Hot air balloon festival back in Myanmar after 2-year hiatus

Xinhua, November 9, 2022

People release small hot air balloons during the Tazaungdaing festival in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua)

Hot air balloons have returned to the sky over Pyin Oo Lwin, a scenic hill town in central Myanmar after a two-year hiatus.

On Monday night the Pyin Oo Lwin Tazaungdaing hot air balloon festival was in full swing. The five-day event this year started on last Friday, featuring more than 70 hot air balloons, along with traditional dancing and musical performances and sports competition.

The annual event to celebrate the traditional Tazaungdaing lighting festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event entered its final day on Tuesday."This year, we had only about 40 days to prepare for the hot air balloons competition," Kyaw Htay Ko, secretary of the Pyin Oo Lwin Tazaungdaing Hot Air Balloons Competition organizing committee, told Xinhua.

People release hot air balloons in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua)

Organizers and hot air balloon manufacturers used to prepare for the annual gala about six months in advance, according to the organizing committee.

"However, the number of balloons competing in this year's event is not much less than previous years' competitions," Kyaw Htay Ko said.

The hot air balloon teams competing in the event will be judged by aesthetics, teamwork, the height reached and the time spent in the air, he said.

The festival was launched in 2005."It is helping our city boost tourism and promote regional development and economy," he said.

Ko Maung Than, together with his little daughter, joined the competition at the Maha Ant Htoo Kan Thar hot air balloons venue on the chilly Sunday night.

"When the hot air balloon season arrives, I can't help coming here," the 43-year-old man said after releasing his team's huge balloon featuring an array of Buddha image artworks.

"We can't buy sufficient diesel oil to power the hot air balloons this year. So, we use the diesel mixed with turpentine oil," Ko Maung Than said.

People attach small lanterns to a hot air balloon during the Tazaungdaing festival in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua)

Kyi Kyi, 20, with her friends, wearing traditional costumes, performed traditional dances at the fiesta.

"I'm happy participating in the traditional celebrations," she said.

The festival's previous editions have drawn tens of thousands of local and foreign visitors, Ko Thu, a 35-year-old local resident, said.

"However, this year's event has seen not as much crowds as in previous years' celebrations," he said, citing reasons including security and health concerns.

According to the festival's organizing committee, security has improved this year for the safety of visitors.

There are three kinds of hot air balloons flying during the festival, which are daytime balloons shaped like animals including elephants, birds, and the polar bear, nighttime balloons decorated with small lanterns, and nighttime balloons loaded with fireworks.

People prepare small lanterns to attach to a hot air balloon during the Tazaungdaing festival in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, Nov. 6, 2022. (Photo by Myo Kyaw Soe/Xinhua)


Myanmar celebrates its Tazaungdaing festival on the full moon day of Tazaungmone to mark the end of the rainy season as well as the end of the Kathina season of Buddhist monks.

The full moon day of Tazaungmone, the eighth month of the Myanmar calendar, fell this year on Monday in the Southeast Asian country.

On the full moon day, Buddhist devotees and pilgrims thronged the pagodas across the country. A well-known traditional robe-weaving contest, known as the Matho Thingan competition, was also held at famous pagodas.

The contestants wove beautiful decorative robes for Buddha statues on the eve of the full moon day, and the teams producing the most gorgeous robes were announced winners.

The woven robes were offered to Buddha statues at the pagodas in early hours of the full moon day.

As part of the celebrations, people also offered alms, candle lights, joss sticks, flowers and fruits as homage to the pagodas.

As the Tazaungdaing festival is known as the festival of lights, people across the country also light candles, oil lamps, lanterns and colourful decorative light-bulbs in their home at night.