8 events in Asia you shouldn’t miss this February

Thinking of jetsetting this month? Don't miss these enticing events and festivals around the region

Fireworks during the Tet Nguyen Dan celebrations in Vietnam

Fireworks during the Tet Nguyen Dan celebrations in Vietnam

The Beach Canteen at Dubai Food Festival

The Beach Canteen at Dubai Food Festival

The crowd at St Jerome's Laneway Festival, Sydney (Photo: Maclay Heriot)

The crowd at St Jerome's Laneway Festival, Sydney (Photo: Maclay Heriot)

Bianco by NoFit State Circus

Bianco by NoFit State Circus

Il Divo

Il Divo

Chinese New Year celebrations

When: February 2 to 22
Where: Hong Kong
This February, Hong Kong will set the stage for Chinese New Year with much pomp and festivity. Take in the stunning 2016 International Chinese New Year Night Parade along Tsim Sha Tsui on February 8, marvel at the breathtaking fireworks display over Victoria Harbour on February 9, and enjoy a heart-thumping day at the racecourse – a Hong Kong tradition! A fifth of the world’s population may celebrate the Lunar New Year, but no one does it quite like Hong Kong. Find out more at discoverhongkong.com.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

When: February 7
Where: Sydney
Catch over 30 of the music world’s hottest live acts, including Grimes, The Internet, Thundercat, Big Scary, and Chvrches, just to name a few. There’ll be plenty of food and drink for festival-goers, too, with booths by Gelato Messina, Knafeh, LP’s Quality Meats, Salmon and Bear, Oysters Unplugged, Playa Takeria and more. For super-awesome souvenirs, Dear Pluto and Red Eye Records will be peddling vinyl from past and present Laneway artists. Visit sydney.lanewayfestival.com for more info.

Tet Nguyen Dan

When: February 8
Where: Vietnam
During Tet Nguyen Dan, which marks the start of the lunar new year, the country is extra-colorful as fruit trees and blossoms become a fixture outside houses. Locals buy clothes, start jobs, worship ancestors, give and receive money, pay debts, visit temples, do good deeds and avoid bad thoughts at this time to get a fresh start. On the eve of Tet, people make noise and watch fireworks as everyone in Vietnam becomes a year older – the coming of New Year is how they age, rather than through individual birthdays.

Make sure to check out Nguyen Hue Flower Street in Ho Chi Minh City, which attracts as many as one million visitors annually. Aside from feasting on Vietnamese staples, be sure to try banh chung – a boiled, sweet, sticky rice cake with beans and wrapped in leaves – as it is only available during Tet. Discover more at vietnamtourism.com.

Il Divo in Dubai

When: February 12
Where: Dubai
Get serenaded by the velvety baritones and tenors of this popular multinational opera quartet as they perform sultry tunes off their highly-anticipated new album, Amor & Pasion, alongside some of their greatest hits. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmasteruae.ae; meet-and-greet packages are also available.

Bianco

When: February 17 to 21
Where: Hong Kong
Be enthralled by Bianco, an edgy, contemporary circus extravaganza that has been wowing audiences and earning rave reviews all around the world. NoFit State Circus’s seventh large-scale production promises an evening of awe-inspiring acrobatics, set to an exhilarating soundtrack performed by a live band. The best part? Instead of taking place on stage, the theatrics will unfurl above and all around the standing audience for a truly immersive experience. Get your tickets from urbtix.hk.

Hadaka Matsuri

When: February 20
Where: Okayama, Japan
In a country known for the madcap and the offbeat, one of the most eccentric events of all is Hadaka Matsuri. It’s a festival where nearly-naked men wearing only their fundoshi (loincloth) fall all over each other in the quest to grab sacred sticks, willow strips or other amulets said to make the bearer incredibly lucky for a year. Though held during the cold season, the festival also sees water splashed on the over-excited participants.

As soon as midnight strikes, all the lights are turned off and priests throw the items from a window. As many as 9,000 men join the mad scramble for the lucky objects. There is a “junior” version too, prior to the main activity, where kids compete for rice cakes and other prizes.

Hadaka Matsuri festivals are held across the year in various areas of Japan, but the most famous is at the Saidaiji Temple in Okayama where it all started 500 years ago. The festivities will be held on February 20, and you get to Okayama from Osaka by train or bus. Learn more at jnto.go.jp.

Singapore Airshow 2016

When: February 20 and 21
Where: Singapore
Add the Singapore Airshow 2016 to your itinerary for its exciting demonstration of speed, power and technology. Asia’s largest aerospace exhibition is sure to draw huge crowds, so be there early to snag a prime spot for viewing the aerobatic displays, then check out the impressive exhibit of commercial and military planes right afterwards. Other exciting activities include meet-the-pilot sessions and photo-taking opportunities with the airshow’s adorable leonine mascots. For more info, visit singaporeairshow.com.

Dubai Food Festival

When: February 25 to March 12
Where: Dubai
Feast on a smorgasbord of gourmet eats and homegrown treats at this 17-day culinary celebration. First up, there’s Dubai Restaurant Week from February 25 to March 5, where thirty of the best restaurants in the city will offer set menus for only AED189. Then there’s also Beach Canteen at Kite Beach from February 25 to March 12, which will feature appearances from celebrity chefs, pop-ups by home-grown restaurant concepts, farmers’ markets, live music, kid-friendly activities and more. Read more about the full list of events at dubaifoodfestival.com.

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