August 2020

Traditional Celebrations

The Baliem Valley Festival (7 – 10 August) in Indonesia sees the Dani, Yali and Lani tribes gather at this annual festival, dressed in their traditional attire to stage mock battles, perform traditional music and dance. This festival is the oldest festival in Papua, where hundreds of tribes spread across the island will showcase their culture.

Yamaga Lantern Festival (13 – 14 August) is held annually in Kumamoto, Japan, and sees the city of Yamaga lit up with thousands of lanterns. Visitors can watch performers pass by in traditional 'yukata' as they dance gracefully to 'yoheho' music.

O-bon, or the 'Festival of Souls' (13 – 15 August) in Japan is a traditional festival when lanterns are hung out the front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits. O-bon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at house altars and temples. Tokushima Awa Odori (12 – 15 August) is held as part of the area's O-bon festival. In Tokushima City, 990 different community dance groups known as 'ren' put on displays.

The Hungry Ghost Festival (15 August) is one of several traditional festivals held amongst Chinese communities (especially in Hong Kong and Singapore) to worship ancestors. Special ceremonies are performed to avoid the wrath of the ghosts such as putting the family’s ancestral tablets on a table, burning incense and preparing food three times on the day to feed the hungry ghosts. The festival is known as Wandering Soul Day in Vietnam and is the second most important festival in the country after Tet. The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated in Malaysia with staged opera performances and puppet shows at roadsides.

Indonesia’s Independence Day (17 August) is a nationwide celebration of independence and national holiday featuring processions, traditional music, and dancing.

Haw Khao Padap Din, or 'Day of the Dead', (18 August) is celebrated on the 15th day of the waning moon in August each year in Laos. This festival is devoted to remembering and paying respect to the dead. Many cremations take place during this time, and gifts are presented to the 'Sangha' so that monks will chant on behalf of the deceased. The day is also marked by boat races on the Nam Khan River, as well as a trade fair in Luang Prabang.

Shoton, also known as the 'Tibetan Yogurt Festival' (19 August), is one of the most popular Tibetan festivals and celebrates the eating of yogurt. During the festival there are celebrations taking place in the streets, squares and monasteries in Lhasa. The residents of Lhasa will gather in the park and celebrate by eating yoghurt and watching operas. Or visit Ziyuan Water Lantern and Song Festival (31 August – 1 September) while in Guilin. Held in Ziyuan County, it is one of the most popular festivals for a local day tour.

Shwe Kyun Pin Festival (19 – 23 August) is held annually in Myanmar. After the harvest, hundreds of farmers wearing colourful dresses travel with beautifully decorated bullock carts to the Myatheindan Pagoda. During the festival, mediums perform Nat Dances to bring a good harvest for next year.

The Tabot Festival (20 August) is a recreation of the tragic events that befell Hasan Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and is held in his remembrance and honour. Aside from being a religious ritual, the festival is also alive with performing arts, local markets, traditional handicraft, and sport.

Double Seventh Festival (25 August) in China and Hong Kong is almost equivalent to Valentine’s Day in Western countries. As it’s a day of great importance to girls, the event is also called Young Girls’ Festival.

The Taung Pyone Festival (28 August – 2 September) is an impressive Nat festival held annually in Myanmar. Offerings and dances accompany the inflow of merchants and constant arrival of pilgrims while the intensive use of loudspeakers continues day and night.

The Bali Kite Festival in Sanur, Indonesia, is an annual international kite festival held in the Padang Galak area of Sanur Beach, Bali. Traditionally, giant kites 4 metres in width and almost 10 metres in length are made and flown competitively by teams from the villages of Denpasar. The event is a seasonal religious festival intended to send a message to the Hindu Gods to create abundant crops and harvests.

International Events

During the week-long Singapore River Festival, the three Quays (Clarke, Boat and Robertson) transform into a hotbed of art installations, theatrical performances, flea markets, food stalls and music. The event is held annually in August.

Qingdao, home to the eponymous Tsingtao beer and the largest beer production base in China, hosts the annual month-long Qingdao International Beer festival – Asia's very own Octoberfest.

The Phuket Lobster Festival is held throughout the month of August to promote Phuket lobster, which is claimed to be of the highest quality and most favourite seafood of all time. Phuket was selected by UNESCO as one of the 18 Cities of Gastronomy in the world and is the first city of Thailand and ASEAN to have received this recognition.

The Khmer Empire Marathon (2 August) navigates the UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat temple complex – the largest religious monument in the world. During the race, runners will pass by innumerable historical monuments.

Siem Reap’s annual Cycling for Cambodia (9 August) event combines cycling and teambuilding to raise funds for the Angkor Hospital for Children.

Singapore Night Festival provides heaps to see and do, including musical performances, improvisational theatre, film screenings, roving street performers, colourful building-sized light installations and cultural exhibitions. The festival is held annually over two weekends in August.