Festivals are one of the best ways to discover the soul of the destination and what its people hold most dear to their heart. Here are some not-to-be-missed festivals across our region.
Bikes and booze
The annual Gears and Beers Festival in Australia’s Wagga Wagga city promotes health, fitness and fun for all ages, comprising a community cycle challenge (for all levels) and beer event where handcrafted beers and ciders from around the region take centre stage. Teetotallers can opt for locally roasted coffee instead.
Participants can also indulge in great food fare while enjoying musical entertainment, making this a fun day out with family and friends. Registration is required.
When: October 1 & 2, 2022
Where: Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
For over 800 years, the Tsurugi Horai Festival has been celebrated during the mid-autumn season, where local men carry the mikoshi (a portable shrine) around town and bless important households in exchange for offerings. The most exciting part of the festival is the parade of floats carried on the shoulders of the townspeople that follow behind the mikoshi.
Lion dances called shishimai are performed, with the lion defeated by the bakumen monster at the end. This stunning act is usually accompanied by a flute and shamisen (three-stringed instrument) performance. After which, everyone can patronise the many food stalls lining the streets.
When: October 8-10, 2022
Where: Tsurugi, Hakusan, Japan
The mask-making industry in Bacolod City is home to the famous MassKara Festival, a well-loved event filled with concerts, fashion shows, fun runs, talent nights, pageant, garden shows, drum competitions, and more.
Different barangays of Bacolod take part in street dance competitions where participants put on colourful masks. MassKara means ‘multiple faces’ in Spanish, and the festival originated in the 1980s to raise the spirits of people who were hit with hardship and tragedy.
The celebrations last the whole month, with the main highlight held on October 23.
When: October 23, 2022
Where: Bacolod City, the Philippines
Sizzle and sparkle
This year marks the 17th year for the iconic Busan Fireworks Festival, an event that has been attracting more international visitors over the past years. The Gwangan Bridge provides the backdrop while colourful fireworks fill up the night sky and can be seen from the famous Gwangalli Beach, Hwangnyeong Mountain and Dongbaek Island.
Programmes include multimedia shows combined with fireworks, lighting, music and storytelling to make it a night to remember.
When: November 5, 2022
Where: Busan, South Korea
Looking to the sky
The sky is the limit with the Hot Air Balloons & Fireworks Festival in Taunggyi this November. Marking the end of the rainy season, the Burmese launch thousands of balloons into the sky to ward off evil spirits.
Attracting more than 20,000 spectators each year with its delicate paper balloons that come in a variety of designs like animals, birds, and mythological characters, participants can enjoy the colourful spectacle and immerse in the culture of Myanmar. It is a sight to behold when all the balloons are released at once in the night, followed by a fireworks display.
When: November 6 & 7, 2022
Where: Taunggyi, Shan State, Myanmar
Rhythm of the river
The Ghe Ngo Boat Race is the highlight of the moon festival, Ok om Bok, which signifies the end of the Khmer year. During the event, groups of men and women race traditional Khmer boats called ghe ngo – a boat that is 30m in length and 1.5m wide – to the sounds of drums, trumpets, cheers and applause from the audience along both sides of Maspero River.
When: November 8 & 9, 2022
Where: Soc Trang, Vietnam
Free as a bird
Bird lovers will rejoice at the return of the Putrajaya Bird Race 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to Covid.
Held at the Putrajaya Wetlands, the area is home to over 2,000 water birds from a total of 203 bird species.
The event is open to both children and adults, with exciting activities such as the main bird race, photography sessions, bird exhibitions, mimicry contest, craft products and even a bird colouring contest for kids!
When: November 19 & 20, 2022
Where: Putrajaya, Malaysia
For the love of art
ART SG, set to be the leading art fair in South-east Asia, will be housed in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre early next year. It will feature over 150 visionary and exciting contemporary art from around the world, including installations, experimental film, talks and performances.
ART SG will showcase three gallery sectors: Galleries, Focus and Futures.
The event aims to create an immersive place of exploration for all art collectors.
When: January 12-15, 2023
Turn up the music
WOMAD NZ returns in 2023 after two years. Held in the TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park, this is one of the world’s longest-running and best-established cultural festivals.
Get ready for three days of music, arts, and dance, and experience the world through music, multiculturalism, art, workshops and food.
Participants can camp out in their own tents or motorhomes – there are also glamping options, VIP packages as well as a stay in the Tepee Life Village for a tribal experience. Registration is required.
When: March 17-19, 2023
Where: New Plymouth, New Zealand
Wild and wet
Drawing many international visitors to Thailand is the Songkran Festival Phuket. Celebrating the new year with water as a symbol of renewal, home rituals include sprinkling family members with water, to adding a few drops on Buddha for good luck. The fun starts once people gather on the streets for fun and celebratory mutual splashing.
Starting gently in the morning, the Songkran wet street parties can turn to water battles in the afternoon or a total wet war zone by night. Other less aggressive activities are folk performances, games, and building sand pagodas.
A sweeter side to the festival is the releasing of birds and fish back to their natural habitats, a symbol of giving freedom and hopes of good fortune.
When: April 13-15, 2023
Where: Phuket, Thailand