Unveil Dubai’s Spectacular Festivals: A Journey Through Cultural Extravaganza

Dubai is synonymous with luxury shopping and futuristic skylines. But beneath the gleaming facade lies a vibrant cultural tapestry, unveiled during its many spectacular festivals. So, pack your bags and ditch the itinerary – Dubai’s festivals are your guide to authentic experiences!

Dubai Shopping Festival (December-January)

This granddaddy of all Dubai festivals transforms the city into a shopper’s paradise. Unbelievable discounts, dazzling fireworks displays, and live entertainment paint the town red. But beyond the retail therapy, witness cultural performances and traditional souks come alive, offering a glimpse into Emirati heritage.

Dubai Food Festival (February)

Foodies, rejoice! This month-long extravaganza is a celebration of global flavours. From Michelin-starred galas to international food trucks, your taste buds will embark on a culinary adventure. Don’t miss the chance to savour Emirati delicacies and participate in cooking demonstrations, learning the secrets of fragrant spices and slow-cooked stews.

Dubai International Film Festival (December)

Calling all cinema enthusiasts! This prestigious event showcases the best of world cinema, with red-carpet galas and screenings by acclaimed directors. It’s a platform for cultural exchange, where you can rub shoulders with filmmakers and discover hidden cinematic gems.

Dubai Desert Classic (February)

Experience the thrill of world-class tennis amidst the majestic desert backdrop. Witness top players battle it out on the court while enjoying the atmosphere and cultural performances that complement the sporting action.

Dubai Summer Surprises (June-August)

Escape the summer heat with a calendar brimming with the most interesting things to see and do in Dubai. World-class musicals, family-friendly entertainment shows, and mall promotions with extended shopping hours keep the city buzzing. This is the perfect time to experience indoor attractions and cultural centres at your own pace. Retreat back to the comforts of your room at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort if the heat gets unbearable.

Amazing Cultural Festivals in Cambodia – Immerse Yourself in Colourful Traditions

Cambodia’s vibrant culture comes alive throughout the year with a dazzling array of festivals. From joyous celebrations to solemn observances, each event offers a unique window into the heart and soul of this captivating country.

Choul Chnam Thmey

Welcome the traditional Cambodian New Year, Choul Chnam Thmey, and experience a joyful nationwide celebration. This three-day extravaganza in mid-April coincides with the Angkor Sankranta Festival in Siem Reap, making it the perfect time to visit Angkor Wat within easy reach of properties like Anantara Angkor Resort. Experience the local New Year and witness traditional ceremonies, water blessings, and colourful parades bursting with colour and music.

Bon Om Touk

Experience the dynamic energy of the Cambodian Water Festival or Bon Om Touk in October or early November. This annual event, mainly held in Phnom Penh marks the end of the rainy season and is known for its heart-pounding Pirogue longboat races on the Tonle Sap River. The festival comes alive with vibrant music, captivating dance performances, and delectable local cuisine – a feast for all senses! Meanwhile, those staying at a luxury hotel in Siem Reap can also enjoy this festival in Angkor with more festivities in store.

Vesak Bochea

Vesak Bochea, or Visak Bochea, honours the life of Lord Buddha. Devout Buddhists gather at temples nationwide on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, usually in April or May. This solemn occasion celebrates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing into Nirvana. Participate in temple ceremonies, observe candlelit processions, and join in helping the less fortunate. Be prepared to also experience the profound sense of peace that permeates the air.

Pchum Ben 

Pchum Ben, also known as Ancestors’ Day, is a poignant 15-day festival observed throughout Cambodia, usually in September or October. The locals believe the spirits of their ancestors descend upon Earth during this time. Families gather to offer food and prayers at temples, seeking merit for their loved ones in the afterlife. Witness the preparation of elaborate meals and see the reverence with which Cambodians honour their ancestors and elders.

Makati’s Business-oriented Landscape

Beyond its corporate allure, Makati also presents an enticing canvas for hosting events of all scales and genres. Its strategic location, coupled with world-class facilities and amenities, positions Makati as an ideal destination for businesses seeking to leave a lasting impression through memorable and successful events. From luxurious hotels to state-of-the-art convention centres, Makati offers a plethora of venues tailored to cater to the diverse needs of event organisers.

Events – Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

The “True” Center

Makati is commonly hailed as the nexus of Metro Manila’s northern and southern regions, earning its status as the bustling urban core it is today. Its strategic positioning renders Makati highly accessible for guests, suppliers, and event collaborators alike.

Access to supplies and suppliers

Whether you prefer hands-on decoration or seek professional assistance, Makati is encircled by malls and business hubs offering diverse options tailored to every budget. Moreover, the abundance of printing shops in the vicinity makes reproducing print materials and other event collaterals a breeze – ideal for suitors of studio apartments in Metro Manila, such as the Ascott Makati.

Variety of Event Spaces

Due to its widespread popularity, Makati offers a plethora of choices when it comes to event venues, ranging in size, available amenities, catering partnerships, and more. Whether you seek specific features such as ample natural lighting or verdant garden spaces, Makati serves as an ideal starting point for scouting.

Assured Safety

Makati City boasts its status as one of the safest urban centers in the Philippines, ranking fourth in Southeast Asia according to the Numbeo Safety Index 2019, with an impressive Safety Index rate of 59.48 points. Mayor Abby Binay lauds the city government’s unwavering dedication to safety, affirming their commitment to fostering resilient communities where residents can thrive securely.

Key Events and Festivals in Maldives Celebrated Each Year – A Time for Reflection & Celebration!

The Maldives offers much more than sublime island getaways and its rich heritage is intertwined with festivals and events held throughout the year. If you are planning a trip here, consider aligning your visit with one of these festivals to experience the true essence of Maldivian life.

Ramadan

Ramadan – Image via Flickr

Ramadan

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a holy month observed by Maldivians (and Muslims across the world) with reverence. During this time, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk. However, the spirit of Ramadan transcends fasting. It’s a period of spiritual reflection, prayer, charity, and community. As dusk approaches, the day culminates in Iftar, a joyous feast shared with family and friends.

Eid al-Fitr (Kuda Eid)

Marking the end of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, also known locally as ‘Kuda Eid’, is a joyous celebration.  Excitement fills the air as families and friends gather for special prayers at mosques. It is customary for people to also make charitable donations, visit loved ones and exchange gifts. Grand feasts with traditional dishes and sweet treats are enjoyed as well. This is a great time for holidays at private island resorts like OBLU NATURE Helengeli by SENTIDO where one can experience stays at luxury villas in Maldives and the festive atmosphere.

Independence Day

Independence Day – Image via Pexels

On the 26th of July, Maldivians commemorate their independence from British rule in 1965. Patriotism takes centre stage with flag-raising ceremonies and national parades featuring the National Security Services, especially in the capital, Male. Traditional music and cultural performances on this day also showcase the rich heritage of the islands and the deep-rooted sense of national pride.

Republic Day

Every 11th of November, the Maldives celebrates Republic Day, commemorating the establishment of the republic in 1968. This day marks a significant shift from a sultanate to a republic. Official ceremonies are held, often accompanied by flag-hoisting ceremonies, speeches, parades, and cultural performances. Republic Day serves as a reminder of the nation’s democratic journey and its aspirations for the future.

Celebrating Culture and Tradition – Festivals in Sri Lanka

 

Sri Lanka, with its rich tapestry of culture and tradition, is home to a vibrant array of festivals that celebrate the island’s diverse religious and cultural heritage. From colourful processions and elaborate rituals to spirited dances and traditional music, these festivals offer a unique glimpse into the heart and soul of Sri Lankan society. Explore some of the most significant festivals in Sri Lanka, where the spirit of celebration and community comes alive in a dazzling display of colour and spectacle.

Vesak | img via flickr

Sinhala and Tamil New Year (Avurudu):
Sinhala and Tamil New Year, known locally as Avurudu, is one of the most eagerly anticipated festivals in Sri Lanka, celebrated by both Sinhalese and Tamil communities with great enthusiasm. Taking place in April, Avurudu marks the dawn of the new year and is observed with a series of traditional customs and rituals, including the lighting of the hearth (ane kuduwa), the preparation of sweetmeats (kiribath), and the traditional game of avurudu kumaraya (New Year sports). Festive decorations adorn homes and streets, while families come together to share meals and exchange gifts, fostering a sense of unity and goodwill.

Vesak (Buddha Purnima):
Vesak, also known as Buddha Purnima, commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha, making it one of the most sacred festivals in the Buddhist calendar. Celebrated in May, Vesak is marked by colourful lanterns, illuminated pandals depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, and offerings of flowers and candles at temples across the country. Devotees participate in poya (full moon) day ceremonies, perform acts of charity, and observe sil (precepts) as a form of spiritual purification, reflecting the principles of compassion, generosity, and mindfulness taught by the Buddha.

Esala Perahera:
The Esala Perahera, held annually in the sacred city of Kandy, is one of the grandest and most spectacular religious processions in Asia. Taking place over ten nights in July or August, this vibrant pageant pays homage to the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, housed in the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa). Elephants adorned in colourful regalia, traditional dancers, drummers, and flag bearers parade through the streets of Kandy, accompanied by the sound of chanting and the scent of incense, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that captivates spectators from around the world. If you want to discover the cultural heritages in Sri Lanka this would be the best time to visit.

Kataragama Esala Festival:
The Kataragama Esala Festival, held in the sacred town of Kataragama in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka, is a multicultural celebration that draws devotees from diverse religious backgrounds. Dedicated to the deity Kataragama Deviyo, revered by Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims alike, this festival features colourful processions, fire-walking rituals, and elaborate ceremonies held at the Kataragama Temple. Pilgrims offer prayers and seek blessings for health, prosperity, and spiritual fulfilment, reflecting the spirit of unity and harmony that pervades this sacred site. You can find out more info about all these festivals on sites like Truly Sri Lanka.

Navaratri (Durga Puja):
Navaratri, also known as Durga Puja, is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of the goddess Durga and her nine divine forms. Celebrated in September or October, Navaratri is marked by vibrant processions, elaborate pujas (ritual offerings), and spirited performances of classical dance and music. Devotees fast, recite sacred texts, and participate in religious ceremonies to honour the divine feminine and seek her blessings for protection, prosperity, and spiritual awakening.

Celebrating the Songkran Festival – A Time for Family and Fun

The Songkran Festival, also known as the Thai New Year, is a vibrant and joyous celebration deeply rooted in Thai culture and tradition. Held annually from April 13th to 15th, this auspicious occasion marks the beginning of the traditional Thai solar calendar. It is a time of renewal, purification, and the welcoming of fresh beginnings. Throughout Thailand, streets come alive with spirited water fights, elaborate parades, and colourful ceremonies that pay homage to Buddhism and Thai customs.

Songkran Festival

Songkran Festival – Image via Flickr

The Festival and Symbolism

The term “Songkran” in Thai signifies ‘to move’ or ‘movement’ and the Songkran Festival is determined by the transition of the sun from one zodiac position, Pisces, to another position, Aries. Also referred to as the Water Splashing Festival, it holds significance as the Thai New Year celebration. In Buddhism, water symbolizes renewal, with devotees splashing water on Buddha statues for good fortune, while younger generations honour their elders by bathing their hands in return for blessings.

Origins and Timing

The Songkran Festival is an annual celebration observed from April 13th to April 15th. Commencing with an official opening ceremony on April 13th in major cities across Thailand, the festival heralds the beginning of festivities. While traditionally spanning three days, the holiday’s duration extends in various regions. This timing traces back to the migration of the Thai people from southern China to Thailand circa 200 BC. Originally following a lunar calendar, they adjusted their New Year to coincide with April, marking the conclusion of the dry season, as they settled into the climate of Central Thailand.

The Three Days of Songkran

During the Songkran Festival, April 13th marks Song Nam Phra (‘Pouring Water on Monks’) Day, featuring Buddha image processions and spirited water fights. April 14th, also called Wan Nao, commemorates the old Thai New Year’s Eve and serves as National Family Day, emphasizing family bonding. Finally, April 15th, Wan Payawan (‘Bathing Buddha’) Day, signifies the start of the New Year with widespread festivities including continuous water battles, concerts, street food, and various celebrations across the nation.

Traditional Activities during the festival

Songkran festival

Songkran festival – Image via Flickr

During the Songkran Festival, numerous traditional activities take place. Water splashing, a beloved tradition, offers respite from the April heat, with streets transforming into lively arenas for playful water fights using pipes, buckets, and water guns, welcoming both locals and foreigners. Cleaning rituals symbolize renewal, as homes, temples, and public spaces are tidied to welcome the New Year, around every part, no matter if it’s a Sukhumvit hotel like the well-known Travelodge Sukhumvit 11, or a restaurant corner. 

Traditional music and culture of Oman– A Significant Feature of Oman’s Cultural Identity

Over the years, as the Sultans of Oman have had a passion for music, it has been carefully preserved. It is also an essential aspect of Omani culture.

Omani Music – Photo by Julius Yls on Unsplash

History of Omani Music

If staying at a property such as the Oman Hotels take the time to visit the Oman Centre for Traditional Music. This is a great place to learn the history of Omani music. Furthermore, as Oman’s ancient melodies were composed anonymously their intellectual property rights are open to the public. Thus, it is easy to listen to these songs and also easy for anyone to perform them.

Culture of Omani Music

If staying at one of the Oman Hotels you would have had a chance to listen to Omani music. It would have then been obvious that this music was influenced by a variety of genres. That is because this music has a multi-ethnic background. This essentially means that it was influenced by the music and dance of Persia, India and East Africa.

Unique Aspect of Omani Music

Omani Music – Photo by Julius Yls on Unsplash

While music in the Arabic region has many similarities, the same could not be said for Omani music. That is because it has a rhythmic feature as this music has been composed according to the theory of rhythm. Another unique feature of this music is that it is often accompanied by a dance.

Importance of Music in the Omani Culture

In Oman, music plays an integral part of the education system as students are not only taught the history of music. Instead, they are also strongly motivated to learn the art of music. Thus, to further encourage individuals to learn music there are associations such as the Oman Oud Hobbyist Association.

A Vibrant Tapestry of Omani Festivals and Celebrations : Colors of Celebration – Oman Festivals That You Cannot Miss

When planning a visit to Oman, make sure to plan your trip around the festivals of Oman. These are not to be missed and are a true reflection of Omani culture.

Sultan Camel Race Cup

If you are staying at a property such as the Al Falaj Hotel in the summer, then make sure to witness one of the oldest Arab sports – Camel Racing. Taking place at the Royal Cavalry track at Al Felaij, camels especially trained for racing compete during this festival.

Salalah Festival

Beginning in mid-July, this festival goes on until late August. As this festival occurs during the monsoon season, the city of Salalah is cool and full of greenery. In addition to hosting cultural shows, games and circuses, one would also find food stalls at this festival. Furthermore, the days tend to end with fireworks – which is always a family favourite, making this one of the best things to do in Oman, Muscat.

Muscat Festival

This is easily regarded as the biggest festival in Oman as it lasts from January to February. During these two months, the festival tends to showcase various performances and programs that reflect the Omani culture. There are also camel races, educational programmes, fireworks and contests.

Eid Al Adha

Considered the most important religious festival, Eid signifies the end of Ramadan. After a month of fasting, individuals celebrate this holy festival by visiting the mosques. After that, the festivities begin by visiting relatives, giving gifts and feasting on festive food. As this festival lasts for three days, visitors can truly witness the spirit of Eid during this time.

Key Religious Festivals in Maldives – A Vital Part of Local Culture and Beliefs

Religious festivals play a major role in the culture of the Maldives and since it is a fully Muslim nation, these events are not surprisingly, linked to Islam. From vibrant celebrations to reflective observances here are some of the main festivals held annually.

Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday

In commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, the Maldives joins the Islamic world in celebrating Mawlid un-Nabi on the third month of the Islamic calendar (Rabi al-Awwal). Mosques resounding with prayers, street processions, recitation of Sufi poems and communities coming together in harmonious festivities create an atmosphere of unity and reverence.

Ramadan

Ramadan

Ramadan – Image via Flickr

Experience the serene aura that blankets the Maldives during the holy month of Ramadan. A key aspect of this period is the dally fast from dawn to sunset as devotees engage in prayer, reflection, and charitable acts. Be you staying at an adults-only island or the best family resort in the Maldives, you may get to savour iftar during this period, the traditional evening meal typically eaten at the end of the fast each day.

Eid-Ul Fitr

The culmination of Ramadan brings the joyous festival of Eid-Ul Fitr. Devotees will attend their mosque and engage in communal prayers, while families come together for festive meals, as well as to exchange gifts, play traditional games and donate to the poor. Those staying at private resorts like OBLU SELECT Sangeli or exploring local islands can truly experience the warm hospitality that extends the spirit of Eid, inviting travellers to join the celebrations.

Eid al-Adha 

Eid al-Adha or Bodu Eid, is known as the Festival of Sacrifice, a time of profound reflection and generosity linked to the story of Ibrahim. Eid al-Adha also marks the day following Hajj and the completion of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. On this day in the Maldives, it is customary for locals to engage in morning Eid prayer, prepare traditional food and share meals with family, friends, and neighbours.

Festive Delights

While Sri Lanka may not experience a wintry Christmas, the festive spirit is alive and well across the island. Embrace the unique blend of tropical traditions and holiday cheer as you explore the enchanting activities available during the Christmas season in Sri Lanka:

Colombo’s Christmas Street Decorations

Begin your festive journey in Colombo, where the streets come alive with vibrant Christmas decorations. Explore the city’s commercial hubs, such as Colombo 7 and Pettah, to witness sparkling lights, themed displays, and a joyful atmosphere.

Attend Midnight Mass

Experience the essence of Christmas by attending Midnight Mass at one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful churches. Immerse yourself in soul-stirring carols, candlelit ambience, and the spirit of togetherness.

Galle Face Green Celebrations

Head to Galle Face Green in style with a sweet ride from places that offer vintage cars for rent such as Malkey Rent A Car for a lively Christmas celebration. The open seaside promenade transforms into a festive hub with food stalls, entertainment, and a cheerful atmosphere perfect for family gatherings.

Christmas Markets and Bazaars

Explore Christmas markets and bazaars that pop up across major cities. These markets offer a delightful array of seasonal treats, handmade crafts, and festive decorations. Look out for events like the Good Market Christmas Market for sustainable and ethical shopping.

Christmas Eve Dinner at Top Hotels

Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Eve Dinner – Image via Pxhere

Indulge in a special Christmas Eve dinner at one of Sri Lanka’s luxury hotels and holiday villas in Sri Lanka. Many hotels host extravagant festive buffets and dinners featuring a mix of traditional Sri Lankan and international cuisine.