Once you have arrived there will be plenty to keep you busy, but depending on the time of year, here are a few events taking place…
Hot Season (March – April)
Thingyan Water Festival
Celebrating the Myanmar New Year, this festival lasts for several days and is marked by major, good-natured water throwing. It is also a time of merit making, and older people go to temples for prayer and alms giving.
Raining Season (May – October)
The Waso Festival
Commemorating the Buddha’s first sermon, this festival also marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Monks are given new robes and other requirements to tide them through the months ahead
Thadingyut Festival (Festival of Lights)
Marking the end of Buddhist Lent, this festival, held on the full moon day of Thadingyut, lasts for three days during which houses and streets are festively decorated and illuminated. People crowd into their local pagodas to offer alms and make merit. Younger people also pay homage to their parents, elders and teachers.
Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda Festival, Inle Lake
Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda’s Buddha images are ferried from village to villages for people to pay homage. Fairs, dances, the leg rowers’ boat races and general festivities counterbalance the more austere ceremonial aspect. This is the biggest celebration in the Shan state.
Elephant Dance Festival
Though enacted in several towns and villages, the town with the best festival is Kyauk-se, 40km south of Mandalay. Two full size paper elephants, one black, one white, each with two men inside, dance through the town with much pageantry and ceremony.
Dry Season (November – February)
Held on the full moon day of Tazaungmon according to the Myanmar Calendar, this festival finds houses and public buildings decorated and brightly lit. Robes and other requisites are offered to monks with the special offering of Mathothigan – a robe that is woven in one single day – held on the eve of the full moon. Dedicated teams of weavers compete with one another to complete the robes, which are then reverently offered to images of Buddha.