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Festival Fever In Asia

Festival Fever In Asia

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Asia is home to some of the strangest and most amazing festivals in the world. Here's just three of the many you can enjoy...


A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the beginning of spring and the arrival of beautiful Sakura – Japanese cherry blossom. It is also a time for eating and drinking, with locals descending on the neighbourhood’s prettiest parks to sit under the candy-coloured trees with a picnic. The blossom can be anything from ice-white and bubble gum pink to a deep magenta or mauve, with the sweet scent always remaining the same; fresh, uplifting and symbolic of spring. Popular festival activities include tea ceremonies and food hampers packed-out with onigiri rice balls, Yakiniku (grilled meats) and steaming miso soup. Or for those really embracing the celebrations, last year McDonalds cooked-up a limited edition ‘Cherry Blossom Burger’, complete with pink buns.


Beware, if you’re a visitor the revellers will target you first! The annual Lathmar Holi is the world-famous Indian colour-throwing festival – and the locals take particular glee in colour-coating the out-of-towners. Predominantly celebrated in the north to commemorate the Hindu festival of Holi, it’s the penultimate celebration of a 16-day event. Merrymakers take to the street and sling-shot an assortment of colourful gulal (powder) at one another, with innocent passers-by targeted whether they’re partaking or not. Launch methods have become quite inventive over the years, anything from buckets and balloons to water shot from syringes and the traditional flour-bomb, anything goes. Not an occasion for your best white attire, it’s riotous, boisterous and the perfect opportunity for dancing, singing and mischief.


If you’re in Thailand and it’s April, your biggest threat – apart from the soaring heat – is a Thai toddler. Especially if they’re in possession of a water gun. April marks the Thai New Year and the Buddhist festival of Songkran; the end of the dry season and the beginning of the annual rains. To wash away sins from the old year, locals take to the street for a colossal water fight. And toddlers, on spotting a non-suspecting tourist, take little mercy. Not so much a water fight, but a full-scale war, the entire city heaves with aqua-fuelled commotion; water erupts from coloured buckets and bazooka-sized water guns; soggy squelches and surprised screams fill the air, and the odd lost jandal floats down the street on its own lone tide.


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