MYANMAR PUBLIC HOLIDAYS for 2018
Myanmar is an amazing place to visit and to partake in some of the most unique festivals in the world. There is always something exciting happening in the country. Every Full Moon day is a holiday. Most of the festivals are cultural and religious, with the majority of festivals celebrated across the nation. Individual states also hold their own festivals and have their own dates for public holidays.
Public Holidays in 2018
04 January Independence Day, Thursday
12 February Union Day, Monday
2 March Peasants’ Day, Friday
1 March Full Moon Day of Tabaung, Thursday
27 March Armed Forces Day, Tuesday
12 April Myanmar New Year Holiday, Thursday
13-16 April Water Festival (Thingyan) long holiday
17 April Myanmar New Year Day, Tuesday
1 May May Day, Tuesday
29 April Full Moon Day of Kason, Sunday
27 June Full Moon Day of Waso, Wednesday
19 July Martyr’s Day, Thursday
24 October Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, Wednesday
22 November Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone, Thursday
02 December National Day, Sunday
25 December Christmas Day, Tuesday
(Note: Kayin New Year does not occur in 2018. However, this holiday will be celebrated twice in 2019.)
MYANMAR CULTURAL & RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS 2018
ANANDA TEMPLE FESTIVAL, BAGAN
29 December 2017 – 01 January 2018 (12th Waxing Day to 8th Waning of Pyatho)
One of the biggest events on the Bagan Calendar, the Ananda Temple Festival features a huge variety of dance, plays, songs, and even the fascinating play of Anyeints: a performance which lasts for several hours and provides an interesting mix of comedy with traditional puppetry. This happening is also a popular place for those who come to buy and sell all kinds of goods. About four or five days before full moon, the caravans of bullock carts from villages around Bagan are coming to the festival, camping out around Ananda Temple for about a week, making the area looks like a country fair. Like other religious festivals in Myanmar, the event at the full moon day is the highlight of the festival. Starting from early morning around 6 a.m., over a thousand of monks from villages in the vicinity arrive to accept the offering of filled alms bowls. This activity usually finished around 9.30 a.m.
NYAN TAW PAGODA FESTIVAL (SHWE MYIN TIN PAGODA), PYIN OO LWIN
30 December 2017– 01 January 2018 (13th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabodwe)
Like most pagoda festivals in Myanmar, the Nyantaw Pagoda Festival features all the colour, life along with song and dance that makes these incredible events so interesting. Many Shan and other hill tribes come down to sell their products.
MANAW FESTIVAL, MYITKYINA/BAHMO, KACHIN STATE
10 January 2018
Being the one main event of the area, almost all different clans of Kachin Race gather in Myitkyina to rejoice during Manaw Festival. Originally, this festival is a tradition of animist beliefs to show gratitude to ancestral spirits and pray for a bright future. Usually held in 10th January on Kachin State Days, now the festival is a mere celebration of New Year, a reunion of tribes, and a commemoration of victory in battles. Everyone comes to the festival wearing their best traditional costumes. The main feature of the festival is when all participants join a spiritual dance, lined up behind one another around the erected Manaw poles, quite similar to the totem poles of North American Indians. Since there are many guests, only chieftains (Duwa) are capable of bearing the expense. A historical record mentions the slaughtering of 14 buffaloes, 20 cows, 20 pigs, 50 chickens, 200 baskets of rice and 4,500 bottles of spirits used in organizing one such festival.
NAGA NEW YEAR’S FESTIVAL, SAGAING REGION
12 – 18 January 2018
Hidden deep in north-western Myanmar, in the vicinity of Chin Hills, Nar-ga villages are spreading around small towns of Lahe, Layshi, Hkamti and Nanyun. Until now, the area is very remote and logistically difficult to access, and that’s what inspires curious adventurers of the world. Nar-ga New Year Festival takes place from 14th to 15th January every year. It is essentially a thanksgiving ceremony to Mother Earth for a bountiful harvest, and the time, once in the whole year, when different tribes meet to sing, dance and feast. On the first day, an opening ceremony is held and traditional dancing takes place to the superb backdrop of stunning bonfires. The next day, competitions consist of traditional sports and gathering of Nar-ga sub-tribes. The event concludes with a celebration of rice wine and roasted meat and incredible tribal dances performed to the beat of a drums.
KYAIK KHAUK PAGODA FESTIVAL, THANLYIN (SYRIAM), NEAR YANGON
24 January 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabodwe)
Located at Kyaik Khauk Pagoda, the atmosphere of the Golden Hilltop Festival is remarkably similar to a fun fair. Visitors will find a large variety of stalls that offer delicious local cuisine, clay pots, furniture, bamboo mats. Performances continue to well after dark, and villagers travel from all around by ox-carts to join in the fun and excitement of this colorful festival.
TABODWE HAPPENINGS, WHOLE COUNTRY
31 January 2018 (Full Moon Day of Tabodwe)
Tabodwe is the 11th month in the Myanmar Lunar Calendar; it is a month of the new harvest in Myanmar. Throughout the country during this month, large quantities of a glutinous rice based savory snack called “Htamane” are prepared to be used as an offering of new harvest to pagodas and monks, to friends and neighbors, to gain merit. In some parts, Htamane feast include various friendly competitions. However, the celebration is organized either communally or in private circles; dates and sizes of the event vary. The best part of the activity is how this seasonal delicacy is made with great team spirit, how much effort is put to get the best Htamane, and how the audience encourages and motivates the contenders during the process. It’s also a chance for travelers to experience true Myanmar hospitality.
MAHAMUNI PAGODA FESTIVAL, MANDALAY
30– 31 January 2018 (13th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabodwe)
This colorful festival generally lasts for two weeks with renowned Mahamuni Buddha Image at the center of activities. Many Buddhists from around the country make the pilgrimage. Incense sticks are burnt to worship Buddha. A number of local shops and food stalls are set up, especially in the evening and at night; giving all visitors to the festival a chance to see interesting local plays, dances and songs. One of the unique features of Mahamuni Festival is Htamane contests taking place in the pagoda compound on the night of the eve of the full moon day. Early morning of the full moon day, the delicious snack is offered to Mahamuni Buddha Image, then to everyone coming to visit the festival.
INDAWGYI SHWEMYITZU PAGODA FESTIVAL, HOPIN, NEAR MYITKINA
22 Feb 2018– 01 March 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon day of Tabaung)
The Indawgyi Festival takes place approximately 100 miles from Myitkyina. This annual festival lasts for 8 days, with the sand banks being washed by the waves prior to the commencement of the ceremony. This is done for people to walk from the banks to the pagoda, as it is believed that one passage is for humans and the other for gods. Both of these sand banks disappear after the festival.
SHWE SARYAN PAGODA FESTIVAL, NEAR MANDALAY
24 Feb 2018 – 01 March 2018 (Full Moon Day to 12th Waning of Tabaung)
This festival features live performances of traditional song and dance, while many locals selling their products. Some of the best selling items in this region are the traditional toys made of dried toddy palm leaves.
PINDAYA CAVE FESTIVAL, PINDAYA
26 Feb – 01 March 2018 (11th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung)
Throughout the festival at the Pindaya Caves, thousands of pilgrims come to worship at the pagoda. Here, practically hundreds of small stalls line the entrance with local foods, handicrafts, Burmese cigars and much more. Shan tribes also parade their immensely colorful costumes.
KAKKU PAGODA FESTIVAL, NEAR TAUNGGYI
27 Feb – 01 March 2018 (12th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tabaung)
The Kakku Pagoda Festival is a showcase of vibrant colors like the many other pagoda festivals around the country. Kakku Pagoda Festival is unique for the unique black outfits of the Pa-O people. The best time to visit is to get there before dawn of the full moon day of Tabaung where the Pa O people in all their finery come with gaily decorated trays bearing morning food offerings.
SHWEDAGON PAGODA FESTIVAL, YANGON
19 Feb 2018 – 01 March 2018 (Full Moon Day of Tabaung)
The Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is mostly celebrated on the full moon day of Tabaung in February and/or March, depending on the Lunar Calendar. This festival is for all citizens from every country, providing water, light and flowers to thecountless displays of Lord Buddha. The day concludes with people praying and worshiping Buddha.
MAUNG DONG NAT FESTIVAL, MONYWA
19 Feb 2018 – 01 March 2018 (5th – 15th Waning Day of Tabaung)
This unique festival is believed to be the most important gathering of witches on earth. Legend has it that Ye Kin Kadaw, Queen of Witches, had extraordinary powers. The King forced her into exile at Maung Dong where she drowned. She is commemorated during the festival by 37 various Nats placed around her shrine, along with offerings of bananas, betel leaves, coconuts and flowers.
SHWEMAWDAW PAGODA FESTIVAL, BAGO
24 March 2018 – 31 March 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tagu)
Featuring the vibrancy and life of most other pagoda festivals, evening entertainment includes Zats, Anyeints, stage shows and temporary shops selling all kinds of goods, including foods and regional snacks.
THINGYAN WATER FESTIVAL, THROUGHOUT MYANMAR
13 April 2018 – 17 April 2018
Similar to Thailand’s Songkran Festival, the Burmese New Year is celebrated in April and everyone has a grand time splashing each other with water. While the young and young at heart head out to douse each other in water, the older take retreat in pagodas and monasteries to perform meritorious deeds. A time of year which is very difficult to stay dry, as everyone throws water at everyone!
POPA CEREMONY, MT. POPA
14 April 2018 (1st Myanmar New Year lasting one week)
This unique festival showcases various Nat dances on Mt Popa. It can become very crowded and accessing the mountain at this time of year can prove to be somewhat difficult. Travelers to this annual event will find a unique cultural experience they will never forget.
SHITTHAUNG PAGODA FESTIVAL, MRAUK OO
28 -29 April 2018 (14th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Kason)
Besides the color and excitement common at all pagoda festivals, activities such as boat races, traditional wrestling are unique features of this festival. Local devotees offer thousand oil lamps and flowers to Buddha at night.
THI-HO-SHIN PAGODA FESTIVAL, PAKOKKU
27 May 2018 – 30 May 2018 (from 8th Waxing Day till Full-moon Day of Nayone)
Lively festival and market taking place around Ho-Shin Pagoda. Entertainment consists of Zats, Anyeints and even movies.
SHWEKYETYET PAGODA FESTIVAL, AMARAPURA, MANDALAY
28 May 2018 – 29 May 2018 (7th to 8th Waning Day of Tawthalin)
This festival is celebrated at Shwekyetyet Pagoda on the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. Like other Myanmar pagoda festivals, shops, food stalls, music and songs are the normal features of this festival. Some years, a rowing boat competition is the unique feature of this festival.
CHIN-LONE FESTIVAL, MAHAMUNI, MANDALAY
13 June 2018 – 28 June 2018 (from 1st Waxing Day of Nayone to 1st Waning Day of Waso)
The distinct character of this fascinating festival is a Chin Lone (cane ball) tournament taking place in Mahamuni Pagoda for more than a month, day and night. Local cane ball players come from all over the country and teams from other countries also take part in this unique competition and display. Visitors can see Chin Lone played a number of ways, either as a team or individually. Local folk music is usually played during the competitions.
SHWE KYUN PIN NAT FESTIVAL, MINGUN NEAR MYATHEINDAN PAGODA
12 – 16 August 2018 (1st to 5th Waxing of Wagaung)
This festival happens in the Burmese month of Wagaung. Like other stories of “Nats – the spiritual beings” linked to powerful Kings and their relatives, the legend behind this festival states that the two sons of the youngest brother of King Mindon were struck by teak trunk in the Ayeyarwaddy River and accidentally killed. Since then, the children were declared to be Nats and named Shwe Kyun Pin (Golden Teak Tree) Nat. They are believed to be the keepers of the Ayeyarwaddy River and this regional Nat festival is a commemorations of the brothers. Farmers with colorful dresses and amazing bullock carts along with traditional performances are a picturesque component of this event. Several kinds of ceramic wares from Sagaing and Kyauk Myaung are on display on the bank of the river for sale during the festival.
TAUNG BYONE NAT FESTIVAL, TAUNG BYONE VILLAGE NEAR MANDALAY
19 August 2018 – 26 August 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Wagaung)
The festival is celebrated in honor of the two powerful spirit brothers of the Bagan Era called Taung Byone Min Nyi Naung. This festival is an important gathering place for mediums to contact spirits. One of the most colorful and important festivals for Nat worshipers in the country, this festival comes complete with dances and traditional performances. Also, in recent years, the festival has become the non-official Gay Pride festival of Myanmar since most celebrations of Nats are conducted by transvestites.
YADANA GU NAT FESTIVAL, AMAPURA, MANDALAY
03 September 2018 – 09 September (8th to 14th Waning Day of Wagaung)
This unique event is famous because of the enjoyable rowing trip to the site. The festival is held in honor of Mewanna, the mother of the Taung Byone Nat brothers, and the Goddess of Popa. Her main shrine is on Popa Crest, near Bagan. She is a powerful spirit and protector of women. Nat worshipers celebrate this festival for the mother who returned from Taung Byone Festival on her way to Mount Popa, while stopping at Yadanagu along the way.
BOE BOE GYI NAT FESTIVAL, TAUNGTHAMAN INN, MANDALAY
27 September 2018 (3rd Waning Day of Tawthalin)
The festival is held to celebrate the high level alchemical Boe Boe Gyi. Pilgrims at the ceremony throw packets of tea leafs at one another. Those who are hit by the packets must visit the following year without fail. The main event of the festival is the procession barge departing from Taungthaman Village to Kun Taung Lake, with many local worshipers following along with small sampan boats. It takes approximately 2 hours from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
PHAUNG DAW OO PAGODA FESTIVAL, INLE LAKE
10 October 2018 – 27 October 2018 (1st Waxing to 3rd Waning Day of Thadingyut)
Visitors to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival can watch the procession of leg-rowed boats, which are ceremoniously tugging four giant statues of Buddha on a barge across the famous Inle Lake. Throughout the event, leg-rowed boats compete on the lake, and hundreds of other vessels add to the festive atmosphere. Thousands come to join in the celebrations from all across Shan state.
INDEIN PAGODA FESTIVAL, INLE LAKE
10 October – 01 November 2018 (7th & 8th Waning Day of Thadingyut)
The Indein Pagoda Festival is a prominent Buddhist ceremony celebrated at the fascinating and unique site of an old shrine complex in Inle Lake.
KYAUKTAWGYI PAGODA FESTIVAL, MANDALAY
17 October 2018 – 24 October 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Thadingyut)
Located at the foot of Mandalay Hill is the Kyauk Daw Gyi Pagoda. A festival is celebrated every year with popular stalls selling a variety of locally produced goods. The color and excitement is quite similar to most other pagoda festivals happening in Myanmar.
ELEPHANT DANCE FESTIVAL, KYAUKSE, MANDALAY
23 October 2018 (14th Waxing Day of Thadingyut)
Situated in a small town not far of Mandalay, an exotic dummy elephant dances at Kyauk Se. A huge but light elephant is made from paper and bamboo, while men take their places inside the beast and dance around the town to the beat of the Dobat and drums. The elephant dancers gather at the foot of the hill to pay tribute to the Shwethalyaung Pagoda.
THADINGYUT (FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS), THROUGHOUT MYANMAR
23 October 2018 – 25 October 2018 (25th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Thadingyut)
To mark the end of the Buddhist Lent, and is also one of the most important festivals of the year. Pagodas, houses, public buildings, parks, and monuments are all illuminated and there are various kinds of activities for everyone to enjoy. Thadingyut is not only joyous but also thanksgiving and paying homage to Buddhist monks, teachers, parents and elders, and asking forgiveness for whatever misdeeds might have been committed.
SHWE KYIN FLOATING LIGHTS FESTIVAL
25 October 2018 (1st Waning Day of Thadingyut in usual – exact date may vary sometimes)
Annually after the full moon day of Thadingyut, this floating light festival is celebrated at a creek, near the small town of Shwe Kyin, near Bago. A less extravagant and more rural version of Loi Krathong in Thailand. The area having been closed for tourism until recently, visitors can now capture a glimpse of authentic local festivities. Rowing races happen during the daytime but the highlight of the festival occurs only after darkness as local folks launch hundreds of lit candles on floating paper boats onto the water.
KAUNG-HMU-DAW PAGODA FESTIVAL, SAGAING
15 November 2018 – 22 November 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone)
This unique festival features a number of bullock carts, carrying products from the surrounding hill tribes to sell their wares. This festival, a real kaleidoscope of colors, features a number of stalls selling hand-woven cotton, clothes and cane mats.
BALLOON FESTIVAL, TAUNGGYI
17 November 2018 – 22 November 2018 (9th Waxing Day to 1st Waning Day of Tazaungmone)
The Balloon Festival in Taunggyi is probably the most famous festival in Myanmar. The festival features fireworks, along with a hot air balloon contests with highly decorated balloons being launched during the day and at night. During the day, balloons are generally represent the shape of Pagodas, while at night they resemble picturesque lanterns that light up the night sky.
SHWEZIGON FESTIVAL, BAGAN
20 November 2018 – 01 December 2018 (10th Waxing to 2nd Waning Day of Tazaungmone)
Like many of the Buddhist pagoda festivals across the country, the Shwezigon Festival features all the color, life and vibrancy that one would come to expect. Zats play a prominent role in the festivities, composed of a number of dances and songs along with plays. Food and other domestic offerings are also available for purchase. On the full moon day, i.e. 3rd November 2017, starting from early morning around 6 a.m., hundreds of monks from villages in the vicinity arrive to receive the offering of filled alms bowls. This activity usually finishes around 9.30 a.m.
TAZAUNGDAING LIGHT FESTIVAL, THROUGHOUT MYANMAR
22 November 2018 (13th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone)
Tazaungdaing Light Festival is held throughout the country before and on the full moon day of the lunar month Tazaungmone. Streets are filled with lights and Buddhists dress in full robes at Ka-htain. On this day, a total of 9999 candles are lit at midnight and mixed salads consisting of Maezali buds are consumed. These salads are believed to possess magical and powerful properties when eaten at this time.
MOENYIN THANBODDHAY PAGODA CEREMONY, MONYWA
22 November 2018 – 23 November 2018 (14th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone)
Another fantastic pagoda festival that is unique to Myanmar. Color and excitement take over and a number of plays, songs and traditional dances are performed. Some of the locally produced items available for purchase include local thanaka, sandalwood and woven textiles.
PHOWINTAUNG PAGODA FESTIVAL
22 Novembar 2018 – 23 November, 2018 (14th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone)
Like other pagoda festivals with the usual entertainment provided. Myanmar thanaka, sandalwood and woven textiles (cotton blankets and longyis mainly) can be bought at the various stalls around the pagoda area.
ROBE WEAVING CONTEST, THROUGHOUT MYANMAR
21 November 2018 – 22 November 2018 (14th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone)
An event celebrated throughout the entire country is the Robe Weaving Contest. This contest takes place prior to the full noon and is a competition to determine the best weaving skills of many teams of women. The robes are called “Ma Tho Thin Gan” and are saffron in color. This traditional celebration is something that has stood the test of time and remains very similar to what it was for hundreds of years. At the end of the ceremony, the winning robes are offered to an image of the Lord Buddha early in the morning of full moon day.
MT. POPA NAT SPIRIT FESTIVAL, MOUNT POPA
03 December 2018 (14th Waxing and Full Moon Day of Nadaw)
Mt. Popa is one of the most sacred religious sites in Myanmar and home to a prominent Nat worship center. In ancient times, many animals were sacrificed, but this changed during the Bagan period. This festival is dedicated to “Minmahargiri Nat – Lord of the Great Mountain” believed to be the protector of households. Therefore, in most Burmese homes, it is customary to see a small shrine covered in red curtain dedicated to this Nat. During this festival, thousands of Burmese flock to the site and create a joyous and light-hearted atmosphere.
SHWE MYAT MHAN PAGODA FESTIVAL, SHWE TAUNG NEAR PYAY
18 December 2018 – 22 December 2018 (8th Waxing to Full Moon Day of Nadaw)
The Shwe Myat Mhan Pagoda Festival features the Nats, songs and dances and stalls similar to other festivals around the country. It is unique as during the British colonial rule, the wife of a local Commissioner was cured from her eye disease after she gave a pair of glasses to a statue of Buddha. Many Burmese travel to this festival and make similar offerings of glasses to Buddha to cure their eye ailments.
NINE THOUSAND LAMPS FESTIVAL AT THE GOLDEN ROCK
31 December 2018
Organized by the Devotees Association of Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock), on the night of 31st December, pilgrims light nine thousands lamps to welcome the New Year and to give thanks to Buddha’s peaceful Doctrine, creating a magical night in this wonderful place.
See our Festivals page here.