A new year starts with many fantastic festivals from rich-culture countries. If you choose Asia to travel to in January, here are some celebrations that might make your trip more festive!
January & February: The 38th Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China
If you love traveling to admire the majestic beauty of winter, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in the most northerly province of China (Harbin) should be on your list!
This is the largest snow and ice festival in the world, with astonishing ice palaces and sculptures that make your childhood dream of becoming a snow king and queen come true. Organized annually, Harbin draws people from all over the world with more than 400 activities to be held in the city to celebrate the festival.
Temperature: Located at the same latitude as Montreal, the temperature in Harbin this winter is expected to range from -15°C to -25°C.
What to bring: Passport, fur-lined shoes, ear muffs, fur-lined leather gloves, down jacket, several layers of socks, padded pants, hat, scarf and mask.
Transportation: Advance booking for air or train tickets before mid-January is highly recommended, due to the popularity of the ice festival and the increased amount of travel associated with the winter vacation and the Lunar New Year Festival.
Pocket Tips: Hide your camera inside your jacket until you want to use it because the batteries go low faster in cold weather.
7th to 14th January: International Kite Festival, India
Celebrated every year in January since 1989, the International Kite Festival is when the skies over most cities of Gujarat, a state in the West of India, filled with kites before dawn until well after dark. Popularly known among locals with the name Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti, this celebration marks the day in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer.
In past years, master kite makers from many countries around the world have introduced unique creations to the festival, making it a special one that attracts lots of locals and tourists. There are wau-balang kites of the Malaysians, llayang-llayanghave come from Indonesia, kite innovators from the USA have arrived with giant banner kites, and Japanese rokkaku fighting kites have shared the skies with Italian sculptural kites, Chinese flying dragons, and the latest high-tech modern wonder.
Temperature: The Weather is pleasant with temperatures ranging between 5 and 20°C
What to bring: If your want to join the kite flyers, bring a kite with you. Otherwise, travel in your comfort and bring what you need, don’t forget your passport!
Transportation: You can start in the city of Ahmedabad as it has an international airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Mumbai before making the journey north to Ahmedabad by overnight sleeper train.
- Clothing: respect locals by wearing appropriately and avoiding any vulgarity in attires.
- Stay away from alcohol as hard drinks are prohibited in Gujarat
- Settle the charges prior to hiring any services
The 4th Saturday of January: Wakakusa Yamayaki, Japan
The Wakakusa Yamayaki is an annual grass-burning ceremony held on every 4th Saturday of January with hundred years of history. The grass on the hillside of Nara’s Mountain Wakakusayama is set on fire, which is preceded by a fireworks display.
Officially begins at noon, there are various minor events in the festival taking place around the base of the mountain such as the giant rice cracker (sembei) throwing competition. From 17:00, people start heading towards the mountain and lighting the torches along the way. Gathering around the base of Wakakusayama at around 17:30 with hundreds of spectators, they light a large bonfire partway up the mountainside
At 18:15, a firework display is held for about 15 minutes. Afterward, the grass is set on fire and gradually spreads all across the mountain. It usually takes 30 minutes to one hour for the entire area to burn, depending on the conditions of the grass each year.
Temperature: This time is winter in Nara, Japan, with temperatures go below 0°C
What to bring: Warm clothes and essential personal items
Transportation: Nara is near Osaka and Kyoto. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Nara Station from Osaka Namba Station, both on the Kintetsu Railway, and about 45 minutes to reach this old city from Kyoto Station via the JR Nara Line.
- The festival could be canceled due to bad weather, therefore; remember to keep the weather forecast in check regularly
- There are many good vantage points to view the fire: the base of the mountain, points throughout Nara Park and the city, or even further away – the former Heijo Palace site.