Agenda: Calendar of festivals

Take part in friendly water fights and street parties to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.
Take part in friendly water fights and street parties to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year.PHOTOS: HOTELS.COM, KAYAK
View cherry blossoms on both sides of the 20-Ken Road of Shizunai in Hokkaido, Japan.
View cherry blossoms on both sides of the 20-Ken Road of Shizunai in Hokkaido, Japan.PHOTOS: HOTELS.COM, KAYAK


Cherry blossoms season is here and there is no better place to see the blooms than in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Travel search engine Kayak has identified some of the best spots to view the sakura and one of them is the 30ha Yoshino Park in Kagoshima, which is home to more than a dozen cherry cultivars. The forecast date when it is in full bloom is Friday.

Another spot is Senkoji Temple in Hiroshima, where one can expect the blooms to be at their fullest on April 2. The temple’s zen environment makes it the perfect place to surround oneself with weeping cherry trees, as well as yaezakura and yoshino cherry trees.

If one is swinging by Osaka, check out the Japan Mint, the head government office responsible for producing and circulating coins in the country. The cherry garden on its premises is open to the public for just seven days a year, specially for people to visit during the cherry blossom season.

With rare varieties of cherry blossoms in different shades such as white, light green and light pink, the garden is a must-visit for viewing sakura in the city. The flowers are expected to be in full bloom on April 3.

There is also the 20-Ken Road of Shizunai, a 7km road in Hokkaido that is lined with more than 3,000 cherry trees. The blooms are estimated to be at their fullest on May 6.

When: Throughout April and some parts of May



Songkran, the Thai New Year, is one of the most colourful and festive periods in the country.

For the locals, it is an occasion for family reunions and temple visits. For tourists, it is a time of friendly water fights and street parties.

Throwing water at one another symbolises the washing off of the past year’s misfortunes and the welcoming of the new year with a fresh start.

Bangkok is a great place to experience the festivities, but other places such as Phuket and Pattaya also have activities to mark the occasion.

In Phuket, for example, there will be the procession of the Phra Buddha Sihing image, Little Miss Songkran beauty pageant, a floral parade and more activities along Patong Beach. is having a promotion in which customers can save up to 60 per cent off hotel bookings if they book online or through its app before Saturday and travel before May 30.

Guests will enjoy an additional 8 per cent discount if they use the coupon code “bloom” on the website, and a further 10 per cent off if they use the code “colour” through the app. The coupon codes are valid for travel before Aug 1.

Terms and conditions apply.

When: April 13 to 15



Each spring, food lovers anticipate the harvest of Georgia’s official state vegetable, the Vidalia onion.

The occasion is celebrated with a four-day Vidalia Onion Festival, which is said to be among the best food festivals in the United States.

It features a children’s parade and a movie screening under the stars on April 26, which is a Thursday.

On Friday, there will be sidewalk sales in the downtown historic district during the day and fireworks at night.

The excitement builds up on Saturday, with a cannon-fire start to an “onion run”, an onion-eating contest, a carnival, an onion-recipe contest and public tasting, as well as a concert.

When: April 26 to 29



Every year, the Sydney Writers’ Festival attracts audiences of more than 100,000 during a week-long conversation about books and ideas. This year, contemporary multiarts centre Carriageworks will be the main festival hub.

There will also be events stretching across Sydney – from the City Recital Hall and Sydney Town Hall in the city centre to the suburbs and the Blue Mountains.

For example, on April 30, South Africa-born author Ceridwen Dovey will discuss her new novel, In The Garden Of The Fugitives, which is about obsession, guilt and the power of the past to possess the present.

On May 1, three writers – Egyptborn Andre Aciman, Korean-American Min Jin Lee and American Alexis Okeowo will take the stage to examine how power relates to politics, money, sex and identity.

They will also look at the ability of literature, storytelling and reportage to redress power imbalances in modern times.

When: April 30 to May 6



The 43rd International Jazz Festival Bern, attended by more than 30,000 people every year, is on until May 19.

This year’s event features international musicians such as Australian jazz trumpet player James Morrison, as well as American drummer Steve Gadd, who is one of the most influential and sought-after drummers in the music business.

Such world-class performers will appear at more than 200 individual concerts in Marians Jazzroom, which opened in December 1992 and has since gained a reputation as being one of the best jazz clubs in the world.

When: Until May 19


Benson Ang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 25, 2018, with the headline 'Agenda: Calendar of festivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe