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Asia is not a continent that celebrates carnival festivities. However, some cities have celebrations that are unique and also have particular elements of carnival festivities. These celebrations can range from mystical and religious events to fun and colorful competitions.

We invite you to learn about the 10 Best Carnivals in Asia.

10. Lantern Festival, China

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Although some adjacent countries celebrate this festival, where it is most strongly performed is in China. There are now some historical records that the festivities originated during the Han Dynasty, some 2,000 years ago. However, it did not fully flourish until the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty. Nowadays, the festival is of utmost importance to the entire population, since, during the festivities, daily life stops to celebrate.

The Chinese Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao Festival, is a celebration that promotes reconciliation, peace and forgiveness. It is an event that encourages family ties and friendship. Although it is usually celebrated within the family environment, being a private party, larger cities hold large events where they light lanterns and celebrate with some games.

 

The Lantern Festival in China is a celebration held during the New Year. Millions of people light lanterns to make a wish and let them fly.

The Lantern Festival in China is a celebration held during the New Year. Millions of people light lanterns making a wish and let them fly

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During the celebration, the population is accustomed to perform simple but symbolic activities. One of the favorites is to solve riddles, watch dragon dance and lion dance shows, cultural performances and traditional food. The Yuanxiao or Tangyuan are traditional sweets during the holidays. These consist of small glutinous rice balls filled with fruits or nuts. In addition, they may also be filled with sweet black bean paste.

During the festival, all cities and towns come to a complete halt, even the means of transportation run very rarely. Everyone heads to their hometowns or villages to spend family time, light lanterns and make wishes.

The Chinese Lantern Festival will be held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

 

9. Pawai Paskah Kupang, Indonesia

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The Pawai Paskah is a religious ccelebration held in the capital of Minor Islands Province of the Eastern Sunda, Kupang. The celebration revolves around the veneration of Jesus Christ. Although the Christian or Catholic community represents only 6% of the entire nation, in this area the largest number congregates during the months of March and April. The practice of religion came to this area of Indonesia by the Portuguese colonists. In the 16th century, the Portuguese arrived to strengthen their trade and transmit their beliefs. Thus, the tradition of the Holy Week began to be practiced.

The purpose of thePawai Paskah Parade, or simply Pawai Paskah, is to strengthen the Christian faith, understanding and valuing the life and death of Jesus Christ. In addition, it counts as an instrument of faith renewal for all the young people of the province. The event also aims to strengthen the bonds of the community and integrate the various social, political and interreligious sectors. Other 14 ethnic groups, 83 organizations and religious groups, both Christian and non-Christian, congregate to carry out the procession.

 

Pawai Paskah congregates thousands of people from various sectors of the region to participate in the religious processions

Pawai Paskah congregates thousands of people from various sectors of the region to participate in the religious processions

 

The procession of the Pawai Paskah has the participation of several groups. These groups can parade on foot or in large trucks that occupy musicians or simply preach the word of God. Those who lead the procession are mainly young people from the community who hold various religious images. The image that stands out the most is a large hard cross that needs to be held by several people. This, in addition, has some chains around it.

 

The city of Kupang is trying to position the event as a tourist attraction. In this way, it could gain revenue from the large number of people who come every year to participate in this unique event. The Pawai Paskah Procession is held following the Holy Week calendar, so it takes place between the months of March and April.

 

 

8. Solo Batik Carnival, Indonesia

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The Solo Batik Carnival is an incredible celebration held in the city of Surakarta, located in the Central Java province. The Carnival commemorates and celebrates “Batik”, a wax pattern dyeing technique unique to the locality of Java. This type of cloth patterning has been present in the community since the 6th or 7th century.However, the carnival celebrating this technique did not become present in the city until 2008. Thousands of people flock to the city just to see this incredible spectacle of colors and authentic patterns. Initially, the carnival involved only Indonesian participants, but due to its growing popularity, participants from neighboring countries have been integrated.

Batik is unique to the Java area and although similar patterns can be found in other countries. Due to the cultural importance that Batik occupies, the designs were recognized by Unesco as Immaterial Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

The Solo Batik Carnival is not a carnival per se, as it commemorates this ancestral art. However, due to the extravagance and ostentatiousness of the dresses and costumes presented, it has been considered as such. During the carnival, dozens of people parade incredible costumes with the characteristic designs. They also feature unique accessories that match the whole colorful ensemble.

 

The costumes can be as extravagant or as simple as the designers wish, the only obligation is that it must possess authentic technique and patterns. The people parading the costumes, who are usually the designers themselves, must walk several kilometers to unveil the wonderful pieces. The event also has some musical performances and entertainment, but these do not overshadow these extraordinary costumes.

The Solo Batik Carnivals will be held from approximately July 15-20.

 

 

7. Monihei Mud Carnival, China

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This is possibly one of the most peculiar carnivals around the world. It is held in Cangyuan Va Autonomous County. Those who practice this celebration are mostly the Wa people. These people believe that humans come from caves, so this type of connection with the earth is of utmost importance to them. In addition, the people were also known for raising oxen, an animal they also use to perform various rituals. At first, the mud they used for rituals was made with potash, a red-colored mineral; oxen blood and mud.

 

There is a belief among the Wa people that this type of rituals with mud helps to cleanse the body and soul and drive away evil spirits. In addition, during the holidays, people try to cover other people, especially children and the elderly, as it is believed that the dirtier you are, the more luck, life and prosperity you will have. Nowadays, the mud that is used for rituals is made with a mixture of soil, water, bark and local herbs.

 

Although the main event of the carnivals is this epic mud war, the locals also use to perform some other ceremonies. One of the activities involved in the event is a bullfight, which is not compulsory to attend. At the event you can bet on which bull you think will win. In addition, just before the mud war, cultural performances and dances are held.

The Monihei Mud Carnival is held on two consecutive days. On the first, the bullfighting takes place and the mud is prepared. On the second and last day, the cultural performances and the mud battle take place. This carnival is usually held in early May.

 

 

6. Cochin Carnival, India

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The Cochin Carnival is one of the most unique in Asia among the few carnivals that take place. During the celebration a large effigy is burned that closely resembles Santa Claus. The celebration is held in thecity of Cochin, Kerala state. The first Cochin carnival was celebrated thanks to the initiative of the young people of the city. These young people decided to hold a big party in commemoration of International Youth Day, which was celebrated in 1984 and lasted until 1985. This event featured a large number of games and events.

The Cochin Carnival is a celebration that commemorates the past, present and future. The event takes place at Christmas, right on December 25 and culminates on New Year’s Day. During this date, the whole city is decorated with beautiful Christmas lights, paper and decorated in white. Everyone prepares to receive these dates with great joy, which have been strongly influenced by the Portuguese, Dutch, Punjabi and other cultures.

 

Cochin Carnival is a blend of its own cultures with European cultures

Cochin Carnival is a blend of its own cultures with European cultures

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During the carnivals a large number of events take place, including sports activities, games, food fairs, parades, Christmas fairs and concerts. The main event is the burning of the big statue or Santa Claus doll. The doll is burned between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and takes place after a large mass concert.

The Cochin Carnival is a particular celebration, both in form and substance, as it does not take place in the traditional calendar of carnival festivities. TheCochin Carnival will be held from December 25 to 31 December.

 

 

5. Ati-Atihan Festival, Philippines

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The Ati- Atihan Festival is a religious celebration held in the province of Aklan,Panay Island, Philippines. The origin of this festival is somewhat controversial, as there are some theories explaining where it came from, but these are far from conclusive. In addition, there are doubts about the veracity of such events.

One of the legends about this festival is that it dates back to the 13th century, when a group of chieftains fled Borneo Island. It is believed that these chieftains settled in the Philippines and were accepted by other natives and after a series of barters and favors, the natives celebrated the good gestures of the chieftains, generating the first celebrations of the festival. However, the main figure of the festivals is theChild Jesus, so possibly the festival was the result of the colonization process of the Spaniards.

 

The festival of Ati-Atihan is a colorful celebration that pays homage to the baby Jesus

The festival of Ati-Atihan is a colorful celebration that pays homage to the baby Jesus

 

The main figure of the festivities is theChild Jesus, who is strongly venerated by the various tribes of the locality. The event features a large number of cultural ambanifestations, among these are dances, music, bands, parades and carrozas. In addition, the image of the Infant Jesus is paraded through the streets during the entire ceremony. The participants of the festival wear incredible traditional costumes of bright colors. In addition, they paint their faces black and then make patterns in white. The event is celebrated by both practitioners of the religion and other non-practicing groups.

The celebration is usually held during the month of January. The Ati-Atihan Festival is held from approximately January 10 to 19.

 

 

4. Ha Long Carnival, Vietnam

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The Ha Long Carnival is an incredible scenographic and theatrical spectacle held in Ha Long, in Quang Ninh district. The event is only a few years old, having first emerged just over a decade ago. This carnival was the result of a project that aimed to boost, not only the city, but also the whole ceremony as atop tourist attraction. In addition, it also has the objective of strengthening fraternal ties between the citizens of the country and the brothers of neighboring countries.

 

The Canaval gives all visitors the opportunity to get to know the rich culture that the city has to offer through the various cultural manifestations. It also serves as a cultural exchange between adjacent countries and the region. The event is not only attended by the minorities that make up the country, but also by various artists of regional renown. The content of the presentations may vary, but they generally celebrate the beauty of nature and the human being. In addition, all presentations and shows enjoy incredible staging, visual effects and incredible colors.

 

Ha Long Carnival shows are a work of art to behold

Ha Long Carnival shows are a work of art to behold

 

 

The event includes not only visual shows, but also parades. The parade is held on the main avenue of the city, counting a route of several kilometers. The carrozas and disfraces that make up these parades feature an incredible range of colors and various themes that make the event a complete sensory experience. Music is also one of the elements that complement the performances in a magical and unique way.

The Ha Long Carnival is usually held in late April and early May.

 

 

 

3. Asakusa Samba Carnival, Japan

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The Asakusa Samba Carnival is an extremely particular event due to the distance between the country that hosts the celebration and the country where samba originates: Brazil. The Asakusa Carnival is held in the district of Asakusa, Taito, Tokyo. Although it may seem strange, Brazil and Japan have a close relationship due to the migratory flow between the two countries. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, there was a large influx of Japanese who moved to Brazil to work in the coffee fields. However, in the mid-20th century, many Japanese and their descendants returned to Japan. In this way, a particular cultural exchange was generated, which originated the carnival many years later.

 

Various groups perform in the streets during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

Various groups perform in the streets during the Asakusa Samba Carnival

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The Asakusa Samba Carnival is one of the most popular events in Tokyo, counting at least 500,000 spectators every year. This type of event might seem a bit strange to locals, but it has been well received over the years. The carnival featurestypical elements of Brazilian carnivals, integrating big themed floats, ostentatious costumes, musical ambience and choreographies from another planet.

 

Likewise, the carnival also functions as a vehicle for competitions. Several local schools samba schools compete against each other for the title of winners. The categories are divided between professionals and amateurs. In addition, each of the schools and groups can develop the theme of their choice. While some integrate funny and humorous elements, other groups take it more seriously and create incredible shows traditional to the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro. Generally, the carnival invites the winners of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival to see and be part of the carnival in Tokyo.

EThe Asakusa Samba Carnival will be held on or about September 25.

 

 

2. Kandy Festival Esala Perahera, Sri Lanka

The Kandy Esala Festival is probably the most important religious celebration in the entire country. The event is held in the city of Kandy, in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. The event focuses on one of the most important religious items for Buddhism: The Buddha’s Tooth. It is believed that when Buddha’s body was burned after his death, the only thing left among the ashes was his tooth. This tooth was then given to King Brahmadatte for veneration. In relation to the celebration of the Esala, it is believed that it is a fusion of two Perahera, word to define procession. One of them was performed to ask the gods for the arrival of rains, while the other began to venerate the Buddha’s tooth relic.

 

Kandy Esala Perahera is a most important ceremony of the country

Kandy Esala Perahera is a most important ceremony of the country

 

The carnival has two stages: The Kumbal Perahera and the Randoli Perahera. The first refers to the first 5 nights of celebration, while the second refers to the festivities from the sixth night. Both stages are marked with various elements and as the event comes to an end, the festivities intensify.

 

The parades run through the main temples of the city. In addition, they feature a host of musical shows, fire spitters, elephants and dancers in incredible colorful costumes. The whole celebration is an incredible colorful and magical spectacle. In addition, the celebration also features various commemorative ceremonies to begin and end the festivities.

The Kandy Esala Perahera will be held approximately from mid to late August.

 

 

1. Goa Carnival, India

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The Goa Carnival is one of the most impressive events in all of India and Asia. The celebration is held in various cities in the state of Goa, southwestern India. The carnival traditions were brought by Portuguese colonists during the 16th century. However, the festivities had been censored during the later years of Portuguese settlement. In the year 1965, the carnivals re-emerged due to insistence by various artists.

 

The celebration is a traditional European carnival festival, but incorporates elements characteristic of Hindu culture. The entire celebration is a spectacle of bright colors, religious figures and stunning dances. The parade is neither static nor held in a single town, but smoves across the region and reaches the various cities. The last days of the festival is when the parade intensifies and is even more amazing.

 

Carnival in Goa is a demonstration of Portuguese Catholic traditions mixed with Hindu culture

King Momo leads the Carnival parades in Goa

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The parades feature big colorful floats, dancers, contortionists and various troupes that make the Carnival nights the most magical of the whole year. In addition, throughout the week, the food stands multiply, allowing each of the national and international tourists to taste the delicious food of the region.

The Goa Carnival will be held from approximately February 13 to 16.

 

 

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