Fall Festivals in Asia

  • 01 of 09

    Asian Events in September, October, and November

    candles being lit for Diwali, the Festival of Lights
    ••• Diwali, the Festival of Lights, celebrated in Bagan, Myanmar. Christian Kober / Getty Images

    These fall festivals in Asia are exciting and widely celebrated — yet another list of good reasons that fall is a great time to travel in Asia.

    Expect some big crowds and interesting spectacles at these major events held in September, October, and November. Like other big holidays in Asia, pretty well all of these fall festivals attract a crowd — locals and tourists — who begin competing for transportation and accommodation.

    Arrive a few days early to these celebrations for a great travel memory, otherwise steer clear completely until things calm down and get back to "normal."

    Check your dates! Many of these fall festivals are based on lunisolar calendars, so dates change annually.

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  • 02 of 09

    The Mid-Autumn Festival

    Mooncakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival in September.
    ••• Mooncakes, part of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Addy Ho / EyeEm / Getty Images

    Also known as the Chinese Moon Festival, or colloquially as just the "Mooncake Festival," the Mid-Autumn Festival is a celebration of the harvest. The day is observed throughout Asia and is a public holiday in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    The Mid-Autumn Festival is about enjoying a brief respite from work to have reunions with family, friends, and lovers. Mooncakes are exchanged beneath the full moon with someone special. It's a time to form romances.

    Commercialization hit this fall festival hard: some of the mooncakes for sale are made from exotic ingredients (gold leaf, anyone?) and cost hundreds of dollars!

    • Where: Throughout Asia, especially places with large ethnic Chinese populations
    • When: Dates change; usually in September
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  • 03 of 09

    Malaysia Day

    Kuala Lumpur Malaysia cityscape
    ••• Fakrul Jamil Photography / Getty Images

    Not to be confused with Hari Merdeka, Malaysia's celebration of gaining independence from the British Empire, Malaysia Day is a patriotic celebration to commemorate the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

    The day is celebrated with patriotic festivities along with a parade and speeches. Malaysia Day is an exciting time to travel in Malaysia.

    • Where: Throughout Malaysia and Borneo, with the epicenter in Kuala Lumpur
    • When: Annually on September 16

     

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  • 04 of 09

    Phuket Vegetarian Festival

    A devotee pierces his face during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival
    ••• A devotee pierces his face during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. Natthawat / Getty Images

    This festival isn’t just about diet choices — some devotees pierce their faces with swords and skewers!

    The Phuket Vegetarian Festival (officially the Nine Emperor Gods Festival) is a nine-day Taoist celebration that is vividly observed on the island of Phuket, Thailand. The scene is absolute chaos. Firecrackers are thrown, many at head level, during processions that carry shrines and images of gods. Devotees in varying states of trance pierce their bodies, most often the face, with sharp objects.

    The Nine Emperor Gods Festival is also observed by Chinese communities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

    • Where: Phuket, Thailand
    • When: Dates change; usually the end of September or beginning of October
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  • 05 of 09

    National Day in China

    Crowd in Beijing for National Day Holiday
    ••• National Day draws a large crowd to Beijing. VCG / Stringer / Getty Images

    China’s most patriotic holiday is National Day on October 1. Concerts, pro-government gatherings, and fireworks mark the occasion.

    The day also kicks off one of China’s Golden Week holiday periods, meaning that things get even busier — way busier — in Beijing! Hundreds of thousands of people living in the countryside head into the capital for a rare glimpse of Tienanmen Square.

    Attractions such as the Great Wall and the terracotta soldiers in Xi'an become inundated with traveling locals. Hotels and public transportation fill up. The first week of October is the busiest time to visit China.

    • Where: In big cities throughout China, with the epicenter in Beijing
    • When: Annually on October 1; lasts approximately one week
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  • 06 of 09

    Gandhi’s Birthday

    A statue of Gandhi in Port Blair
    ••• Darren Robb / Getty Images

    The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi is celebrated worldwide on October 2. The Gandhi Jayanti celebration, as it is called in India, is particularly special. The day is one of only four national holidays on the subcontinent. Mahatma Gandhi is known as the "Father of the Nation" in India

    An International Day of Peace was already observed on September 21, so in 2007 the United Nations declared Gandhi's Birthday as International Day of Non-Violence.

    • Where: Throughout India, with the epicenter in New Delhi
    • When: Annually on October 2
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  • 07 of 09

    Pushkar Camel Fair

    Camels race during the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan
    ••• Camels race during the Pushkar Camel Fair. Robert Holmes / Contributor / Getty Images

    Arguably Rajasthan’s biggest festival, the Pushkar Camel Fair (or simply just the "Pushkar Fair") attracts well over 100,000 locals and tourists who come to see, sell, or race over 50,000 camels! Needless to say, the small town of Pushkar gets pushed to its limits; attendees set up camps in the desert.

    Games, sales, competitions, and spectacles fill the days. After the festival, continue on to Jaisalmer to try riding a camel across the desert!

    • Where: Pushkar in Rajasthan, India
    • When: Dates change; usually in late fall
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  • 08 of 09

    Diwali (Deepavali)

    Diwali Festival lantern in India
    ••• Lighting lanterns is a way to celebrate the Diwali Festival. Subir Basak / Getty Images

    India's Festival of Lights is an important Hindu holiday celebrated with plenty of colorful lights and noisy fireworks used to frighten away evil spirits. Homes are decorated with lights, and ghee lanterns are burned. Fairs and gatherings are scattered throughout.

    Diwali is a beautiful spectacle in some places, while you may not even know it's going on in others. The holiday is about peace, reunions, religious rites, and special meals with family.

    Each year during Diwali, Indian and Pakistani soldiers meet at the border to exchange sweets in a rare gesture of goodwill.

    • Where: India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, and other places with large Hindu populations
    • When: Dates change; usually end of October or early November
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  • 09 of 09

    Loi Krathong / Yi Peng in Thailand

    Loi Krathong During Fall in Thailand
    ••• Loi Krathong is one of the most spectacular festivals during fall in Thailand. Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Getty Images

    Loi Krathong, along with Yi Peng, are quite possible the most visually stunning festivals in all of Asia. Thousands of candle-fired lanterns fill the sky while candlelit boats float on the river beneath.

    Although the festival is often collectively referred to as "Loi Krathong," krathongs are the little boats that are floated on water. The lantern celebration that mesmerizes tourists is Yi Peng.

    • Where: Throughout Thailand, with Chiang Mai as the epicenter. Smaller celebrations are seen in Laos and Burma/Myanmar.
    • When: Dates change; usually in November