Major festivals in April in Yunnan

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.


Pilgrimage to West Mt
Date: 9 April
Place: West Mt Forest Park, Kunming
The pilgrimage is held at West Mt on each lunar 3 March (9 April) 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 festivals in Kunming in which many locals participate, and the festival includes a number of significant traditional cultural shows.


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. 

Bathing the Buddha, Jinghong, Xishuangbanna

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 (13-16 April) coincides with the annual Border Trade and Tourism Fair (14 April) which has annually been held since 1998.

Water fight is a big fun during the festival, Xishuangbanna

During 10-15 April in Gaozhuangxishuangjing, a music festival and intangible cultural heritage exhibition will be held; and in the newly opened Wanda Resort, a rainforest tent festival, a grand ceremony of bathing the Buddha and a festooned vehicle parade will take place. 

The Water Splashing Festival, Mangshi, Dehong

Dehong (11-14 April) 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 in the west of Yunnan, Mengla Town of Jinping County 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. 

Local Dai people pick flowers to be used as offerings for the Buddha, Jinggu County

In and around Kunming, the best places for experiencing the water splashing festival include Yunnan Nationalities Village (9-17 April) and the Jiulong Waterfalls Scenic Area of Luoping County (9 April) where the Buyi ethnic members organise events including song fest on lunar 3 March (9 April). 

The Water Splashing Festival, Yunnan Nationalities Village, Kunming


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


Holy Fish Festival 
Date: 12 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


March Street Festival
Date: 21-25 April
Place: Dali 
Annually held in lunar March, the March Street Festival has enjoyed a history of more than 1,000 years. Referred to as "Guan Yin Shi" (market for Goddess of Mercy) or "Guan Yin Hui"(temple fair for Goddess of Mercy) in old times, the Festival has become an important traditional event for economic and cultural exchange between different ethnic groups in Dali area.


Transport to Dali (340 km)
Flight or train to Dali; bus ride from Kunming West Bus Station


Peony Culture Tourism Festival
Date: 15 March-15 May 
Place: Wuding County, Central Yunnan
The 2 month long festival is highlighted by the blooming peony flowers especially those on the Shizi Mt which is a famous Buddhist adobe in central Yunnan. 


Transport to Wuding (80 km)
Bus ride from Kunming North Bus Station


Dongba Priests Assembly
Date: 11 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 to Lijiang (500 km)
Flight from Kunming; train from Kunming; or bus ride from Kunming West Bus Station