Carnival is not widely celebrated in Asia as the area but there are a few carnival celebrations that are worth checking out. Immerse yourself in a new culture and check out these seven places in Asia where you can celebrate carnival.
Goa Carnival, India
What is Carnival in Goa?
Goa Carnival has been occurring for over 500 years and dates right back to when Goa was a Portuguese Colony. Goa Carnival is full of incredible parades, colorful costumes, music, elaborate floats and incredible dances. Huge street celebrations occur all over the state with non-stop parties that run all night long.
During Goa Carnival there are lots of things to do and see including Goan theatre performances, Goan art, short plays, Goan music shows as well as see some eat some delicious Goan cuisine. It is the final day, Fat Tuesday that sees the most celebrations full of eating, drinking and merrymaking. There is a famous red-and-black dance that is held in the Clube Nacional in Panjim.
Just like in Brazil the celebrations are presided over by King Momo who opens the carnival by declaring ‘Kha, piye, and majja kar’, which means to eat, drink and have a lot of fun! King Momo leads the crowds in the parades and is followed by thousands of musicians, acrobats, clowns, dancers, brass bands, jesters, fire-eaters and more who feature in the Panaji Procession.
You might be interested: Read our Essential Guide to Carnival in Goa
Kandy Esala Perahera, Sri Lanka
What is carnival in Kandy?
The Kandy Esala Perahera which is also known as the Kandy Carnival or The Festival of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is one of the oldest and grandest Buddhist Festival’s in the world. It takes place in the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka and runs for ten days. It is held in the Sinhalese month of Esala which may fall in either July or August.
The Kandy Esala Perahera festival was held to not only commemorate the first teaching that was delivered by Buddha after he attained enlightenment but also to honour the sacred tooth relic that belonged to Buddha and is paraded out from the temple where its sits in Kandy, through the streets of the city. The parade of the sacred tooth is incredible and even features adorned Elephants.
You might be interested: Read our ultimate guidde to the Kandy Festival
What is carnival in Turkey?
Baklahorani is a carnival celebration that occurs annually in Istanbul, Turkey. It is held by members of the Greek-Orthodox community who live in Istanbul. It occurs on Rose Monday, which is the Monday prior to Lent. Carnival in Istanbul has been celebrated for around five centuries by the Greek Communities.
Baklahorani was actually banned in 1941 when a law was passed banning people from wearing masks. However, in 2010 nearly 70 years after the last celebration, the historical carnival was restored. It features a masked parade through the streets of the Sisli District in Istanbul. The Carnival features a masked parade and parties in the surrounding taverns.
Cochin Carnival, India
What is carnival in Cochin?
The Cochin Carnival takes place in Kerala India, another area that was colonised by the Portuguese. This carnival celebration takes place over the Christmas/New Year’s period and the celebrations are all about merrymaking and partying! The celebration takes place in Kochi Fort which used to be the capital of the Portuguese Colony several hundred years ago.
The celebration is full of parades, parties, sports competitions, music, street performances and fireworks. The biggest procession takes place on New Year’s Day and even features beautifully decorated elephants. In the lead up to the parade they burn the carnival king who looks a lot like Santa Clause and there is an amazing firework display at highlight on NYE.
You might be interested: Read our ultimate guide to Carnival in Cochin
Asakusa Samba Carnival, Japan
What is carnival in Japan?
When most people think of Japan, they don’t expect them to host a Brazilian style samba carnival. But that is exactly what the Asakusa Samba Carnival is, a Brazilian Samba Parade that takes place right in the middle of Tokyo. The Asakusa Samba Carnival takes place every summer in Japan and over a million people come out to watch the procession.
The procession is exactly what you would expect from a Brazil Samba Parade, lots of beautiful women wearing bright, colourful, sparkly carnival costumes that show off a lot of skin with match feathered headdresses. There are lots of samba floats, drummers and samba music as the Japanese battle against each other for the title of the best samba school!
You might be interested: Find out all about the Asakusa Samba Carnival here!
Solo Batik Carnival, Indonesia
What is carnival in Solo?
The Solo Batik Carnival occurs in the ancient royal city of Surakarta also known as Solo. The Solo Batik Carnival was created to showcase Javanese Culture and heritage. The carnival was also created to show off the ancient art of Batik, which is a method of cloth dying that the city is famous for.
The carnival features a big procession which turns the main streets of Solo into a giant batik catwalk. The participants must wear Batik Costumes and the procession is a fashion fiesta! The participants dance in their beautiful costumes down a 4km parade route.
You might be interested: Read more about the Solo Batik Carnival carnival here
Pawai Paskah Kupang, Indonesia
What is Carnival in Indonesia?
In the Roman Catholic community of Kupang located in Indonesia, they throw an annual carnival celebration called Pawai Paskah Kupang. About 25,000 Christians take part in the parade that consist of over 80 different carnival groups. The groups include interfaith organisations, youth organisations, NGO’s and educational institutions.
There are also a total of 14 different ethnic groups from various tribes who for the parade get dressed up in their traditional clothing. The parade is accompanied by hymns, music and floats. The floats are decorated with images of Jesus Christs. The aim of the carnival is to ensure that interfaith harmony in the community. This parade has been going for over 20 years.