Southeast Asia Festivals

Calendar of Festivals Events in Southeast Asia

If you’re currently planning a trip to Southeast Asia, you’ll want to be aware of the best festivals happening across the region month by month. This calendar of Southeast Asian festivals and events is the perfect tool to help you plan your trip!

Also see –> 11 Top Festivals in Southeast Asia  |  Festivals in Thailand  |  Festivals in Vietnam | Top Places to Spend New Year’s Eve in Southeast Asia

Festivals in Southeast Asia | Month by Month


Thaipusam Festival – Malaysia

Thaipusam is one of the largest and most extravagant Hindu Festivals in Asia that is celebrated by millions of followers worldwide. The festival is held every January in honour of the Hindu God, Lord Murugan. In Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur and Penang are two of the most colourful places to observe the festivities, in particular at the Batu Caves on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Aguman Sanduk – Pampanga, Philippines

Local men in the town of Minalin in the province of Pampanga have a very interesting way of bringing in the New Year. To celebrate the 1st January there’s a huge cross-dressing parade which involves all the men in town. The festival dates back to 1934 when a group of men donned dresses to make their wives and daughters smile.

Bun Pha Vet – Laos

Bun Pha Vet is an important Buddhist Festival and a significant time of the year for friends and family in Laos to gather together. Tales of Buddha’s penultimate life as Prince Vessantara are recited throughout temples across the country and it’s considered a favourable time for Laos men to be ordained into monkhood.

International New Year

While not strictly an Asian festival, we wanted to mention 31st January in this list to make travellers aware that this can be a very busy time of year! Parties take place in towns, cities and islands across the region and accommodation gets booked up fast. For those wanting to party, there’s a special new years’ Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, as well as beach parties on several popular backpacker islands; Koh Chang, Koh Tao, the Gili Islands and Bali.


Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year marks the first day of the new moon and is a massive event celebrated by Chinese communities all over the world. Lasting for 15 days with unique celebrations and rituals taking place on each day, it’s a time for families to get together and exchange gifts. Homes are cleaned for the welcoming of spring, floral decorations and red paper lanterns are raised. Children are given gifts of money in lucky red envelopes and adults see it as a time to settle old debts and start afresh.

Tet – Vietnam

Tet Nguyen Dan (shortened to ‘Tet’) literally means ‘The Feast of the First Morning’ in Vietnamese and marks the beginning of spring. Derived from the Chinese New Year and celebrated at the same time, the rituals and festivities are very similar. There’s a focus on family reunions, settling old disagreements and starting afresh. In HanoiHo Chi Minh and other cities, you’ll find street parties and parades.

See more – Festivals in Vietnam.

Marha Puha: Laos

On the night of the Full Moon in February, Marha Puha festival is held to commemorate an inspirational speech given by the Buddha, in which he dictated the first monastic rules to over a thousand enlightened monks. In the talk, he also predicted his own death. Grand parades and the circling of temples with candles take place across the country, particularly in Laos’ capital Vientiane and in the Khmer ruins of Wat Phu near Pakse.

Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony – Thailand

Met the love of your life whilst backpacking? Why hesitate a moment longer? Give your folks at home a heart attack and tie the knot in a truly unique way at the Trang Underwater Wedding Ceremony. Held over Valentine’s Day, couples dressed in traditional wedding dress and suits, plunge 12 metres beneath the water to exchange bubbly vows.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.


Tattoo Festival at Wat Bang Phra, Thailand

Held during the first weekend in March at Wat Bang Phra (Temple of the Flying Tiger), Thailand’s famous tattoo festival is a must for anyone interested in sak yant tattoos. The night before the festival, thousands of people travel to the temple to get a ‘one-of-a-kind’ tattoo engraved onto their bodies by a monk. The next day, the new tattoos are ‘charged’ by the monks using a series of chanting mantras.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Perfume Pagoda Pilgrimage – Hanoi, Vietnam

The Perfume Pagoda is an impressive complex of Buddhist temples located near Hanoi. Legend has it that the site dates back 2,000 years when a Buddhist Monk began meditating here. The beautiful spot is the site of a religious festival, starting on 15th February and continuing throughout March. The event sees thousands of pilgrims make their way to the shrines built in caves into the mountains to pray for prosperity in the coming year.

See more – Festivals in Vietnam.

Nyepi – Bali, Indonesia

Nyepi commemorates the ‘Hindu Day of Silence’ and also marks the start of the Hindu New Year. For 24 hours starting at 6 am, you’ll find businesses across the island closed as the population observes a religious period of self-reflection. Bali’s usually bustling streets and beaches become empty with restrictions on travelling, entertainment, eating, working and even talking (foreigners are also expected to participate). Bali’s only airport is closed for the day.

Panagbenga Festival – Baguio, Philippines

Panagbenga Festival or “festival of the flower” has been celebrated in Baguio for generations. Locals in this mountain city come out from their houses to celebrate the arrival of a new season and the blooming of the new flowers around the town! This festival is one of the biggest flower festivals in the world and attracts people from all over the world.

See more – Festivals in the Philippines.

Male’an Sampi – Lombok, Indonesia

With ‘Male’an’ meaning ‘to chase’ and ‘Sampi’ meaning cow, in local ‘Sasak’ language, you can pretty much guess what this festival entails! An annual tradition on the Muslim island of Lombok, the event sees a series of cattle races taking place on a soggy race track 100 metres long and is a favourite amongst local families.

See more – Festivals in Indonesia.


April brings Buddhist New Year across Southeast Asia and each country has its unique celebration. Here’s a short guide to each event…

Songkran – Buddhist New Year in Thailand

What better way to cool off in the sweltering temperatures of Thailand’s hot period than an enormous water fight!? Songkran is the welcoming of the Thai New Year and is symbolically a time for new beginnings. Traditionally, people would sprinkle water on each other to symbolise spiritual cleansing. Nowadays, however, it’s super soakers and ice buckets all the way!

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Chaul Chnam Thmey – Buddhist New Year in Cambodia

A three-day event celebrated across the country at the same time as the Thai Songkran. Religious ceremonies take place at shrines and people build small sandhills on temple grounds decorated with five religious flags to symbolise Buddha’s five disciples. As in Thailand, ‘water blessings’ occur as Cambodians sprinkle holy water on each other’s faces in the morning, the chest at noon and the feet in the evening. Soakings are also common!

Pee Mai – Buddhist New Year in Laos

After the hottest period in Laos, the celebrations not only welcome in the New Year but mark the beginning of the monsoon season. Water plays a major role as a symbol of ‘cleansing’ as homes, Buddha images and people are blessed. You’ll see ‘sand stupas’ created on temple grounds similar to those in Cambodia. Like all New Year festivals, the emphasis is on having fun and getting wet! (All for good luck of course!)

Thingyan – Burmese New Year in Myanmar

Celebrated for four-five days, this New Year’s celebration also involves throwing water (surprise surprise!). In more rural areas the tradition involves the sprinkling of scented water in a silver bowl using sprigs of jambul (cumin). However, in cities and towns, there’s a festive atmosphere akin to Songkran in Thailand and guaranteed if you’re visiting you’re in for a good soaking! You’ll also come across street performances by dancers, puppeteers and comedians.

The Bali Spirit Festival – Indonesia

An international celebration of yoga, dance, and music, the BSF blooms every year on the island of Bali in a beautiful venue surrounded by rice fields, jungle and temples. Every day and evening, there are hundreds of workshops for yoga, dance, breathwork and music that attract up to 7,000 yoga fanatics each year.


Waisak – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Held on the night of the full moon in May, Waisak is a Buddhist festival celebrated throughout the island of Java. The festival is also known as ‘Tri Suci Waisak (Three Holy Events), signifying the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha under the Bodhi tree. The most prominent celebration of Wisak takes place at the spectacular 9th Century Buddhist monument, Borobudur in Yogyakarta.

Boun Bang Fai Rocket Festival – Laos

This fun and noisy festival is held at the beginning of May to mark the beginning of the rainy season. Since ancient times it’s been performed by those working on the land to request rain from the ‘Phaya Thaen’ (Rain God). Villages across the country gather to create huge rockets made out of bamboo and then shoot them up into the skies. The winner of the highest rocket gets prestige throughout the land.

Chanthaburi and Rayong Fruit Festival – Thailand

Held once a year, during the best season for ripeness and flavour, this festival is a great opportunity to fill up on vitamins whilst having a great day out. Succulent, thirst-quenching mangosteen or rich, creamy durian? Tangy langsat or sweet, pulpy jackfruit? Visitors to the festival can indulge their taste buds with a delicious assortment of exotic Thai fruits in all you can eat buffets!

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Koh Samui Regatta – Koh Samui, Thailand

The annual Koh Samui Regatta is a huge sailing event that attracts over 200 participating teams and thousands of boat lovers from all over the world. Over five days, there are a variety of races taking place around the island including long-distance racing, short sprint racing and cruising displays. Expect a fun-filled event, with plenty of partying on dry land too.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Cheung Chau Buddhist Bun festival – Hong Kong

Climbing a 20m-high rocket-shaped tower for a chance to grab hold of some Buddhists’ buns sounds like exactly the right way to get yourself into a lot of trouble in Hong Kong. In fact, that’s exactly what competitors of this festival will be doing at midnight on the Buddha’s birthday public holiday in front of Pak Tai Temple. All participants maintain a strict vegetarian diet for three days in the run up to the festival. Parades, stilted walkers and floats are also involved.

Usaba Sambah (Bali’s Fighting Festival) – Indonesia

If you’re seeking traditional music, performance, comedy, romance or downright brutal combat Usaba Sambah has it all. The festival, also known as ‘Bali’s Fighting Festival’ is held during the fifth month of the Balinese calendar, usually May, in the walled Tenganan Dauh Tukad village in Bali. As one of the island’s most ancient villages, Tenganan hosts some of Bali’s oldest ceremonies and rites, which are just as important to the culture today as when they originated.

Pulilan Carabao Festival – Philippines

Every year on May 14-15, the residents of Pulilan take two days out to repay their family buffaloes for all their hard work. How? With some serious pampering of course! After a day of cleaning, shaving and grooming, the buffalo are treated with massages (complete with aromatic oil!) and adorned with crowns of sweetly perfumed frangipani and hibiscus. Some of the buffaloes are then brightly painted and paraded through the streets in a procession of floats.


Bali Arts Festival – Bali, Indonesia

Taking place over an entire month (mid-June to mid-July), this festival is a unique extravaganza of arts, music, dance and history celebrating pride in Balinese culture. Amongst other performances, famous masked dances originating from tribal villages are showcased and ancient classic stories retold. There’s a vibrant atmosphere all across the island as celebrations are enjoyed by locals and travellers alike.

Ramadan – Malaysia and Indonesia

For Muslims all over the world, Ramadan is of huge importance. Ramadan in Southeast Asia is particularly observed in Muslim nations Indonesia and Malaysia. During this period (May or June) all Muslims observe fast from dawn until dusk and restaurants are closed during the day. The fasting period ends with ‘Eid’ a huge celebratory feast, commemorated by over one billion Muslims around the world. According to tradition, Ramadan marks the time when the Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Gawai Dayak Festival – Sarawak, Malaysia

Gawai Dayak is held every June in the longhouses of lowland tribes in Sarawak to celebrate the New Year and harvest. (In local language, Gawai means festival, while Dayak is the name for the native ethnic groups of Sarawak.) During this time, families get together for a few days, with weddings often taking place. Feasts, songs around the fire, ancient tribal stories, animal sacrifice, and lots of betel nut chewing and drinking of the local moonshine, Borak, are to be expected!

Phi Ta Khon Festival – Loei province, Thailand

Unique to Northeastern Thailand, this festival is similar to the Western Halloween where locals don eerie spirit masks, wear phantom costumes and strange hats, while children play tricks in the street. The festival commemorates an old Buddhist tale, in which villagers hold a celebration for the return of their Prince from banishment. It is said that they made so much noise that the dead are awakened from their graves and came out to party!

See more – Festivals in Thailand. 

Singapore Arts Festival – Singapore

The Singapore Arts Festival is a dynamic event showcasing local and international talent. There are dance and musical performances, theatre showings, talks, historic presentations, art displays and more. As well as headliner performances from internationally renowned artists and troupes, Singapore becomes lit up by outdoor, late-night and children’s shows spread throughout the city for three weeks.


We The Fest – Jakarta, Indonesia

We The Fest is an annual summer festival that celebrates music, art, fashion and food! The festival takes place this July over three days in Indonesia’s cosmopolitan capital of Jakarta. Since its creation in 2014, the festival has played host to an excellent of international stars and homegrown talent. Some of the big names include The Kooks, Ellie Goulding, Mark Ronson, Big Sean, Dua Lipa, The 1975, and The Temper Trap.

The Rainforest World Music Festival – Sarawak, Malaysia

Every year, festival-goers all over the world flock to the mythical land of Sarawak, Borneo for the magical Rainforest World Music Festival. As well as performances from some world-renowned performers, there’s an array of daytime music workshops and jamming sessions that take place at the gorgeous 17-acre Sarawak Cultural Village, just 35km outside of Kuching, a stone’s throw away from the quiet beach resort area of the Santubong Peninsula.

Bali Kite Festival – Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia

The aim of this festival is to send signals to the Hindu Gods to create plentiful harvests in the coming year. Kites of all different shapes, sizes and colours take to the skies above Bali, with some of the kites measuring up to 10 metres in length. Teams from local villages battle it out in competitions for best launch and longest flight. There is live music in the form of a Gamelan orchestra throughout the festival and hundreds of spectators.

Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent)

Khao Phansa is one of the most important times in the Buddhist calendar that also marks the beginning of the rainy season across most of Southeast Asia. Also known as the ‘Buddhist Rains Retreat,’ it’s a time when Buddhist monks retreat to the temple where they stay for a period of three months. Traditionally, this was so that they would not be in danger of treading on young plants, which sprout during this season.

Singapore Food Festival – Singapore

A festival dedicated to the pleasure of eating delicious delicacies from all over the world. (And your parents were worried you’d come back skinny and undernourished from your travels!) Each street serves up a unique range of cuisine and there’s a festive atmosphere in the air. As well as feasting, there are also cultural activities; street shows in Chinatown, riverboat cruises, music and entertainment.

Banana Festival – Tagum, Davao del Norte, The Philippines

Taking place in Davao del Norte, the country’s leading producer of bananas, the fun-filled Banana Festival is a ten-day festival with lots of festivities and fairs, with street dancing and an agricultural trade fair to highlight Davao del Norte as “banana country”. Expect fun banana inspired snacks and costumes!

The Candle Festival – Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

This is a deeply spiritual festival following Khao Pansa, or Buddhist Lent, when a great candle procession parades through the streets of Ubon Ratchathani to honour the everlasting faith of the people in Buddhism. The festival includes floats, special displays, cultural presentations and music and dancing.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.


Hungry Ghost Festival – Chinese communities in SE Asia

During the month of August, Chinese people believe that the ghosts of their ancestors descend to earth to wander the earth in search of food. Although you may not actually bump into one of the ghosts, you will encounter the festival alive and well in Chinese communities across SE Asia from Phuket, Thailand, to Penang, Malaysia. You’ll see offerings left outside temples and houses to appease the hungry ghosts. There are also Chinese Opera performances and puppet shows.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Metatah (Tooth Filing Ceremony) – Bali, Indonesia

Metatah is an interesting ritual carried out by Balinese Hindus, that generally takes place during this time of year. The ceremony marks the passage from childhood to adulthood and filing the teeth is said to cleanse the body and mind of invisible evil spirits. Balinese belief systems view teeth as a symbol of lust, greed, anger and jealousy, among other vices.

George Town Festival – Penang, Malaysia

George Town Festival is a month-long celebration of art, music, theatre, dance, opera and film to commemorate George Town’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage listing on 7 July 2008. Each year since 2009, GTF transforms Penang’s only city into an exciting and unique platform for the arts, heritage and culture. The festival creative local talents and internationally acclaimed performances of art, theatre, music, dance, opera and film screenings.

Indonesian Independence Day

Indonesia gained their independence from the Dutch on 17th August 1945. To celebrate their independence, each year, neighbourhoods across the country hold street parties and friendly contests. Games include climbing oily trees to reach gifts placed in the branches, the sack race and biting the krupuk (using your mouth to collect coins from a melon covered in black slippery oil). Fun for all the family!

Merdeka Day – Malaysia’s Independence Day

Throughout the country, Merdeka Day is a time of national pride and a celebration of cultural heritage. The event commemorates Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957. Particularly in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, there are parades, performances and events taking place. Head to Independence Square (Merdeka Square) to witness the celebrations.

Taungbyone Nat Festival – near Mandalay, Myanmar

Although Nat Festivals (Spirit Festivals) are held across the country regularly, the one at Taungbyone is definitely the biggest event of the year. The festival is known to be popular with the LGBTQ crowd as many Nats (spiritual mediums) are gay or transpeople. Thousands of pilgrims descend on this small village to get their fortunes told or have good luck bestowed upon them. 

Mid-Autumn Festival – Vietnam

Tet-Trung-Thu, or the Mid-Autumn (Harvest) Festival, is an important time for families and particularly children. The festival originates from a folktale about parents working so hard to get ready for harvest they forgot about their kids! Mid-Autumn Festival became a time when parents would make it up to them. There’s a festive atmosphere in many cities as lights and flowers adorn the streets, toy shops stock their shelves and people flock to buy mooncakes.

See more – Festivals in Vietnam.


The Phuket Vegetarian Festival – Phuket, Thailand

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival occurs over 10 days with a series of celebrations through the streets of Phuket’s Old Town. It’s the sixth day that has long been a favourite of photographers the world over. On this day, devotees partake in incredible feats of body piercing, as well as acts such as walking barefoot on hot coals or climbing ladders made of blades. During such self-torture, it is said that Gods can enter the body and evil spirits are dispelled from town!

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireball) – Thailand

Miracle or hoax? This unusual spectacle occurs on the Mekong River in Nong Khai, on the border of Thailand and Laos and has baffled even the most sceptical onlookers! On the night of the full moon, at the end of Buddhist lent, thousands of people congregate on the banks of the river to watch burning red fireballs ascend from the surface of the water into the night sky. Locals believe this phenomenon is caused by Naga, the great serpent of the underworld who lives in the river.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Deepavali – Malaysia

Deepavali, often known as the ‘Festival of Lights,’ is one of the most important events in the Hindu calendar. Celebrated in Hindu communities throughout Asia, the festival signifies the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. Candles and lanterns are lit to guide the souls of the deceased back to their loved ones during this time. Many Hindus pray, fast or observe strict diets during the weeks before the festival.

Chonburi Buffalo Racing – Thailand

Each year at the beginning of October, the Chonburi Buffalo Races are a series of highly competitive sprints taking place in front of the town’s Municipal Office. Crowds of people gather to cheer their favourites to victory in an event that has been known to feature on the BBC and CNN.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Thimithi (Firewalking Ceremonies) – Malaysia and Singapore

Thimithi is the Hindu ritual of firewalking which has its origins in South India. Its roots lie in the Indian epic, the Mahabharata, as the ceremony is said to commemorate an event where the character, Draupadi walks over a bed of coals to prove her purity and emerges as a fresh flower. Thimithi ceremonies occur at temples across Singapore and Malaysia. It is believed that a strong devotion will overcome the danger of getting burnt. 

Awk Pansa (End of Buddhist Lent)

Awk Pansa literally means ‘leaving the period of rain’ and is celebrated all over Thailand, Laos and Myanmar on the night of the full moon in October. Rooted in agricultural tradition ‘Awk Pansa’ indicates the start of a new season and controls the planting of crops. In many parts of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, Awk Pansa is celebrated with a series of boat processions and races.

P’chum Ben – Cambodia

P’chum Ben takes place on the fifteenth day of the tenth month in the Cambodian calendar. It is the time of the year when Khmer people believe that the spirits of dead ancestors rise and walk the earth. Offerings are made at temples as early as 4 am as people give food to the spirits to ease their suffering. Sticky rice is thrown on the ground as it’s said to be the easiest food for them to consume.

See more – Festivals in Cambodia.

Bali Vegan Festival

Established by Down To Earth Bali in 2015, the Bali Vegan Festival has been growing in size and scope each year. The weekend plays host to scores of activities including cooking classes, raw vegan dessert workshops, yoga and meditation, live music, healing sessions, movie screenings and children’s activities to boot.

See more – Festivals in Indonesia.


Loi Krathong (Festival of Lights) – Thailand

One of the most enchanting and magical festivals in the Thai calendar, takes place on the night of the full moon in November, marking the end of the rainy season. Night skies all across the country become illuminated as glowing lanterns are floated into the air and rivers and lakes glisten with candles as tiny boats (Krathong) are set afloat. In Chiang Mai, the festival is also known as Yi Peng Lantern Festival and is the most impressive in the country.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Mae Jo Lantern Release – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Part of the Yi Peng celebrations, taking place on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, the Yi Peng ‘mass lantern release’ is a favourite amongst photographers. The event is extremely popular and you must buy a ticket to reserve your place. Getting to and from the site is also a challenge in the traffic. However, the stress is worth it. The release is truly a sight to behold with thousands of lanterns launched into the sky simultaneously.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Bon Om Touk (Water Festival) – Cambodia

The Water Festival (or Bon Om Touk in Khmer) begins on the night of the full moon in November, marking the end of the rainy season in Cambodia. The event celebrates the amazing natural phenomenon of the reversing flow of the Tonle Sap River. Not only is it an important cultural event, it indicates the beginning of a plentiful fishing season for many Cambodians who rely on the water as a vital life source.

That Luang Festival – Vientiane, Laos

That Luang Festival takes place in Laos’ capital, Vientiane, on the day of the full moon in November. Before the break of dawn, thousands of Buddhists surround the golden temple to say prayers and give alms to the monks who have travelled from all across the country for the event. As the sun rises, the tradition is to circle the stupa three times in an anti-clockwise direction. Flower processions, market stalls, live music and dancing included.

Angkor Photo Festival – Cambodia

The annual Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap usually kicks off in November or December. The week-long festival features 100+ photographers in a series of indoor and outdoor exhibitions as well as daily evening slideshow projections. There are also workshops for budding photographers. The aim of the event is to nurture and promote young Asian talent. All events are open to the public and free of charge.


Hmong New Year – Laos, Vietnam and Thailand

This New Year celebration is unique to the Hmong people, one of the largest ethnic groups of Northern Southeast Asia. The event takes place at different times each year as the timing depends on the harvesting of the rice. Traditional performances and games are enjoyed by everyone in the community, so it’s also the perfect chance for the singletons of nearby villages to meet prospective spouses. Celebrations have been known to last for over 6 weeks!

See more – Festivals in Vietnam.

River Kwai Bridge Week – Kanchanaburi, Thailand

Cultural performances, folk dances and a carnival atmosphere descends upon 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.

See more – Festivals in Thailand.

Christmas (or Hari Natal) in the Philippines

Although Christmas is not officially celebrated in Southeast Asia, you’ll still find the twinkle of Christmas spirit in many places. Christmas trees, plastic reindeer and fake snow definitely feel a bit out of place in a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur (see photo)! Parts of the Philippines, East Timor and Indonesia do hold traditional Christmas celebrations (known as Hari Natal) amongst the large Christian populace.)

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