Trying to plan where to be when? Check out these festivals in Southeast Asia in July!
(Featured image: The Rainforest World Music Festival)
The Rainforest World Music Festival – Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia
Traditional Sapé (Orang Ulu guitar), gongs and bamboo harps mingle with the ancient oud (an ancient string instrument). A thousand harmonies seemingly at odds and yet in unison, a world apart but here, one world, together. Every year, festival-goers all over the world flock to the mythical land of Sarawak, Borneo for the magical Rainforest World Music Festival. Read our article from 2012’s 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. Three days beginning at 2pm with workshops and lectures – and three nights crammed with concert after concert on the main stage. With its central lake, abundant flora, landscaped walkways, and surrounded by thick jungle and the legendary Mount Santubong, this is seriously one of the most breathtaking festival settings in the world!
It’s none too shabby from a music perspective, either. The RWMF has been voted one of the Top 25 Best International Festivals by world music magazine Songlines for the 4th year running. As well as international acts, there’s also a big traditional representation from Sarawak itself – from huge log drums and gongs to all kinds of innovative bamboo instruments, including the haunting sape, the boat-shaped lute. Dance to the rhythms of the rainforest, chill out under the canopies of the trees; drink, dine – then pick it up again at the Tree Stage ‘til late.
Bali Kite Festival – Sanur Beach, Bali, Indonesia
Traditionally held as a religious festival, this wonderful spectacle of an event is thought 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.
Kuala Lumpur Festival – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The KL Festival is a whole month of Malaysian culture and heritage. Around 50 performances, visual arts, traditional games, and language and literature events entertain locals and tourists all over Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.
Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent) – Myanmar, Laos, Thailand
Khao Phansa is one of the most important occasions in the Buddhist calendar that also marks the beginning of the rainy season across the kingdoms of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. Also known as the ‘Buddhist Rains Retreat,’ it’s a time when Buddhist monks retreat to the temple where they must remain 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 of growth and new life. It’s a time for study and meditation and is also considered an auspicious time for ordinations into monk hood. Celebrations take place across the country to commemorate the beginning of Khao Phansa.
Singapore Food Festival – Singapore
Food connoisseurs delight! 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 food glorious food, 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”.
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 Ratchatani to honour the everlasting faith of the people in Buddhism. The festival includes floats, special displays, cultural presentations and music and dancing. If you have been interested in learning about Buddhism and Meditation while you are in Thailand, this is a wonderful opportunity to find out more about traditional Thai beliefs in a beautiful, spiritual setting away from the tourists that can clutter the popular Chiang Mai at times.