The full moon rises on the first week of October this year. The Chinese will share moon cakes to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, while Koreans make songpyeon to share with relatives on Chuseok. Japanese families will gather around the yummy tsukimi dango to appreciate the moonlight. For many Asian cities, it’s one of the liveliest weeks for family life and the quietest for the offices. We are not here to tell you what to do this harvest festival, your relatives will make sure to remind you constantly. Here are some of the best events you can enjoy, away from the lovely but soul-draining family dramas.
Tokyo: Odaiba Fireworks 2017 & Halloween Beach Festival
When? October 21
Where? Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo
Since when is Halloween a big deal in Asian cities? Do you really care when you can enjoy a costume party in the street, eat all the pumpkins in every conceivable way, and watch 10,000 rockets lighting up the sky? Nah, neither do we. The fireworks will follow the rhythm of music from barges parked between Odaiba and the Rainbow Bridge. You can enjoy the food market (with an obvious pumpkin theme) and a costume parade even before sunset.
Taipei: Jazz Festival
When? September 9 to October 31
Where? Taipei city
Ah, a jazz festival in the city! Autumn breeze on the outdoor stage, jazz “cats” jamming with city noises, a weary office worker dropping by the venue on her way home, what’s not to like? The annual Taipei Jazz Festival has been rocking for 17 years and this year’s theme is “City of Swing.” Expect outdoor performances at parks, a concert by Grammy-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker, and all the fun (and/or serious) jazz workshops and seminars.
When? October 5 to 7
Where? Shanghai World Expo Exhibition and Convention Center
When San Diego ComicCon became bigger than life, you knew there would soon be a Chinese one. Not yet enjoying global fame like San Diego, the Shanghai ComicCon is here to stay with its 3rd-year confidence. Ranging from Marvel characters to Nintendo games to new comic artists, ComicCon brings glory to all the Chinese geeks who have waited for this day, honing their poses, sewing their costume, and memorizing movie lines. If you haven’t decided your character yet, just enjoy the three days of pop culture, celebrity meeting, and out of the ordinary fun.
When? October 20 to 22
Where? The World Trade Center Metro Manila & the Philippine International Trade Center Exhibit Hall
As the country’s premier design and lifestyle event, Manila FAME has worked towards promoting the Philippines as a reliable sourcing destination for home, fashion, holiday, architectural, and interior pieces. For its 66th edition, Manila FAME strips down to its roots, a show built upon the interplay of Philippine culture, design excellence, and export promotion. It’s a show to celebrate the brands, the crafts, the designers, and the materials of Philippine design. If you’re a buyer, here’s the place to find the genuine Phillippine design beyond the merely ‘exotic.’ If you’re just a casual visitor, don’t miss the GREAT Women Project 2 that highlights the works of women artisans across the country.
Singapore: Noise Invasion Festival
When? October 28
Where? Haw Par Villa, Singapore
24 years ago, William Gibson of Wired magazine called Singapore ‘Disneyland with the death penalty.’ This year, the Straits Times, the country’s highest-selling paper, laments the Orchard Road is ‘kind of boring.’ Is it because of the high cost of living? Or low freedom of the press? One thing is clear: Singapore is changing its image, backed by the government. Now we see glittering hope in the Noise Invasion Festival: ‘the unconventional and the strange, with a killer lineup of music, art, dance, and food that deviates from the usual arts festival format’ to ‘celebrate individuality and creativity.’ If it goes well, the cool kids of Singapore may end up sniffing at Disneyland.
Bangkok: Vegetarian Festival
When? October 20 to 28
Where? Chinatown, Bangkok
It’s not just about the food. Originally to celebrate the Nine Emperor Gods, following the Chinese Taoist tradition, thus the festivities and food stalls are concentrated in Chinatown. It’s also a festival to cleanse your body and soul, so followers are supposed to wear white clothing, abstain from physical vices (you know, like sex or alcohol), refrain from harming animals, and stick to the strict vegan diet. If you eat meat, try a different kind of culinary delight. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, the city is yours for nine days. Just keep in mind that this year’s festival may be more subdued than usual out of respect to the royal cremation scheduled on October 26.
Hong Kong: Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dances
When? October 3 to 6
Where? Tai Hang, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
In the 19th century, the people of Tai Hang village began performing a fire dragon dance to stop bad luck from afflicting their village. The village has been absorbed by the city of Hong Kong, but the dragon dance remains, as the third intangible cultural heritage of China. Amidst the roar of the drums and gongs, just short of 300 people carry a 67-metre blazing dragon through the streets dancing with the flame. The Tai Hang Fire Dragon Dance is traditionally held for three days and nights during the festival. To enable more visitors to experience this local tradition, the event will be extended for one more night this year, visiting Victoria Peak on October 4th.