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Celebrate fall at these jubilant cultural festivals throughout Asia

Some of the best festivals in the world can be found as fall rolls around. Discover these wonderful celebrations taking place in cities across Asia. | By Paul Oswell | August 31, 2023

Traveling for a special event or celebration is a great way to add more excitement to any getaway. With fall approaching, some of the best cultural festivals in the world will soon welcome revelers to enjoy specialty foods, historic traditions and cheerful decor. Several cities across Asia have particularly unique festivals during the fall months. Here are our suggestions for enjoying each one in these world-class destinations:

  • Shanghai: Savor delicious delicacies and see the city light up as families unite and celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival

  • Bangkok: Watch small rafts adorned with candles carry the hopes for the new year down the river during Loy Krathong celebrations

  • Pune: Soak in endless enjoyment during Diwali, including fireworks, music and incredible food in this vibrant Indian city

Chinese moon cakes and tea
Carefully crafted and traditionally offered as gifts, mooncakes are a Mid-Autumn Festival delicacy.


The fall harvest is celebrated all over the world as people give thanks for the produce and supplies that will see them through the winter months. China is no exception, and in late September, the country celebrates the Mid-Autumn Festival. Also known as the Moon Festival or the Mooncake Festival, it’s China’s second most important holiday after Lunar New Year. Ceremonies are held to encourage the harvest-giving light to return in the coming year.

During the Mid-Autumn Festival, families and friends also gather for celebratory dinners and make and eat mooncakes. This traditional baked delicacy comprises both sweet and savory fillings like white lotus paste, red bean paste or salted egg yolks. During the celebrations, revelers also light paper lanterns as an homage to the moon.

In Shanghai, head to the Zhujiajiao neighborhood, where the old-style houses are lit up by lanterns and families unite in the quaint tea shops. Another popular place to celebrate is the Bund, a historic waterfront promenade with colonial architecture and views of the Huangpu River.

Stay at Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund to find yourself at the heart of the Mid-Autumn festivities. The hotel will be offering traditional delicacies in the form of unique Luxury Mooncake gift boxes featuring three flavors (white lotus with seed paste and yolk, egg custard with yolk and red bean paste with dried citrus peel) and Extravagant Mooncake gift boxes featuring egg lava custard, Manuka honey egg custard and pomelo pineapple custard mooncakes.

Waldorf Astoria Shanghai’s signature restaurants, such as Wai King Kok and Ling Long, serve gourmet takes on traditional Chinese cuisine, while the Salon de Ville and Peacock Alley are spaces to sip tea and take in the atmosphere. After a long day of sightseeing and celebrations, a reviving spa treatment at Waldorf Astoria Spa is the perfect end to the day.

asian woman with traditional dress holding Krathong Kratong
Thousands of elaborately decorated baskets with candles float down rivers as part of the Thai festival of lights, Loy Krathong.


Loy Krathong is Thailand’s festival of lights and one of its most popular annual jubilees. The celebration takes place across Thailand in late November, marking the end of the rainy season. It’s also a time to honor the water goddess, Mae Khongkha, by floating lotus-shaped baskets in the lakes, rivers and canals. These ornate baskets, known as krathongs, are decorated with candles, incense and flowers.

In Bangkok, locals head to popular festival spots such as Phra Athit Pier or the lake in Lumpini Park, where restaurants and food stands serve traditional dishes like Thai beef salad, chicken satay, durian sticky rice and tapioca pudding. Some of the most exquisite festival shows can be found at Asiatique The Riverfront, an open-air mall with views of Chao Phraya River where you can enjoy traditional Thai music and dance performances, illuminated float processions and a display of fireworks.

A short walk from Lumpini Park or a quick ride from Asiatique The Riverfront, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok is ideally located for joining in the celebrations. Savor gourmet takes on festival food from on-site restaurants such as Bull & Bear and Front Room. You can also take a break from the festivities with a cocktail or Thai tea amid the elegance of Peacock Alley or The Brasserie. Tired sightseers will love the hotel’s outdoor pool with chic, floating cabanas to fully relax in.

Hands holding flame for Diwali celebration
A time to celebrate light over darkness, Diwali is an illuminating cultural festival to experience.


Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is one of India’s most important major holidays, celebrated widely across the country, but also among Hindu communities around the world. Taking place in October or November each year, the festivities include the illumination of lights and candles, as well as firecrackers, and diya (clay lamps) to symbolize good conquering evil and the triumph of inner light over darkness.

Diwali is a time for gathering with loved ones, partaking in traditions, and sharing a delicious meal. Some of the foods eaten include karanji (a fried dumpling), samosas (fried pastries with savory fillings), and pakoras (a patty made of fried vegetables). Sweets are also an essential part of Diwali, including laddoos (a round sweet made of flour, butter and sugar) and gulab jamun (a deep-fried confection).

Diwali is celebrated differently in each region of India, but Pune is one of the country’s most dynamic cities, where ancient traditions are celebrated in a thriving modern center. Here, the palaces and temples are decorated for Diwali, including famous sights such as Shaniwar Wada Palace, Aga Khan Palace and Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati Temple. The city hosts special concerts, while families gather to make small, decorative mud forts, depicting aspects of Pune’s history.

If you find yourself in Pune during Diwali, book your stay at Conrad Pune. The hotel enjoys a prime location, just a short drive from the palaces and temples where some of the larger celebrations take place. You can look out over a city bathed in light from Al Di La rooftop restaurant or enjoy Diwali-themed specialties at Coriander Kitchen and Zeera. After all of the music, dancing and food, the hotel’s lavish spa and swimming pools provide an oasis of relaxation.

Seeking out new experiences through cultural festivals is an inspiring way to travel, and the memories of participating in colorful, exciting celebrations will last a lifetime. Open your mind to the diversity of the world’s cultures, and you’ll return refreshed, with a newfound love of life in all its variations.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

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