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Torch Festival

Festivals do not only exist as an important representative or intangible relics of the culture and customs of a nation, but also as a common spirit which bred in the bone of the people, passed down from generation to generation.

Torch Festival or Fire Festival(火把节)

Torch Festival or Fire Festival(火把节) is widely celebrated among the people ofYi, Bai, Naxi, Hani, Lahu, Pumi and some other ethnic groups in southwest China. During the 2-or-3-day festival season, people enjoy a couple of exciting nights of fire, dancing in the fields of villages or in the streets of cities, lighting the sky with thousands of burning torches, followed by other enthusiastic activities like bull fighting, horse riding, wrestling, dancing and singing performances, which has earned the festival the reputation of “the Oriental Carnival”.

“The Oriental Carnival” always occurs in Lunar June, usually corresponding to August in the Gregorian calendar, but on different days around the 25th in different groups also with slightly different purposes and traditional activities of the celebration among which “Liangshan Yi Torch Festival” on 24th is the most solemn event.
Buring Night of Liangshan Yi Fire FestivalNight of Fire and Preformances

People of Bai and Naxi in the mountain areas connecting Lijiang and Heqing “play fires” under the “big fire trees” decorated with messy red flowers when the nights of torches come. As soon as the first star appears in the sky, little torches will be lighted up, with which in hands, people start to dance and sing around the “big fire trees”.

While Pumi People in Ninglang County sacrifice to the “Goddess of Fire”, the ancestor of Mosuo People, Anggumi, by dancing Guozhuang around the representative tree of her. Anggumi, in Pumi myths, stole fire from the heaven and sent it to the earth by burning herself as a torch, so the day when fire was sent to the earth was set up as a festival for her braveness and dedication.

Playing fires and singing for the seeds are the most attractive customs of the people living in Huangping, Heqing who celebrate the Fire Festival on June 24th--the day when the first seed was sowed according to the local legends. To memory the day and pray for a harvest, small kids and old people dance around the fields with torches in their hands while the young sow seeds in the fields which is a rare-seen and fantastic celebration mixed with agriculture activities.

From ancient to modern times, in rural villages and towns, cities, the annual festival of different ethnic groups is celebrated in the tune of Yueqin(月琴), flutes and kouXianqin(口弦琴). People dance and sing, praying for years of plenty and peace in a sea of fire. In the moonlight, around a blazing campfire, a jolly exotic carnival is always going on somewhere in the southeast of China someday around the 25th in June.


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