Trying to plan where to be when? Check out these festivals in South East Asia in December!
Header Photo: Angkor Photo Festival. Credit- Montana Rakz and Lam Duc Hien.
The Annual Angkor Photo Festival – Cambodia
The Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap kicks off at the beginning of December, and the week-long festival features over 100 photographers in a series of indoor and outdoor exhibitions as well as daily evening slideshow projections. The festival is the longest running photography event in Southeast Asia and the aim of the event is to nurture and promote young Asian talent, and encourage the development of photography in the region. All events are open to the public and free of charge. For more detailed info check out the events Facebook page!
Hmong New Year – Laos, Vietnam and Thailand
Early December sees a New Year celebration unique to the culture of the Hmong people, one of the largest ethnic groups residing in Northern Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. The event takes place at different times each year as the timing depends on the harvesting of the rice. The superstitious beliefs of the Hmong people mean that the festival must be at least three days long, as it is bad luck for events to last for an even number of days. Celebrations have been known to proceed for a month and a half!
Existing as both a religious and social event, it’s a huge festivity for the Hmong people, as it’s one of the only times that they have a break from farming during the year. Traditional performances, games and events are enjoyed by everyone in the community, so it’s also the perfect chance for the singletons of nearby villages to meet prospective spouses.
River Kwai Bridge Week – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Cultural performances, folk dances and a carnival atmosphere pervade the town of Kanchanaburi during the remembrance week of the world famous, River Kwai Bridge. Historical exhibitions and displays explain more about the history and a light and sound presentation enacts the World War II legacy.
Christmas (or Hari Natal) in the Philippines
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Although snow may be a little light on the ground and there ain’t a mince pie in sight, you’ll be sure to find the twinkle of Christmas Spirit in many places across Asia. Glitzy tinsel, plastic reindeer, Santa hats and even fake snowflakes may seem a little strange in the likes of Hanoi and Bangkok, but it seems the fun loving locals, don’t mind celebrating festivals traditionally deriving from other cultures; if it’s a jolly good excuse for a party that is!
The big question is, where’s the best place for a homesick backpacker to fill their stockings with festive cheer in Southeast Asia? If you’re looking to hang out with fellow countrymen, you can Full Moon it, Khao San Road it or head to any of the Thai islands where you’ll even be able to get a traditional Christmas dinner if you try! (Parts of the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia hold traditional Christmas celebrations, (known as Hari Natal) amongst the large Christian populace.)
Sunburn Festival – Pune, India
Taking place over three days, the Sunburn Festival is India’s biggest Electronic Dance Music Festival, held in the hilss of Kesnad, Pune in India. (It was previously held in Vagator, Goa.) Sunburn is Asia’s Premiere Dance Music Festival and was voted the World’s Number 9 music festival by CNN. With Goa being one the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Sunburn attracts enthusiasts from all over the globe to share the experience and their passion for Electronic Music. Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond and Axwell are a few of the names from previous line ups.
International New Year
As you backpack around Asia, you’ll find yourself at more than one New Year’s celebration…the lunar calendar, the Buddhist calendar, the Chinese calendar. However, the 31st is a big night everywhere in the world. Wherever you’ve chosen to spend the night, rest assured you’ll have a ball! Fireworks in cities, carnivals in towns, house parties in villages. Beach destinations cram with backpackers revved up for a night they plan to remember (but probably won’t after the first bucket!) Popular places include Koh Phangan for Full Moon Party, Koh Tao, Koh Chang’s Lonely Beach or chilled out Sihanoukville, Cambodia.