begins so that people can walk from the bank to the pagoda. People believe that one is for human use and the other is a passage for the God. These two sandbanks disappear into the lake shortly after the festival.


Kakku Pagoda Festival

Period 14th waxing to full moon of Tabaung (March)
Location Kakku Pagoda, Shan State, Myanmar

Located in the Shan State, about 33 miles from Taunggyi, Kakku is a hidden treasure. There is a magnificent cluster of over 2000 stupas packed closely together in the middle of which is the main stupa. One of the remarkable sights of Kakku is all these stupas are nowadays, well-renovated and well-preserved. The pagoda festival is annually held during March, the full moon day of Tabaung. Kakku has been the centre of the worship for the Pa-oh people. During the festival, the Pa-oh tribes come to pay homage to the pagoda in their best costumes.


Mawtin Zun Pagoda Festival

Period 8th waxing to full moon day of Tabaung (March)
Location Mawtin Zun Pagoda, Ayeyarwaddy Division, Myanmar

This pagoda is situated at Maw Tin Zun, Ngaputaw Township in Pathein District of the Ayeyarwaddy Divison. It is believed that two hair relics of the Buddha were enshrined in this pagoda. Mawtin Zun pagoda is accessible by boat so the river trip to this pagoda is a pleasant one. The pagoda festival is held in Tabaung (March), the last month of the Myanmar Calendar. People from all over the country come to the festival.


Pindaya Pagoda Festival

Period 11th waxing to Full moon Day of Tabaung( March)
Location Pindaya Cave, Pindaya, Shan State, Myanmar

pindayaPindaya Shwe Oo Min cave Pagoda festival is held in Tabaung, the last month of Myanmar Calendar which coincides with March of the Gregorian Calendar. It starts seven days before the full moon day. During the festival time, thousands of devotees come from villages around the area to the cave. A kind of pagoda mall is set up at the foot of the hill under big shady Banyan trees to sell local products.


Sand Stupa Event

Period The whole month of Tabaung (March)
Location Towns and villages along the rivers

The traditional festival held in Tabaung (March), the last month of the Myanmar Calendar, is the Sand Pagoda Festival. Historically, these Sand Pagoda Festivals were held even at the time of Myanmar Kings. In the month of Tabaung (March) water in the rivers and streams ebbs and sand banks appear in them. Myanmar Kings held Sand Pagoda Festival at the Palace as well as at every riverside town and village. Sand Pagodas are of graduated five tiers, tapering to the top. Sand Pagodas last till the next rainy season. Nowadays Sand Pagoda Festival is no longer held on national scale. Only few towns and villages along the rivers hold it annually as their local event.


Shwedagon Pagoda Festival

Period Full moon day of Tabaung ( March)
Location Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar


Shwedagon Pagoda, arguably one of the wonders of the world, is a must-see for globe trotters. It is the landmark of Myanmar as well as the soul of Myanmar people. The pagoda festival is held on the full moon day of Tabaung which is equivalent to March. One spectacular event of this pagoda festival is candle-light offering around the whole pagoda precinct offered by Buddhist devotees. It is worthwhile to see that many a devout pilgrim come and participate in the religious activities of the pagoda festival.


April falls in the months of Tagu and Kason as per Myanmar calendar.


Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival

Period 8th Waxing to 5th Waning of Tagu (APRIL)
Location Bago, Myanmar


Traditional Pagoda festival is celebrated at the Shwemawdaw Pagoda and its surrounding. Buddhists from Bago and all over the country come to the Pagoda to pay homage and perform meritorious deeds. Young people enjoy shopping at temporary make shift shops around the Pagoda and having traditional snacks.



Thingyan New Year Festival or Water Festival

Period Mid of April according to Myanmar lunar calendar
Location Nation wide

thingyan“Thingyan” means “transition” or “change over”. Thingyan or Water Festival is held in Tagu, the first month of the Myanmar Calendar which corresponds to April. The festival is held with great gaiety and verve. Thingyan is a festive occasion during which people throw water at one another believing that Thingyan water eradicates the bad deeds of the previous year and brings good luck for new year. During the festival, Myanmar people, young and old, indulge in fun and frolic. Thingyan falls on the last four days before Myanmar New Year day. It falls in second week of April usually on the twelfth or thirteenth, according to the Gregorian calendar.

Traditionally, Myanmar people believe that the King of Celestial Beings, Thangyar Min, descend to the realm of Human beings during that period so they welcome Thangyar Min by a bowl of flowers putting in their houses. Unlike other tradition, Myanmar New Year time is calculated by astrologers and it could be any time during the New Year Day. Meritorious deeds are performed on the New Year Day all over the country.


May falls in the months of Kason and Nayon as per Myanmar calendar.


Nyaung Yay Thun Festival or Festival of Water Pouring on Bo Tree

Period Full moon Day of Kason (APRIL or MAY)
Location Nation wide

On the sacred Buddha Day - full moon day of Kason – one of the major ceremonies Buddhists celebrate is the water pouring ceremony to Bodhi tree (ficus religiosa), the sacred Banyan tree, at the foot of which Gotoma Buddha attained enlightenment. The ceremony has been taking place since centuries ago in order to prevent the Bodhi tree dying from drought during the hot season.

The full moon of Kason is a sacred Buddha day as on which date Gotoma Buddha was born, passed away, attained enlightenment and blessed by prophecy of Depankara Buddha.


Pa-Oh Rocket Festival

Period Full moon Day of Kason (APRIL or MAY)
Location Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar


Locally made rockets stuffed with powerful gunpowder are ceremoniously carried and launched in competition. Observed mostly by ethnic Pa-Oh people to predict the weather and crop. Young men and women use small mirrors to one another.


Shitthaung Pagoda Festival

Period Full moon day of kason (May)
Location Sihtthaung Pagoda, Mrauk U, Rakhine state, Myanmar


Shit-Thaung pagoda festival is held on and around full moon day of Kason, the second month in Myanmar calendar usually falls in May. The festival lasts eight days. Dummy boat races on land, real boat contests and water splashing in the Mrauk-U canal are held on full moon day, as well as the final traditional wrestling at the foot of the pagoda.



Taung-Yo Festival

Period Full moon Day of Kason (APRIL or MAY)
Location Pindaya Cave, Pindaya, Shan State, Myanmar


During the festival, torch procession by Taung-Yo tribe in the early part of the night with a view to paying homage to the numerous statues inside the cave is performed.




June falls in the months of Nayon and Waso as per Myanmar calendar.


The Festival of Religious Examinations

Period The whole month of Nayon (June)
Location Nation-wide

Nayon, the third month of Myanmar Lunar Calendar approximates to June. In this month, religious examinations for Buddhist monks are held all over the country. Of the three Sasanas (Teachings of the Buddha) – Pariyatti (the academic studies), Paripatti (the practice), Pativeda (the realization) - Pariyatti is primarily important. The Buddhist monks are, therefore, encouraged to devote themselves to the diligent study of all Buddhist scriptures. The successful candidates are duly recognized and lavishly rewarded. History had it that religious examinations were held under the auspices of the Kings. Today this tradition is kept by the Government and the public in co-operation.


July falls in the months of Waso and Wagaung as per Myanmar calendar.


Fish Feeding Festival

Period Full moon Day of Waso to Tawthalin
Location Pwint Phyu, Magwe, Myanmar

The festival is held on the bank of Mone stream which teems with large catfish. The fish are fed throughout Buddhist Lent, which many locals believe that that’s the only time those fishes appear.


Waso Festival or Dhamasetkya Day or The first day of Buddhist Lent

Period Full moon day of Waso (JUNE or JULY)
Location Nation wide

Full moon day of Waso is one of the sacred days in Buddhism and also the first day of Buddhist Lent. Buddhists all over the country celebrate Waso festival on full moon day of Waso by offering Waso robes and monastic requisites to monks to be used within three months of Buddhist Lent. Monks refrain from travelling overnight during the Buddhist Lent although they make their rounds for their daily food.

The full moon day of Waso is religiously sacred in three-fold accounts: the embryo-Gotama Buddha was conceived, He renounced worldly pleasures, and He preached Dhama( Discourse) to His five disciples on this day. Therefore, this day is also known as Dhamasetkya Day.


Waso Flower-picking Event

Period 1st Waning Day of Waso (JUNE or JULY)
Location Inle Lake and Nation wide


On the 1st waning day after the full moon of Waso, young men and women cruise in motorboats on Inlay Lake to pick water lilies. Similar events are seen throughout the country.




Waso Flower-picking Event

Period 1st Waning Day of Waso (JUNE or JULY)
Location Inle Lake and Nation wide


On the 1st waning day after the full moon of Waso, young men and women cruise in motorboats on Inlay Lake to pick water lilies. Similar events are seen throughout the country.





Waso Rattan Ball (Chinlone) Festival

Period Month of Waso (JUNE or/and JULY)
Location Mahamuni precinct, Mandalay, Myanmar


It is the month long festival and contest during the month of Waso. It is also the best event to watch Myanmar Rattan Ball (Chinlone). Teams from all over the country are participating in that contest which has been holding annually since 1928.

Chinlone is one of the Myanmar traditional sport games using feet and knees to airborne the rattan ball (weaved with rattan strips like a ball with twelve pentagonal holes) in different sets of performance by tossing or passing to one another within the circle of nearly 7 meters.



August falls in the months of Wagaung and Tawtalin as per Myanmar calendar.


Taungbyone Nat Festival

Period 8th waxing to full moon day of Wagaung (July or August)
Location Taungbyone, 15 km north of Mandalay, Myanmar

taung-pyoneThe festival is held at a small village called Taungbyone, about nine miles north of Mandalay. The origin of the festival is the pagoda festival of a pagoda supposed to be built by famous Myanmar King Anawrahta. But because of the devotees to the two famous spirits (Nats), Min Kyi and Min Lay to whom King Anawratha gave them the Taungbyone village to rest their souls after learning that they were wrongly killed, it is degenerated to become the festival to devote those two spirits.

This festival is one of the major Nat festivals in the country and devotees believe that all the spiritual mediums are gathering in that festival. Nat dances are rampant during the noisy festival to keep the Nat happy.


  • 10th Waxing day – attending a Nat audience
  • 11th Waxing day – having a Nat audience (or) having a royal bath
  • 12th Waxing day – ascending the throne
  • 13th Waxing day - presenting roast rabbit
  • Full Moon day of Wagaung – cutting down Htein trees


Yatanagu Nat Festival

Period 8th waning of Wagaung (July or August)
Location Yatanagu village, Near Amarapura, Mandalay

Starting one week after the Taungbyone Nat festival is the Yatanagu Nat festival celebrated at a small village south of Mandalay, near Amarapura. It is the festival to welcome and farewell Mae Wunna, the spirit of the mother of two Nat brothers from Taungbyone.

  • 10th Waning day – attending a Nat audience
  • 11th Waning day – having a royal bath
  • 12th Waning day – ascending the throne
  • 13th Waning day – daughter of Mahagiri reels on the ground in grief
  • 14th Waning day – cutting down Htein trees


September falls in the months of Tawtalin and Thadingyut as per Myanmar calendar.


Boe Min Gaung Memorial Day Ceremony

Period 2nd Waning Day of Tawthalin (Late August or September)
Location Boe Min Gaung Shrine, Popa, Myanmar


It was said that Boe-Min-Gaung spent the last days of his life in meditation at a holy place called Mt. Popa. He is always remembered for his higher attainment in meditation practices. He was said to have found the way out of the worldly sufferings. To commemorate his attainment in meditation, his memorial day ceremony is annually held.


Manuha Pagoda Festival

Period Full moon day of Tawthalin (Late August or September)
Location Manuha Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar

manuha-baganThe three-day- long festival is the festival of Manuha Pagoda donated by King Manuha, last Mon Kingdom of Thatone, during when he was detained in Bagan after losing war with King Anawratha of Bagan. The Pagoda is situated at the Myinkaba village, near old Bagan, from where the captive King believed to get the financial support for building the Pagoda. Until nowadays, the villagers of Myinkaba village are the main sponsors of that festival by donating traditional foods to all the well wishers visiting that festival.

One of the highlights of the festival is the procession of colorful images of King Manuha, different kinds of animals made of paper and even some portraits of super star nowadays.


Myo Daunt Zedi Festival

Period 10th Waning Day of Tawthalin (Late August or September)
Location Shwebo, Myanmar

6-day festival
A famous market fair for the trading of local produce - tobacco, earthen wares, hand-woven cotton materials - and other products from upper Myanmar.


Oil Donating Ceremony

Period 8th waning day of Tawtalin (September)
Location Phar-Aut, Mawlamyaing, Myanmar

A traditional Mon ceremony. Monks move around villages to receive oil donations at the time of the first harvest. The oil is used for lamps.


Paungde Buddha Tooth Relic Procession

Period Full moon day of Tawthalin (Late August or September)
Location Paungde, Myanmar

The Buddha Tooth Relic, mounted on an elephant, is taken round the town on full moon day. During 3 days of festivities it is put on display for worshippers. After the ceremony, the relic is kept inside a guarded place.


Rice Donating Ceremony

Period 14th waxing day and full moon day of Tawthalin (Late August or September)
Location Padamyar Pagoda, Sagaing, Myanmar


Sacks of white rice donated from all around the country are given away in large volume. Nuns are presented on the 14th Waxing day and monks on full moon day. Children play of stone apples, 3 days before the ceremony is also a growing interest.


Suthaung Pyi Ceremony

Period 10th waning day of Tawthalin
Location Monywa, Sagaing Division, Myanmar

Suthaung Pyi, meaning wishful-filling Pagoda Festival is held in Taungthalin which falls in September. Over a thousand monks are invited and offertory bowls are given away on a grand scale.


October falls in the months of Thadingyut and Tansaungmone as per Myanmar calendar.


Kyaukse Dummy Elephant Dance Festival

Period 14th Waxing Day to full moon day of Thadingyut (October)
Location Kyaukse, Mandalay, Myanmar


The rhythmic dance competition and performance of life-size Dummy elephants holds from 14th Waxing Day to full moon day followed by the procession around the city.


Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival

Period 01st Waxing to 3rd Waning of Thadingyut – 18 Days Festival (September and/ or October)
Location Inle Lake, Shan State, Myanmar

phaungdawooThe Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival is the eighteen days long, colorful and magnificent procession of four out of five gilded Buddha images from Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. Those Buddha images were believed to be left there by King Alaung Si Thu of Bagan Dynasty. Annually, the grand scale procession starts from Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda by carrying four Buddha images on the decorated royal barge towed by leg-rowing boats and followed by hundreds of boats conveying around fourteen villages on the lake. Well wishers and villagers offer donations and pay homage to Buddha images around the procession and at night stop villages.

Leg-rowing boat races are one of the significant events to see during the festival time apart from the cultural shows and fun fairs.


Thadingyut Light Festival or The Festival of Lights

Period 14th Waxing Day to 01st Waning Day of Thadingyut (October)
Location Nation wide


This festival is to mark the day that Buddhists welcome Buddha back from realm of Celestial beings after spending three months long Lent there with his 500 disciples. Buddha's return is remembered and commemorated throughout the country with colorful illuminations. Full moon day of Thadingyut(October) marks the end of the Buddhist Lent.

Buddhists also go around and pay homage to their elders who in return give blessings and pocket money.


November falls in the months of Tansaungmone and Nattaw as per Myanmar calendar.


Hot Air Balloon Festival (Taunggyi)

Period 10th waxing to full moon day of Tazamone (November)
Location Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar


Taunggyi is the capital of Southern Shan State. At this particular place, hot-air balloon festival is annually held on grand scale. During the festival, there is a competition for hot-air balloons which are released day and night. Prizes are decided on attractiveness and height attained. During the day, animal figures are flown, and at night, there are fireworks and bamboo and gunpowder rockets launched, and lighted balloons are sent up as high as possible.


Shwezigon Pagoda Festival

Period Full moon day of Tazaungmone (November)
Location Shwezigon Pagoda, Nyaung U, Myanmar

Shwezigon Pagoda is one of the famous tourist attractions in Bagan that the visitors never fail to visit. The Pagoda festival is held in Tazaungmone which falls in March. Like other pagodas in Bagan and all around Myanmar, there is a big open Market full of stalls and shops selling local products and food, entertaining puppet shows and theatrical shows. On full moon day, there is a special event which is of religious significance. Like Ananda pagoda Festival, a great number of Buddhist monks are offered alms-bowls filled with food and crops by devotees. In Bagan and environs, Shwezigon Pagoda Festival and Ananda Pagoda Festiaval are the biggest and most well-known.


Tazaungdine Festival and robe weaving competition

Period Full moon day of Tazaungmone (November)
Location Around the country

Myanmar people celebrate Tazaundine festival one month after Thadingyut festival (Light festival), with many different activities on the full moon day of Tazaungmone. One of the major events is the overnight robe weaving competition and offers the finished robe at dawn to Buddha images. Such robes are called “Matho-thingan” meaning non-stale or fresh robe as those are done overnight before dawn and donated right away after finishing.

People believe that the full moon night of Tazaungmone is an auspicious time when Mezali flower-buds obtain medicinal qualities. So Mezali salad is a must supper for everyone on that night.

Another important event is Kathein Pwe, collective offerings of robes, food stuffs and gifts to monks. All the offerings are collected street by street and attached to the moveable stands called “Padesapin” (symbolizing the tree of Primeval days from which one could wish for and get everything one wishes). Those Padesapin are lined up in a procession and send to the selected monastery for donation. The robe offering during that period is called Kathein robe.


December falls in the months of Nattaw and Pyartho as per Myanmar calendar.


Nat Festival

Period Full moon day of Nattaw( December)
Location Mt.popa, Mandalay Division, Myanmar


Nattaw( pronounced Na-daw) is the 9th month of Myanmar Calendar which falls in December. “Nat”means “spirits” and “taw” means “royal” or “respectable”. So Nattaw means the month for worshipping nat-spirits. On full moon day of Nattaw, festival of Maga Giri Nat, considered as the household nat, is held at Mt. Popa near Bagan. Mt. Popa is the home of Nats and the most important centre for Nat worshipping. Thousands of country folks and nat-worshippers, with their joyous, light-hearted and merrymaking manner, participate in this particular festival. They propitiate the Nats with animals sacrifice and drinks during the festival however this practice has been stopped since Bagan period. Spirit possession and overall drunken ecstasy are part of the celebration.

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