The Summer festival season is the perfect time to explore and experience new cultures. One of our favourite places to dive into culture and traditions when the weather’s great is Southeast Asia. Not only are the countries beautiful and the people friendly, but there are enough festivals during the season that you can’t possibly cover it all in a year. You’ll surely have to come back and visit again. Check out our top 5 festivals and pick your favourite:
Two worlds collide in Borneo each July at the Rainforest World Music Festival. The three-day festival combines workshops, lectures and world-famous musicians with lakes, flowers and some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Widely recognized as one of the best festivals in the world, the RWMF attempts to execute on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Between food composting, upcycling and an industry leading waste management strategy, RWMF is on a quest to have a zero-waste festival by 2020.
The atmosphere is bright and cheerful on Sanur Beach in Bali as giant kites take to the sky. Teams of between 70-80 people gather each July to fly traditional leaf, fish and bird shaped kites as a sign of praying and giving thanks to the Hindu Gods for abundant harvest. Teams compete to see who can have the best launch and have their kite fly for the longest amount of time. Each team is accompanied by their own band and the entire event creates an energy that has to be seen to be believed.
A month long festival that celebrates all things food, the Singapore Food Festival is the perfect example of a festival that will make you want to come back year after year. During the month of July, the streets of Singapore turn into a foodie paradise with each street offering up a different set of sweet or savoury treats. With different food-themed events taking place every day in different parts of the city, this festival is an amazing opportunity to explore the sights and sounds while treating your taste buds.
Dating back to the 3rd century, the Hungry Ghost Festival is commemorated across Asia as a way to honour departed relatives. Occurring on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar, family members offer food and drink to their deceased family members as it is believed that this is the one day in a year that they can receive gifts in the afterlife. Live events and concerts are held throughout the day with special sections of seats reserved for ghosts. Additionally, lotus-shaped lanterns are lit and set afloat on rivers and seas as a way to guide the souls of forgotten ancestors to the afterlife.
Malaysian Independence Day is celebrated every year on August 31st and marks Malaysia gaining its independence from the British Empire in 1957. A day long celebration of national pride and cultural heritage, the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur plays host to parades, performances and celebratory events. Each year’s celebration is based around a unique theme that honours Malaysia from a patriotic perspective. Our tip: visit Independence Square as it is the perfect place to take it in all of the day’s big events.
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