Yunnan has the largest number of ethnic population in China with 25 ethnic minorities including Bai, Yi, Dai, Naxi, Hani, Miao, Tibetan, Hui and Yao, which promotes its colorful culture and customs. With different traditions and culture, festivals and activities in Yunnan are full of myths and celebrated by singing, dancing, paintings, etc. Here we provide the list of Yunnan’s most important festivals and events.

Major Festivals in Yunnan

Water-Splashing Festival of Dai

Date:In the middle of April(Lasting 3-7 days)
Place: Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Dehong Prefecture

The annual Water Splashing Festival of Dai people held from April 13 to 15 inspires people’s imagination of carnival and blessing. It is the “Oriental Carnival” that cannot be missed in Yunnan Travel

Water-Splashing Festival (泼水节) is also called Bath Buddha Festival(浴佛节). It is called Sangkanbimai/桑堪比迈(meaning New Year) in Dai ethnic language. Achang (阿昌族), De’ang(德昂族), Bulang(布朗族), Wa(佤族) and other ethnic groups also celebrate this festival. Its content includes folk activities, artistic performances, economic and trade exchanges, etc.

The Torch Festival of Yi

Date: 24th-26th day of the 6th lunar month
Place: Yi regions in Yunnan

The Torch Festival of Yi is one of the main holidays of the Yi ethnic people in southwest China and celebrated on the 24th or 25th day of the sixth month of the Yi ethnic calendar.

In the Torch Festival, every family needs to light a torch and hold the torch to illuminate the corners in the room and walk around the fields. Some villagers even have torch parade so as to drive away all bad lucks and pray for a harvest. People play music instruments like yusheng (乐声), yueqin (月琴) and sanxian/三弦 (three stringed plucked instrument), singing and dancing for a whole night.

March Street (Sanyuejie) Festival of Bai

Date: 15.-21. day of the 3 lunar month
Place: Bai areas in Yunnan, usually around Dali

March Street in Dali is the most solemn traditional festival in Dali. In 1992, it became an ethnic festival of Dali and held from the 15th to the 21st of the third lunar month, lasting 7 days, which is the biggest traditional festival of Bai nationality.

Dali March Street gets its name from the annual festival held in the third month of the lunar calendar. It is the largest and most attended annual folk market festival in Yunnan that integrates trade, culture, sports, food and customs activities. There are big trade fair, horse racing, dances during the March Fair.

Sanduo Festival of Naxi

Date:  Mar. 14, 2019
Place: Lijiang

The Sanduo Festival is a traditional festival of the Naxi ethnic group. The festival takes place on the 8th of the second Chinese lunar month. During the festival the Naxi ethnic people gather around Sanduo Temple (also known as Beiyue Temple ), located in Baisha, Lijiang, for a grand memorial and scarified ceremony.

This ceremony involves a variety of entertainment and trade activities like horse racing, antiphonal singing, picnic and interchange of goods. It’s early spring in lijiang during this period of time, it  is great to have a tour to Lijiang, where you will experience the unique festival of Naxi people and enjoy the rural life in Lijiang.

Sword Pole Festival of Lisu

Date: 8nd day of the second lunar month
Place: Lisu Regions in Yunnan

Sword Pole Festival is one of the traditional festivals among the Lisu people, in memory of Wang Ji 王骥, a Defense Minister in the Ming Dynasty, who fought bravely, daring to climb a mountain of swords and plung into a sea of flames. The date of his death, the 8th of August on the Chinese lunar Calendar, was named the The Festival of Climbing Sword-poles. 

On that day, the Lisu people hold such activities as climbing sword-poles and plunging into a sea of flames to show their bravery. A few strong young men jump into a sea of fire with bare feet and perform a variety of stunts. At night, there are dances and singing around a bonfire.

Other major festival in Yunnan:

Yunnan Festival and Events by Month

Yunnan Festival and Events by Region

Yunnan Minority Festival Tour

A visit to Yunnan offers an unique and exciting experience of ethnic customs with more than 400 ethnic minorities festivals celebrated throughout the year. Yunnan Exploration offer various minority festival tours for your reference, or customize one for you.