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Upcoming festivals in the Asia Pacific

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16 May 2012 by Luke McCormick

Festivals provide a great opportunity to soak up local culture in your chosen destination. Here's our pick of some of the best coming up over the next few months.

Tsechu Festival

The Tsechu festival in Thimpu is one of two major annual festivals that see the small kingdom of Bhutan burst into life. Each autumn, hundreds gather to the capital to see the monks, dressed in brightly coloured robes wearing vibrant masks, perform ritual dances honouring the life of Guru Rimpoche - the Precious Teacher - and bestow blessings of good fortune to the crowds.

As well as a chance to brush up on Buddhist dharma, this four day festival represents a rare opportunity for locals to gather and socialise in their finest clothing with a carnival atmosphere clearly present around the courtyard of the Tashichhoedzong or "Fortress of the glorious religion" the centre of government and religion in Bhutan as the site of the monarch's throne room and seat of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot).

A 10-night guided itinerary to the festival starts from £2,999 departing 23 September and returning 04 October, which includes flights, transfers, ensuite accommodation, all breakfasts and 8 lunches and dinners.

Tueng Ng Festival, Hong Kong, China - 23 June

Enjoy the excited buzz of the crowds that flock to Stanley Harbour to watch the best Dragon boat teams battle it out during the Tueng Ng Festival. Originally created to commemorate the untimely death of Qu Yuan, a popular poet and statesman 2,000 years ago, today, the highlight of this festival is watching the elaborately carved dragon boats propelled by crews of 20-22 paddlers race over the waters of the harbour.

The big races are accompanied by drums, firecrackers, dragon dances and traditional sticky rice and meat dumplings for a traditional, fun-filled day.

A 4-day 'Best of Hong Kong' itinerary includes a guided tour of Lantau island, three nights at the 5-star Intercontinental Hotel and a cruise of the harbour as well as transfers and international flights with Emirates from London via Dubai.

Prices from £1,395 per person valid until 15 July. This can be arranged as part of a longer tailor-made holiday to China or as a stopover en route to another Asian destination or Australia.

Hunter Valley Food & Wine month, Hunter Valley, near Sydney, Australia

Taste and smell freshly pressed olive oils, learn the intricacies of cheese making and enjoy classic wines from the prestigious Hunter Valley region throughout June as part of Hunter Valley Food & Wine month.

A 7-night package starts from £1720 per person including international flights to Sydney with Qantas from Heathrow, 4 nights in Sydney and 3 nights in the Hunter Valley, 4-star room only accommodation and 3 days car hire.

Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters opens in Perth, Australia

From 16 June until 03 September, visitors to the art gallery of Western Australia will have the pleasure of seeing over 100 works on display by some of the world's most highly respected artists including Matisse, Mondrian and Duchamp in Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters.

We can arrange a visit to Perth as part of an 11-day Margaret River & the West Coast itinerary which can be tailor-made as desired from £2,805 per person based on two sharing.

See all of Sydney light up - Vivid Sydney Festival of Light, Art & Ideas - Sydney, Australia - 25 May to 11 June

For over two weeks, enjoy the night time spectacle as some of Sydney's best known buildings and public spaces such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour transform into a rainbow of glowing, interactive, multi-media art.

In addition to the city wide illuminations, Vivid Sydney will also showcase the city's role as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific by playing host to artistic collaborations, public talks and debates with leading creative thinkers from Australia and around the world.

A 7-night package starts from £1720 per person including international flights to Sydney with Qantas from Heathrow, 4 nights in Sydney and 3 nights in the Hunter Valley, 4-star room only accommodation and 3 days car hire.

Enjoy one of the big three Matsuri- Aoi Matsuri, Kyoto, Japan - 15 May

One of the three major festivals of Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, Aoi Matsuri is a traditional festival dedicated to the gods of Thunder and Lightning. Aoi is Japanese for hollyhock, a plant that was thought to prevent against natural disasters and is still used to adorn both the shrines of the gods and the imperial palace during the festival.

Although events take place throughout May, the main festivities take place on the 15th, beginning with a brightly coloured procession of people dressed in traditional costume. Other events include demonstrations of mounted archery and traditional dance.

We offer a 'Best of Japan' itinerary that includes a visit to the UNESCO listed city of Kyoto, as well as Nara, Tokyo and the Japanese Alps. The 14-day itinerary, which can be tailor-made as specified starts from £2,870 per person based on two sharing, including flights.

Signal the end of the dry season with a bang - Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival - Laos - 12-13 May

This noisy nationwide Lao festival traces its roots to pre-Buddhist times when rain ceremonies were thought to be necessary to wake up the gods and commence the rainy season to irrigate the rice fields. Today, locals have found a very effective way to ‘wake' the gods- by launching a large number of homemade rockets into the sky.

The celebration now also coincides with Visakha Puja, another major festival celebrating the birth of Buddha, and together the two festivals produce candlelit processions, parades, songs, dances and parties all leading up to the launch of the large ornate bamboo rockets that are blessed before being fired into the skies as high as possible.

Experience this amazing sight as well as other highlights, such as the 2,000 years old yet unexplained Plain of Jars, and the Hmong and Yao hill tribes that live in forest on a 10-day trip, which can be tailor-made as specified, starting from £2,330 per person based on two sharing, including flights.

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