April: Festivals You Should Know about

During the month of April, many ethnic communities in Yunnan celebrate their colorful traditional festivals and ceremonies. Many of these communities are also well represented in Kunming providing visitors to the city with the opportunity to experience and participate in the celebration. However for those travelling in and around Yunnan here are some of the festivals they can attend:


Water-splashing Festival

The Dai ethnic group celebrate their New Year Festival by with a number of cultural and social events of which the ceremony of Bathing the Buddha and the Water Festival where they splash water on each other. The wonderful ethnic food and elegant dance performances are prominent features of these celebrations. 

The most exuberant celebrations for the water-splashing festival are held in the City of Jinghong in Xishuangbanna (on the border of China and Laos) which is home to the biggest Dai community in China. The festival (13-15 April) coincides with the annual Border Trade and Tourism Fair which has annually been held since 1998. 

Dehong in the west of Yunnan on the border of China and Myanmar is another must-go place to enjoy the water splashing festival which is also celebrated by other ethnic groups such as the Achang, and De'ang. The festival is also celebrated in Baoshan (12 April) in the west of Yunnan, Mengla Town of Jinping County (18-20 April) in the south of Yunnan, and Jinggu County (middle April) in the south of Yunnan. In Jinggu, visitors can witness local Dai people pick flowers to be used as offerings for the Buddha.

In and around Kunming, the best places for experiencing the water splashing festival include Yunnan Nationalities Village and the Jiulong Waterfalls Scenic Area of Luoping County (21 April) where the Buyi ethnic members organise events including song fest on lunar 3 March (21 April)


To Jinghong (Xishuangbanna) (536 km)
Flight from Kunming; or bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station


To Jinggu County (465 km)
Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station


To Mangshi (Dehong) (630 km)
Flight from Kunming, or bus ride from Kunming West Bus Station


To Jiulong Waterfalls (250 km)
Bus ride from Kunming East Bus Station to Luoping (224 km); or train from Kunming to Luoping (224 km) then local bus ride


To Mengla of Jinping County (430 km)
Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station to Jinping, then local bus ride


Lahu Ethnic Gourd Festival
Date: 7-9 April
Place: Hulu (Gourd) Square, Lancang County
The Gourd Festival is the most unique among many of the Lahu people living Lancang County in the southwest of Yunnan. Called Ah Peng Ah Long Ni in the Lahu ethnic dialect, the celebration of the festival features grand cultural activities including opening gala, Lahu ethnic song fest, dance performances, traditional costumes show, bonfire parties, trade fair, and visitors to attend this festival can also explore the ancient tea gardens and local ethnic residences etc.

Transport to Lancang (590 km)

Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station; or flight to Pu'er then bus ride


Holy Fish Festival
Date: 10-14 April
Place: Nayun Town of Menglian County, Pu’er City
This traditional festival is unique to the Nayun people. In the certain area of the river near the town, tens of thousands of locals join in the fishing for which the traditional fishing skills of the ethnic groups including Dai, Lahu and Wa etc are used. Visitors will definitely have a very impressive experience. Nayun is one of the rare Dai ethnic towns well preserved in China. 

Transport to Menglian (460 km)
Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station; or flight from Kunming to Pu'er then bus ride


China Pu'er Tea Festival
Date: April
Place: Simao District, Pu'er City
It is the tea-themed festival annually held since 1993 in Pu'er which is deemed the Tea Capital in China. Lots of activities and events are organised including various cultural shows put on by ethnic communities including Yi, Lahu, Dai, and Wa living in different parts of Pu'er City, and what is the most important is those activities concerning Pu'er tea which originates from Yunnan.

Transport to Pu'er (420 km)

Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station; or flight from Kunming to Pu'er


5th Wa Ethnic Wooden Drum Festival
Date: 11-13 April
Place: County seat of Ximeng
The wooden drum festival for 2015, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Ximeng Wa Autonomous County, is the traditional festival of the Wa ethnic group who are said to be the last to step out of primitive society in China. Most of the Wa people live in Ximeng of Pu'er and Cangyuan of Lincang, both of which are with a backdrop of wonderful natural environment, and Ximeng is the best place where visitors can experience a series of ceremonies and cultural shows of the Wa people.


Transport to Ximeng (650 km)
Bus ride from Kunming South Bus Station; or flight from Kunming to Pu'er then bus ride


Cherry Festival of Zixi Mt, Chuxiong
Date: 15 April--5 May
Place: Zixi Mt, Chuxiong City
Though in the name of cherries which are soon ripe, visitors to this festival can visit the Yi People's Ancient Town in Chuxiong City. The town has been constructed only for several years, but it offers visitors cultural experience of the Yi ethnic group. For example, the Solar Calendar Square is rare in China.

On the way to Chuxiong, visitors can also stop to visit Lufeng Dinosaur Valley where the fossils are really huge and have a considerable number. 


Transport to Chuxiong (150 km)
Bus ride from Kunming West Bus Station, or train from Kunming


Yi Ethnic Zuojiao (left foot) Dance Festival
Date: 16 April

Place: Mouding County, Chuxiong Prefecture
The Zuojiao (left foot) Dance of the Yi people living in Mouding County is one of the state-level intangible cultural heritages in Yunnan Province. The dance will be participated by a large number of fully attired Yi people many of whom play local guitars when dancing. In 2011, the Left-foot Dance Joined by One Thousand People was included into the Guinness Records. 50 km away from the Mouding county seat is Huafo Mt which is a famous Buddhist adobe in Central Yunnan.

Transport to Mouding (190 km)

Bus ride from Kunming Northwest Bus Station


Guanyin Festival of Alu Ancient Cave
Date: 7 April (lunar 29 February)
Place: Alu Ancient Cave Scenic Area, Luxi County
Lunar 29 February is said to be the birthday of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy). Since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), locals in and around Luxi have kept a tradition to visit Alu Ancient Cave for making vows and holding sacrificial ceremonies. 

Visitors bound for this event can also visit the Chengzi Village which features a big number of Yi ethnic traditional earthen houses.


Transport to Luxi (190 km)
Bus ride from Kunming East Bus Station


Qianhuahui (One Thousand Flowers) Festival& March 3rd Festival
Date: 21-23 April
Place: Wulong Town, Shizong County
The Qianhuahui (One Thousand Flowers) Festival was first held in 2002 during each March 3rd Festival in Wulong which is a tranquil, small town called home by Zhuangs, Yis and Yaos whose traditional costumes are different from other parts of Yunnan. Activities at the festival include rafting in Wulong River, Bamboo Pole Dance, water splashing, bonfire parties, Zhuang ethnic song fest, and so on.

Another place for experience the March 3rd Festival (21 April) in Qujing Prefecture is the Jiulong Waterfalls Scenic Area in Luoping County where you can join in the water splashing and song fest of the Buyi people.


To Wulong (233 km)
Bus ride to Shizong (180 km) from Kunming East bus station; or train ride from Kunming then local bus ride.


To Jiulong Waterfalls (250 km)
Bus (Kunming East Bus Station) or train ride from Kunming to Luoping (224 km) then local bus ride


Pilgrimage to West Mt on Lunar 3 March

Date: 21 April
Place: West Mt Forest Park, Kunming
The pilgrimage is held at West Mt on each lunar 3 March which is said to be the birthday of the Taoist God Zhenwu. The festival at West Mountain where the God Zhenwu is enshrined in the Dragon Gate Grottos and is one of the most traditional in Kunming in which many locals participate, and the festival includes a number of significant traditional cultural shows.


Zhuang Ethnic March 3rd Festival
Date: 21 April
Place: County seat of Qiubei
It is traditionally celebrated by the local Zhuangs of Qiubei which is famous for peppers in Yunnan and the Karst landscapes in Puzhehei Scenic Area. Activities for the festival also include sacrificial ceremonies for the Dragon, singing and dancing, and traditional ethnic costumes show etc.

Transport to Qiubei (330 km)

Bus ride from Kunming East Bus Station


Guangnan County
There are two important traditional festivals in April in Guangnan County where the so-called "Peach Blossom Valley"-Bamei Scenic area is. On lunar 3 March (21 April) will come the Sowing Festival (at Guangnan county seat) for which various programs will be organised including sacrificial ceremonies for Dimu Goddess (or Goddess of Earth), tour of folk troupes, and sowing ceremony etc.

The next day (22 April) will be the Huajie Festival of the Zhuangs at Tuzhe Town, and Sacrificial Ceremony for Anhua Infanta at Huanggu Temple in Guangnan county seat. All these two festivals will be coupled with Zhuang ethnic cultural shows including Handkerchief Dance, traditional costumes show of the Yis and Zhuangs etc, song fest and so on. 

Transport to Guangnan (420 km)

Bus ride from Kunming East Bus Station


Dongba Priests Assembly
Date: 23 April
Place: Jade Water Village, Lijiang
Sacrificial ceremonies of this festival are dedicated to Dongbasheluo who is said to be the founder of Dongba religion for the Naxi people living in and around Lijiang. Dongda priests from around Lijiang will gather to exchange experiences and knowledge.


Transport Lijiang (500 km)
Flight from Kunming; train from Kunming; or Bus ride from Kunming West Bus Station

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