Below you will find a list of the biggest local and nationwide festivals in Myanmar in 2018; note that this is not a full list of all festivals, as there are too many around the country to include all of them here. For more background, go to festivals, music and entertainment.
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Bo Bo Gyi Nat Festival
Bo Bo Gyi was a highly respected alchemist who is now revered as a nat, or a Burmese spirit. On the eve of the ceremony, pilgrims throw small packets of tea leaves at one another; if you are hit by a tea packet, you must visit again the following year to pay respects.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
The biggest yearly gathering in Shan State, the Phaung Daw Oo festival takes place over two weeks, during which a golden barge holding four Buddha images is pulled by hundreds of leg-rowers around Inle Lake, visiting every village on the water. There are martial arts and rowing competitions, and plenty of music and dancing.
Thadingyut Festival of Lights
This festival is held at the end of Buddhist Lent to commemorate the Buddha returning to earth; as this happened at night, people around the country decorate their houses with coloured lanterns.
Kyaiktiyo Pagoda Festival
Held at Mount Kyaiktiyo, one of Myanmar’s holiest sites, during the Thadingyut Festival of Lights, this festival involves an evening of pilgrims lighting 9,000 candles and flower offerings to the Buddha. The following morning, there is a food offering.
Kaunghmudaw Pagoda Festival
This five day festival is centered on one of the most venerated sites central Myanmar, the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda. Monks perform rituals, there are Yokhte (marionette) performances and farmers gather from the surrounding area to sell their produce.
Taunggyi Fire Balloon Festival
Shwezigon Pagoda Festival
This festival is one of Bagan’s biggest yearly events and its centrepiece is the alms-giving ceremony to many hundreds of monks who gather at the Shwezigon Pagoda from the monasteries in the surrounding area. It also features theatre shows and traditional dancing.
Pyin Oo Lwin balloon festival
Similar to the Taunggyi Balloon Festival but smaller in scale, this event remains great fun and isn’t as hectic and crowded as its big brother. It also offers balloon competitions through the day and evening.
Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights
This festival predates the introduction of Buddhism to Myanmar, marking the end of the monsoon and the end of the Kathina season, when monks are offered alms and new robes.