Famed for the scintillating golden towers of the Shwedagon Pagoda and jewellery at the Bogyoke Aung San market, Myanmar’s former capital is also known for unique festivals such as the Full Moon Day of Kason and the Thadingyut Festival of Lights.
Commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and attainment of Nirvana, the Full Moon Day of Kason (Kason Nyaung Ye Thun) usually falls in May. Widely celebrated in Yangon, the festival is known for Maha Bodhi (banyan) tree watering ceremonies that represent the one where Buddha attained enlightenment.
Later in the year, the Thadingyut Festival of Lights in October marks the end of a three-month period during the Myanmar lunar calendar when monks study and meditate, and many Buddhists forgo alcohol, meat, and celebrations. Devotees visit Shwedagon Pagoda and other pagodas in Myanmar during Thadingyut for a lighting festival with 9,000 oil lamps. Young people pay respects and ask for forgiveness from their parents and elders, who bless them with good luck and gift money.
Here are some of the best locations in Yangon to catch the festive fun.
||Bogyoke Aung San Road, Yangon, Myanmar (from Thein Phyu Road to Botataung Pagoda Road)
||4:00pm to 10:30pm
Fans of loud music and barbecue will love the three-day Thadingyut street fair every October. Street food, clothing, carnival games, rides, and street art exhibitions adorn Yangon’s busy thoroughfares.
Opened in 1926, the nearby Bogyoke Aung San Market has been a popular hangout for both Yangon residents and tourists alike. The market was originally named after British Municipal Commissioner Gavin Scott as Scott Market back when Myanmar (then Burma) was a British colony. Now a heritage site, the market has been since renamed after the late Bogyoke (General) Aung San.
The road is closed to vehicles for this annual marketplace festival of street vendors. While you are there, you can savour freshly grilled seafood and traditional sticky rice cooked in bamboo, gawk at the snake charmers, try your luck playing man-powered carnival games, and pick up some traditional Myanmar lanterns and toys for your kids.
Get directions to Bogyoke Aung San Road Street Fair
||Inya Lake, Yangon
On the Full Moon Day of Kason, hot-air balloons, floating lanterns, and fireworks light up the sky, visible from Yangon’s iconic Inya Lake. Located 10 km from downtown Yangon, Inya Lake is a romantic location popular with couples.
Book a scenic evening dinner at a lake restaurant or visit any of the smaller pagodas encircling the water body if you’d like a low-key way of viewing a spectacle of lights, lanterns, and candles. Inya Lake is also Yangon’s largest lake and just north of Shwedagon Pagoda.
Get directions to Inya Lake
||Kandawgyi Lake, Yangon
Home to the floating Karaweik Palace built in 1960, Kandawgyi Lake is another must-visit location during the festivals. Ranked the #1 cultural show location in Yangon on TripAdvisor, Karaweik Palace offers international buffet dinners.
Surprisingly, the lake itself is artificial. It receives its water through pipes from the bigger Inya Lake, and was created to supply Yangon with clean water. Beyond visiting the lake, you can also mingle with local families at the nearby Yangon Zoological Gardens, complete with an aquarium and amusement park.
Get directions to Kandawgyi Lake
Book a half-day tour of Yangon and let a guide tour you through the city on any festival. Many of these tours include circular train trips, vegetable market and food tours, Chinatown and Little India strolls, and pickups from your hotel.
Guests and visitors to the PARKROYAL Yangon can meet our in-house sightseeing tour and activity experts to make arrangements for day trips or tours to Mandalay, Bagan, Taung Gyi, or Inn Lay. See how festivals are celebrated in the quieter parts of Myanmar.