Hadaka Matsuri at Saidai-Ji Temple, Okayama
Feb 18. Japan. Free admission. http://tiny.cc/fcxyx
Hadaka means naked, so you know what to expect from this festival. Nearly 10,000 Japanese men roam the streets in their traditional fundoshi underwear in search of the one fully naked man hidden among them. The one to find and touch the naked man will have good luck throughout the year. After a winner is declared, the mass moves to the Saidai-Ji Temple, where monks give blessings for good luck at midnight.
Jeju Jeongwol Daeboreum Fire Festival
Feb 17-19. South Korea. Free admission. www.buriburi.go.kr
Not just a favorite resort island for Koreans, Jeju is a great place to enjoy age-old folk traditions. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people join in a fire ceremony, praying for good health and good harvest in the coming spring. There are a number of events you can participate in throughout the festival, the highlight of which is the setting fire to old grass on the hill. Everyone does this together, to banish harmful insects and bad luck, and to prepare the land for cultivation.
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
Feb 19-Mar 6. Australia. Free admission.
When the Asia Pacific gay headquarters organizes a festival, you can rest assured that it won’t be small. The Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras is the region’s largest and most famous LBGT festival. The 11th edition of this two-week long event is packed with highlights like parties on the beach and at poolsides, arts events, stage shows, a film festival organized by Queerscreen, a sports festival and, on Mar 5, a grand parade involving thousands of LGBT and non-LGBT folk dressed up in some outrageous costumes.
39th Hong Kong Arts Festival
Feb 17-Mar 27. HK$60-HK$1,380
Thirty-nine days, 15 venues and more than 200 music, dance and theater performances make the 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival larger than ever before. Headliners include Tristan und Isolde performed by Germany’s Leipzig Opera, Britain’s Halle Orchestra and The Golden Lotus by the Beijing Dance Theatre.
Grape Harvest Festival
Feb 3-Mar 31. Thailand. 1,000 THB-4,800 THB (approx). www.thaiwineassociation.com
Picture yourself strolling through sunny vineyards with your sweetheart, lending a hand to the harvesters, topping things off with a glass—or a bottle—of wine and a good meal. Like what you see? Well it won’t take a trip to Bordeaux to make that happen. Thai wine producers in the Khao Yai region, a two to three-hour drive from Bangkok, have joined forces, offering month-long festivities to mark the harvest season. The grape picking is already underway, hitting PB Valley tomorrow (Feb 12) and then Village Farm (Feb 26), which will also host the Winter Music 2011 event on Mar 5. Or head south to the beach, also a couple of hours’ drive from Bangkok. There, Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, home of Monsoon Valley, has grape picking going on from Feb 18-Mar 31, and a special wine harvest dinner on Mar 5.
Cricket World Cup
Feb 19-Apr 2. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka. INR 240-INR 7,500. www.cricketworldcup2011.co.in
The thwack of leather on willow can only mean one thing: Cricket. Held every four years, it doesn’t get any bigger than this, especially since the tournament is being held in cricket’s spiritual home, where fanatical crowds are as much of a spectacle as what takes place out on the crease. Fourteen teams will compete in a series of one-day matches over two months and across three countries.
Japan Fashion Week
Mar 18-25. Tokyo. ¥1,000-¥2,000 (approx).
For its 12th year, the fashion week of Asia’s hippest dressers features creations by 30 Japanese fashion entrepreneurs. Highlights include araisara, fur fur, Theatre Products, Yuki Torii and Somarta, famous for the extravagant bodysuits they created for Lady Gaga. And Japanese fashion is not all harajuku, so don’t expect every show to be full of avant-garde designs and manga. Pre-registration is required.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens
Mar 25-27. HK$1,250 for a three-day pass.
No matter who you’re supporting—All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies, Lions, or Dragons—this is one of the world’s premier rugby events and a great warm up to the World Cup in New Zealand in Sep. Get your crazy costumes ready now.
Mar 12-Apr 3. Beijing, Shanghai. Tickets: Free-RMB180.
China’s best arts and music festival returns with a cavalcade of independent film screenings, underground exhibitions and appearances from the likes of The Whitest Boy Alive.
Hong Kong International Film Festival
Mar 20-Apr 5. HK$40-HK$4,200 (approx). www.hkiff.org.hk
One of Asia’s oldest film festivals is fighting back against the influx of Korean films with an array of flicks, from indie films to multi-million dollar productions. While details have yet to be confirmed, we’re expecting the world premiere of Quattro Hong Kong 2, an omnibus project featuring short films by award-winning directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Brillante Mendoza, Ho Yuhang and Stanley Kwan.
Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix
Apr 8-10. Kuala Lumpur. RM500-RM1,600. www.malaysiangp.com.my
Started in 1999, the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit is Southeast Asia’s first F1 racing event. Book your seats early to catch world-famous racers from world-famous teams—including Ferrari, Renault, and Mercedes—race round a 5.543km track.
Apr 13-15. Thailand. Free admission. www.songkran.net
Songkran, the week-long water war that rings in the Thai New Year, is definitely one of the things to do before you die. In Bangkok, the action is concentrated around Khaosan (more backpackers) and Silom (more locals) but Chiang Mai is where the insanity is at its peak, particularly along the Northern capital’s main canal. If you’ve seen it all, try Khon Kaen’s Khao Niaw road for a change. If you just can’t get enough, the action tends to travel east of Bangkok after Apr 15, towards Bang Saen and Pattaya. Finally—Muscle Marys take note—the gay dance party, gCircuit Songkran 5 is back, Apr 15-17. More info at www.gcircuit.com.
Taipei Flora Expo
Through Apr 25. Taiwan. One-day NT$150-300, three-day NT$600, unlimited entry NT$2,500. www.2010taipeiexpo.tw
A chance to walk through 25 million flowers and plants of every color, covering an area of more than 90 hectares in the city center. Highlights include the diagram garden from The Netherlands, a zen garden from Japan and a Buddhist garden from Thailand, as well as eco-gardens and cultural events. ■