The summer festivals in Asia are exciting; some will blow your mind! Lots of patriotic independence days hit in the summer, along with one of Southeast Asia's biggest music festivals.
Enjoying the Big Festivals
These holidays and festivals really draw in the crowds, both tourists and locals. Plan ahead to avoid transportation delays and to better enjoy big national holidays.
The worst scenario is to arrive just a day or two after a big festival. Not only will you miss the fun, you'll still have to deal with traffic, delays, and inflated hotel prices!
- Summer festivals with fixed dates
- Summer festivals with dates that change
Summer Festivals in Asia With Fixed Dates
These summer festivals in Asia begin on the same day each year.
Celebrated in Malaysian Borneo’s state of Sarawak, Gawai Dayak is a two-day festival celebrating the culture and knowledge of more than 200 indigenous tribes.
- Where: Throughout Sarawak with Kuching as the epicenter
- When: The evening of May 31
Dalai Lama’s Birthday
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was born on July 6, 1935, and is the longest-serving Dalai Lama in history.
Singapore’s patriotic holiday commemorates the separation from Malaysia on August 9, 1965. Fireworks and a parade are part of the fun.
- Where: Singapore
- When: August 9
Queen of Thailand’s Birthday
The Queen of Thailand, Sirikit Kitiyakara, is dearly loved by the Thais; her birthday is considered as Mother’s Day throughout Thailand. The Queen of Thailand is the longest-serving consort to a monarch in the world.
- Where: Throughout Thailand, with big celebrations in Bangkok and Chiang Mai
- When: August 12
India Independence Day
India’s Independence Day is one of only three set national holidays and commemorates independence from British rule in 1947.
- Where: Throughout India
- When: August 15
Indonesia’s Independence Day is known as ‘Hari Merdeka’ in the local language and celebrates their declaration of independence from Dutch rule in 1945. Prizes await atop greased poles for whoever can reach them in a game known as panjat pinang. Some prizes in televised games include keys to new cars!
- Where: Throughout Indonesia
- When: August 17
Malaysians celebrate gaining their independence from Britain in 1957 with parades, fireworks -- both legal, sanctioned displays and otherwise -- along with plenty of good fun.
- Where: Throughout Malaysia but especially in Kuala Lumpur
- When: August 31
Summer Festivals in Asia With Dates That Change
These summer festivals are based on the lunisolar calendar and have dates that change each year. Choose a festival to see dates for the current year.
Held annually in Sarawak, Borneo, the Rainforest World Music Festival is one of Asia’s most exciting music festivals. Cultural workshops fill afternoons until the lineup of international bands take to the stages at night.
- Where: The Sarawak Cultural Village outside of Kuching in Sarawak, Borneo
- When: Dates change; always in the summer months
Georgetown Heritage Day
The Georgetown World Heritage Festival is held every summer to celebrate the art, history, and UNESCO World Heritage status of Georgetown, Penang, in Malaysia. Although Georgetown is most famous for its colonial past, an abundance of thriving galleries, museums, and cafes are part of the present culture.
- Where: Georgetown, on the island of Penang in Malaysia
- When: Dates change; usually in July
Naadam in Mongolia
Mongolia’s biggest national holiday is known as Naadam; thousands come from all over the vast country to compete in sporting events and for the festivities. Naadam is the busiest but most exciting time to visit Mongolia for a dose of local culture.
- Where: Throughout Mongolia with the epicenter in Ulaanbaatar.
- When: Usually in July
In this Buddhist and Taoist festival, people offer meals and burn pictures of earthly items such as cars, electronics, and money to make offerings for their deceased ancestors. The belief is that the gates to the underworld are opened, allowing ghosts to walk the earth. Big events and decisions are usually postponed until the ghosts return back to the underworld where they can’t cause problems.
- Where: Anywhere with large Chinese communities, especially in Malaysia and Singapore
- When: Dates change; usually in July or August