Main Festivals in Myanmar (Burma)

January – Pyatho

The Ananda Pagoda Festival starts around the 2nd or 3rd of January and ends after the Pyatho full moon day (around the 16th-17th). The most crowded days tend to be 13th, 14th and 15th.

This is one of the most famous pagoda festivals in Bagan, which is one of the Asia's most amazing and richest archaeological sites. The Great Ananda Pagoda Festival is said to have been celebrated continuously since the Bagan period. In the beginning, people from the many villages around Bagan came to the festival in bullock-carts and camped for the whole duration of the festival. Even now, some villagers still come to the festival in the traditional way. Visitors can definitely enjoy the traditional lifestyle of the locals of Bagan during this festival. Bowls of alms filled with crops are offered to over one thousand monks.

February - Tabo-dwe

Tabo-dwe is the eleventh month of the Burmese calendar and the time to celebrate harvest festival. All the products of the farm and garden are made into Htamane, a concoction of glutinous rice, coconut slices, sesame seeds, peanuts and a generous amount of cooking oil.

March – Tabaung

Tabaung is the last month of Burmese calendar and dedicated to the festival of pagodas.

Shwedagon Pagoda festival

One of the highlights of the season in Yangon is the Shwedagon Pagoda festival – one of the wonders of the world. The pagoda is situated on Singuttara Hill and is about two miles north of the Port of Yangon. The Shwedagon Pagoda is Mynamar’s most notable landmark.

Inn-Daw-Gyi Pagoda festival
This pagoda is located in the northern part of Myanmar and situated on the Indawgyi Lake, the biggest natural lake in Myanmar. For most of the year, the pagoda is surrounded by water but in summer, a footpath leading to the pagoda surfaces, enabling pilgrims to walk to the pagoda.

Kek-Ku Pagoda festival
This stunning pagoda is located near Taunggyi in Shan States, and is celebrated with a traditional performance of Pa-O dance and singing contest.

Nan Pan Village Ceremony
Located by Inle Lake, Nan Pan is famous for its village market day. Watching the numerous monks who come in boats to receive food offerings is a striking experience.

April - Thingyan or the Water Festival

Burmese traditional festivals are based on the traditional Burmese calendar and dates are largely determined by the moon's phase.

The first month of the Myanmar calendar is in April (from April 13 to 16). Thingyan or the Water Festival lasts three or four days. Standing on bamboo stages erected along the streets, people splash water on passersby, while powerful water pipes douse anyone in a motor vehicle.

Children also use water pistols to drench their friends, relatives, and anyone else in range – only monks and the elderly are safe.

The water symbolises the washing away of the previous year's bad luck and sins. On New Year's Day (17 April), the water-throwing ends. This day is celebrated by releasing captive fish and birds as acts of merit, and special feasts are held for monks.

October – Thadingyut

Thadingyut Festival of Lights/ Myanmar Lantern Festival
Thadingyut (October) is the end of the Buddhist Lent or the rains retreat. It is the festival of lights. For the full-moon day, and for one day before and one day after, houses and streets in cities and towns are brilliantly illuminated. Pagodas are also crowded with people doing good deeds. It is not only a time of joy but also of thanksgiving – for playing homage to teachers, parents and elders, and asking pardon for whatever misdeeds in speech or thought may have been committed during the year. Forgiveness is readily given.

Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda Festival

The festival of Phaungdaw Oo pagoda in Inle Lake is held every year during the month of Thadingyut (October), and is the big event of the year. During this time, images of the Buddha from Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda are placed on a decorated royal barge called Karaweik (mythical bird) and taken around the lake, stopping at villages for people to pay homage. This colourful festival is full of pageantry, and there are funfairs, music, dances and boat races, where men and women row with their legs.

Elephant Dance Festival
En route from Yangon to Mandalay in Upper Myanmar, there lies a thriving town called Kyauk-se. Their annual Light Festival is held during the month of Thadingyut (October), and its main feature is the colourful elephant dance. Here, a life-size white paper elephant (decked with regal trappings and carrying a replica of the sacred Tooth of Buddha or some relics of an 'Arahat'), is followed by a black paper elephant as the finale of the procession. Each of the paper elephants is borne and animated by two men inside. The black paper elephant dances merrily to the procession music and is the centre of attraction during the carnival. Nowadays, the elephant dance is no longer confined to its native town but has become one of the key celebrations across the country.

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda Festival - The Golden Rock festival is celebrated around the middle of October. This special festival of lights celebration takes places at the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda – a spectacular small golden pagoda built on top of a granite boulder. The boulder seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. During the festival 9000 candles are lit and 9000 flowers offered to the Biuddha. On the next morning, rice, sweets and other snacks are offered.


Shwe-zi-gone Pagoda Festival – this festival is held around the first week of November for 23 days in Bagan. Candles and fireworks are carried in procession before offerings are made to the pagoda.

Hot Air Balloon Flying Festival – this festival takes place for around the first week of November in Taunggyi near Inle Lake. Hot air balloons fly day and night, and are judged on both their beauty and the altitude they gain.

During the day, you will see mostly small paper balloons, shaped like animals and built by "amateurs". At night, the paper balloons are very big, and carry a lot of candle and fireworks.

Pho-win-taung Ceremony
This festival is held in the middle of November and lasts for several days. The town on the western bank of the Chindwin River near Monywa is noted for its market, which specialises in leaves, roots, fruits, barks, thorns, tubers and stems from the western wildness of Chindwin River. The market is also famous for selling bronze utensils and religious artefacts.

December - Nat-taw

December is a month of ritual feasts in honour of Nats (spirits) and traditional family gods.

Mount Popa Nat Spirit Festival
Mount Popa is considered the most important Nat (spirit) worshipping centre and thousands of country folks and town people gather to celebrate. Thousands of animals used to be sacrificed to the Nats during the festival, however this practice was stopped after the Bagan period.