The Torch Festival (2 August) is celebrated annually by the Yi people of southwest China. During the festival, a torch is erected in front of each house and the Yi people can be seen singing and dancing in their colourful traditional clothing. When night falls and gongs and horns are sounded, people of all ages come forward to ignite fires in the town square. Cheerful flames leap up to the sky while shouts of joy together with the boom of gongs and drums create a beautiful musical sea of rejoicing.
Double Seventh Festival (4 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 (4 – 11 August) sees offerings and dances accompany the inflow of merchants and constant arrival of pilgrims to Mandalay, while the intensive use of loudspeakers continues day and night. The Shwe Kyun Pin Festival is also held annually in August Mandalay, 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 Baliem Valley Festival (8 – 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.
The Hungry Ghost Festival (12 August) is one of several traditional festivals held amongst Chinese communities across Asia 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, while in Malaysia it is celebrated with staged opera performances and roadside puppet shows.
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 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 Bali Kite Festival (17 August) is an annual international kite festival held in the Padang Galak area of Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia. 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.
Haw Khao Padap Din, or 'Day of the Dead', 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', 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 the Ziyuan Water Lantern and Song Festival while in Guilin. Held in Ziyuan County, it is one of the most popular festivals for a local day tour.
Indonesia’s Independence Day (17 August) is a nationwide celebration of independence and national holiday featuring processions, traditional music, and dancing. Though it is usually celebrated in accordance with Independence Day, Bidar Boat Race still deserves a special mention as one of the most anticipated festivals in Indonesia that takes place in the Palembang region in south Sumatra. It’s a delight to watch large boats made out of hardwood trees and adorned in bright paints and patterns race over the water on this special day.
Several annual events are held throughout August in Singapore. 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 month-long Singapore Food Festival, organised annually by the Singapore Tourism Board, celebrates local foods that portrays Singapore as a country rich with food diversity. And the 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 over two weekends 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.