10 Spectacular winter festivals in Asia
Winter festivals in Asia, the largest continent of the world, are distinct and vibrant. Traveling in Asia during the frigid winter months gives you amazing and indelible experiences that will make you come back every winter to this beautiful and ravishing wonderland, Asia.
Culturally diverse, the continent celebrates many unique and amusing winter fetes that’ll prompt you to pack your bags and travel over the Asian lands.
Winter festivals in Asia are just awesome!
Here’s a list of 10 spectacular winter festivals in Asia
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China
Every winter Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang (China’s most Northeastern province bordering Siberian Russia) organizes the world’s biggest ice and snow sculpture festival.
The city lights up the long bitterly cold winter months by carving huge snow sculptures (like human face or animal figures), splendid ice palaces and castles towering over the crowd, and life-sized images of world’s wonders such as the Egyptian Pyramids or the great wall, and the noted landmarks like the Acropolis of Athens or European Cathedral.
Once a local event, today, is a major international festival.
Millions of tourists visit this icy-snowy festival to see how beautifully soft winter sunshine glistens on cosmic carvings and as the sun sets and darkness falls, Harbin transforms into a neon fantasyland. The shades of sapphire, crimson, and lime green sparkle from the translucent ice blocks.
These gigantic structures are constructed from some 260000 cubic yards of ice blocks harvested from the river Songhua which flows through the city of Harbin and freezes in winter.
The activities that you can enjoy: joining local fairs, visiting exhibitions, alpine skiing, or winter swimming, or take an exhilarating ride through a giant ice slide that takes you down to the frozen Songhua.
This year, it’s the 36th celebration starting from Jan 5, 2020.
So bundle up to enjoy the biggest winter party this season that’s taking place in Harbin, China.
Lighting Festival at the Garden of Morning Calm, South Korea
This winter season, visit the biggest lighting festival in the Garden of Morning Calm. Located in Gapyeong district of South Korea, it is only 2 hours drive from Seoul, the capital city.
In winter, the garden glows in bright colorful illumination under the night sky. The illumination spans some 330000 square meters, putting 30000 colorful LED lights hanging from tall trees and spreading all over plants and bushes. It’s a fancy wonderland that will warm your heart up in freezing cold winter.
The festival takes place from winter to early spring.
Plenty of snowfall in the area creates a thick snow blanket and enfolds the garden. Surrounded by snow-shield mountains and valleys, the place is a perfect piece of fairyland.
As the daylight fades, the decorated illuminations begin to shimmer and the dusty-snowy garden turns into a completely different world. In every step forward, you’ll find multi-colored trees and plants captivating your eyes.
There are also illuminated arch tunnels and other artworks like horse and carriage that are specially decorated for the festival.
Inside, the Bonsai garden, Moonlight garden, and the Garden of Eden are popular ones.
Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
A yearly winter event takes place at Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (the Northernmost of Japan’s main islands). The Sapporo snow festival is Japan’s wintertime extravaganza that draws millions of visitors every year. It starts in early February and runs for a week.
The festival unveils heavenly snow and ice sculptures. These may be world-famous towers, an image of a celebrity, or any anime-based creatures like Pokemon. These are mighty and alluring!
Three prime sites for the festival: Odori Park, Susukino, and Tsudome.
The centerpiece Odori Park features innumerable ice sculptures of all sizes. When the sun goes down, these translucent structures dazzlingly lit up in a captivating array of colors. This is awe-inspiring!
Meanwhile, roam inside snow mazes, try skating on the ice ring near Odori Park, or ride a snow raft or play a snowball fight at Tsudome. Enjoy scrummy street foods or take a ride on snow slides,
If you’re a music lover! Stages are built with snow where Musical shows are conducted.
Jaisalmer Winter Desert festival, India
Untie your winter wools to celebrate this great desert festival happens every winter in the Desert city of India, Jaisalmer.
This part of Asia isn’t so snowy, and so allow you to unwrap your warmers and indulge in a great festive mood.
During the fest, the desert comes alive and is filled with happiness and enthusiasm. It’s a three days extravaganza cherished amidst the old classic forts, royal palaces, and native culture of the state.
Blended in folk fusion, regional foods, art and crafts, local elements and heritage; the festival grasp attention from travelers worldwide.
Locals dressed in traditional attire sing and dance portraying injuries and triumphs of the historic forts.
Different fun-filled activities including Camel Race, Camel Polo, longest Mustache competition, turban tying (a very local form of attire), and Mr. Desert Competition are hosted. Besides, a desert safari to the golden dunes will make you thrilled.
Watching fire dance is popular among visitors.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Taiwan
Make a trip to Taiwan this winter! Visit Sky Lantern festival in a small hillside village of Shiefen in the Pingxi district of northern Taiwan.
Relish a magical winter evening watching thousands of glowing lanterns floating up into the night sky. Such an ethereal view will enliven in your heart forever!
This beautiful festival is celebrated on the first full moon night of the Chinese New year. Thousands of travelers and locals join to release an estimated 100000 to 200000 floating lanterns on this evening to welcome the coming year with peace, affluence, and joy.
People write their prayers and wishes on lanterns as they believe the lanterns flying high in the sky will pass their messages to god in heaven.
The tradition has made Pingxi a hugely popular tourist destination.
So this season land for this wish come true festival in Taiwan.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice festival in Hwacheon County, South Korea
A unique winter event you can join in Gangwon-do (a beautiful mountainous and forested province in South Korea).
The river Hwa Cheon Cheon located in Gangwon-do freezes in winter creating a thick layer of ice on it.
Thousands of tourists and locals reach the frozen stream. They dig a hole in the icy-stream and start fishing Sancheoneo (fish of Salmon family lives in high-quality freshwater).
Some also choose to jump into an icy water pool built beside the stream to enjoy bare-handed fishing. People are just so excited when trouts are caught in their hands.
You can take away the fish you caught to a nearby food center. For a fee, they’ll make it fried or in raw slices of your choice.
After spending hours in freezing water, you can dip your feet for a warm bath.
There are many more fun-activities like thrilling sled ride down the hill and winter sports such as ice soccer, curling, hockey, and others. Paper lanterns with beautiful luminaries and large-scale ice sculptures are also showed at the venue.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year is a greatly joyful occasion that will make your winter holidays bright and beautiful.
Not only in China, but many Asian countries celebrate this occasion with much preparation and excitement. The festival falls between Jan 21 to Feb 20 and lasts for 15 days.
Every street and corner is beautifully decorated. Red is the prime color for the festival. People believe it’s auspicious and will bring good luck to them. Hence, red is abundantly used in decorating roads, buildings, local houses; red-colored couplets are pasted on doors, and red lanterns are hanged from trees.
You can enjoy watching traditional dances like dragon and lion dance performed on streets by locals. A variety of Chinese products and foods are on offer.
Millions of firecrackers are set off in fire. When it’s midnight, firecrackers going up in China’s night sky create a spectacular view!
International Kite festival in Gujarat, India
In the middle of January, one of the most bright and colorful festivals takes place at the bank of river Sabarmati in Gujrat, India.
People from more than 45 countries across the world come with much enthusiasm to participate in this unique festival of flying and competing with kites. The mega event is part of celebrating Makar Sankranti in India (celebrating wealth and happiness).
Once a royal practice, today, is a much-awaited and most loved festival by locals in India and people joining from neighboring countries.
During the festival, local markets are flooded with unique and colorful kites of different sizes. People buy and sell kites in a great measure. Kite flying starts early at 5 am and goes until midnight where approx. 8 to 10 million people participate in the fest. At night, illuminated kites filled with lights and candles flying high in the skies create a heavenly view. Besides, cultural performances and regional foods draw people’s attention.
So join this exceptionally striking festival of Gujarat this winter!
Nabana no Sato, Winter Illumination Festival, Japan
Although Nabana no Sato flower park, near the city of Nagoya, is a loving destination for rovers in all four seasons, winter is particularly the most loved when illuminations in this lovely flower garden offer angelic sights to this alluring dreamland.
Starting from mid-October till early May, the place draws a massive crowd. Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Plum Blossoms, Roses, Azaleas, and many more fragrant flowers and a cozy cafe inside: a perfect place to ease your stress and revive mind.
This is the largest illumination site in Japan.
Over 8 million LED lights are installed in the span of 210000 square meter area of Nabana no Sato. Lighting tunnels, Japanese and Chinese foods, shops, souvenirs, bakery, and flower markets; and if you feel tired of walking around the park, there’s a hot spring inside Nabana na Sato where you can re-energize.
Christmas is just awesome in Asian countries. Irrespective of religion, people indulge wholeheartedly to celebrate Christmas every winter. From East Asia to the gorgeous Goa beaches (of India), the color of Christmas is overloaded.
Eye-catching decorations pop-up weeks before Christmas. Shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, and other public places are beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, lights, candies; people wearing red Santa hats and you can even spot a Santa Claus there.
The time for private parties, Christmas cakes, carols, and carnivals full of fun-activities. People exchange gifts with their loved ones and wish ‘Merry Christmas!’.
Enjoy the grand celebrations of Christmas in Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong or in the East Asian cities of Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei. Christmas, here, is overjoyed.