From China's Dragon Boat Festival to Thailand’s famous water festival Songkran to India’s explosively colorful Holi, Asia is home to numerous incredible festivals that provide visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the country’s culture and experience it like a native. Check out our top seven festivals below that are absolutely worth the trip and learn a little bit about Asia's captivating culture and history along the way.
Stretching across five-days this end-October, Diwali is celebrated with great grandeur and color. Also termed “Festival of Lights”, hundreds of small oil lamps are lighted in homes for its symbolism of vivacity and integrity in Hindu mythology. Join in the festivities at Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Alibaug and enjoy a buffet dinner at Mango Deck offering al fresco dining and a live band.
At the lobby of Radisson Blu Pune Hinjawadi, immerse yourself in Indian culture by trying out the Indian sweets available for purchase, experience live sessions of the teaching the art of Rangoli drawing or the making of Indian sweets. Or, support the works of children with special needs by buying hand-crafted oil lamps. All these activities are happening till 29 October.
Learn more about Diwali and all of India's most colorful festivals!
Chinese New Year
Falling in January next year, The Spring Festival also known as Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for the global Chinese community. Wear red as it is an auspicious color during the festival and head to the Yuyuan Lantern Festival to witness hundreds of intricately designed lanterns - an iconic piece of Shanghai’s rich history and culture.
Stay at the Radisson Blu Shanghai New World for easy access to the festivities or avoid the city crowds and book with Radisson Blu Forest Manor Shanghai to swim under the stars in their starry indoor pool.
Radisson Blu Plaza Chongqing is another ideal hotel nestled by Nan Bin Road. Discover the exciting celebratory nightlife beyond the hotel doors, unwind at the hotel’s indoor swimming pool and spa room or enjoy panoramic views while dining at their various restaurants.
Psst! Did you know that Chinese New Year is a big celebration in Manchester?
The Mid-Autumn festival is the second most important festival after the Spring Festival to be celebrated by people of Chinese descent in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore. Often described as the Chinese version of “Thanksgiving”, Chinese people reunite with their family members to celebrate harmony and family unity. The festival, which is said to date back over 3,000 years, also celebrates Chang’e, just one of many legends related to this festival. Today the festival is celebrated by the gifting and eating of mooncakes, a pastry filled with lotus paste and sometimes a salted egg yolk or more. Children also go on walks with colorful lanterns, either made from paper or battery-powered ones. Some cities hold big lantern parades and exhibitions. Discover the celebration around the country at one or many Radisson Blu hotels in China next September.
Dragon Boat Festival
Do you know the origin of the Dragon Boat festivals? Dating back over 2000 years to the Warring States Period (B.C. E. 403 — B.C. E. 221), the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is one of the three most important lunar festivals – along with Spring Festival and Mid-autumn Festival – celebrated by Chinese communities worldwide.
The most popular legend involves Qu Yuan, a notable state official and poet who drowned himself in a river to protest against the political corruption of the day. Many fishermen rode their boats on the river to find his body while other threw rice rolls, eggs and meat into the river hoping that the body of Qu Yuan wouldn’t be eaten by creatures in the river. Today, dragon boat racing and rice dumplings (zongzi) have become part of the celebration.
To commemorate his sacrifice, people began to organize Dragon Boat Races. The first International Dragon Boat Festival race was staged in the 1970s by the Hong Kong Tourist Association (now Tourist Board) and is today one of the largest races of its kind with hundreds of thousands of revelers and spectators who converge at Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Dragon Boat races also happen in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia as well as in Europe and North America. The festival falls in June next year.
Experience the festival on many of the waterways in China during this period with Radisson Blu. In Chongqing for example, the festival is celebrated through 228 carnivals over a 3-day drama festival including various cultural performances (music, drama, acrobatics, art). The best part? Most performances are free. Make your base the Radisson Blu Hotel, Chongqing to get the best of this key annual festival in China.
Officially known as Songkran, this Buddhist festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year and celebrates purification and new beginnings. It is also arguably the largest water fight in the world. Songkran promises locals and tourists alike a day or two of wet, rowdy fun as friends and complete strangers splash each other with water.
If you’re in Thailand during the festival, be prepared for crowds of people roaming around throwing buckets of water, using water pistols, and even dousing people from moving vehicles. White talc is also thrown in copious amounts so be sure to dress appropriately. We also highly recommend waterproof bags for your electronics if you’re going to be walking the streets. The festival runs for three days in April. Book your stay in Bangkok to live the festival like a local!
Easter (The Philippines)
While Easter Sunday is celebrated by Christians worldwide to commemorate the rebirth of Christ, the predominantly Roman Catholic country of the Philippines does it a bit differently. Some of the rituals are Spanish-influenced Catholic ceremonies which have been combined with pre-Hispanic beliefs.
One of the most unusual traditions is the use of penitents. The most elaborate celebrations take place in San Fernando, located about 50 miles (80 km) north of Manila. In Cebu city, you can see the Buhing Kalbaryo (Live Calvary). The Buhing Kalbaryo is a play featuring a cast of over 100 people depicting the final hours in the life of Jesus in an elaborate street drama. At a certain point in the performance, the audience on the street joins the cast and walks several miles towards the site of the play's finale. While in Bantayan Cebu, the Holy Week Processions feature a parade of life-sized antique statues – crafted by Spanish artisans in the 1800s – mounted on huge, richly decorated chariots to depict the passion of Christ.
Make the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cebu your base for experiencing these unique traditions first hand.
Holi celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring...with lots of color! These days, this ancient Hindu religious festival is more a time for fun than religious observance. People of all ages go into the streets and play with colored powder and water. Anyone and everyone is fair game – in the spirit of celebration. Indoors, only dry powder is used to smear each other's faces. Primarily observed in northern India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of Hindus or people of Indian origin, this festival is sure to enchant and delight even the most sullen of people. The great Indian festival lasts for a day and a night, starting in the evening of the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun. It is celebrated with the name Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on first evening of the festival and the following day is called Holi. Next year, the festival falls in March. In Pune, India, special Holi parties will be held around the city, so make sure to plan where you'll be celebrating as any event is sure to be jam-packed (but that's the fun of it!).
Make the Radisson Blu Pune Hinjawadi your base for experiencing this colorful event!