Best Annual Festivals & Events in Kyoto Best Annual Festivals & Events in Kyoto

Best Annual Festivals & Events in Kyoto


2019.10.29

NAVITIME TRAVEL EDITOR

Best Annual Festivals & Events in Kyoto

While spring and autumn are the two most popular seasons to visit Kyoto, there are a wide variety of seasonal events and festivals that allow tourists to embrace the beauty of the ancient capital throughout the year.
Here's a monthly guide to all of Kyoto's major events, so be sure to check them out if you want to brighten your itinerary.

  • 01

    January

    ー Sunrise viewing at the Kyoto Tower

    Kyoto Tower

    Kyoto Tower

    Seeing sunrise on New Year's Day is believed to bring luck for the entire year, which is why people flock to the observation deck of the tallest landmark in the city - the Kyoto Tower.
    It takes place from 6:30 am to 8:00 am but is on a first-come-first-served basis, so try to arrive there before it opens.
    Admission is 1,000 yen for middle-schoolers and above.

    Kyoto Tower
    place
    Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku Karasuma through seven under article le Higashishiokoji-cho 721-1
    phone
    0753613215
    opening-hour
    9:00-21:20(Last entry21:00)

    ー Special Winter Light-up Event at Kifune Shrine

    Kifune Shrine

    Kifune Shrine

    Kifune Shrine is dedicated to the god of matchmaking and is famed for its free, special winter light-up event on snowy Saturdays between late January and February.
    If the event is to be held, they’ll announce it at 3:00 pm on Kifune Shrine’s official social media accounts.
    Temporary shuttle bus services between Kibuneguchi Station and Kibune bus stop are available on event days.

    Kifune-jinja Shrine
    rating

    4.5

    685 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Kuramakibunechou 180
    phone
    0757412016
    opening-hour
    [Awarding place Hours of Ope…
  • 02

    February

    ー Setsubun Festival

    Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

    Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

    Setsubun (節分), a traditional event, held on February 3rd every year.
    People throw beans to drive away evil spirits on this day and many shrines and temples in Kyoto host admission-free Setsubun Festivals.

    The festival usually falls on either 2 or 3 days around February 3rd.
    They usually involve traditional dance or lots of stalls, as well as bean-throwing.
    Yoshida Shrine, Yasaka Shrine, and Kitano Tenmangu Shrine are all popular destinations in Kyoto.

    Yoshida Shrine

    Yoshida Shrine

    Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
    rating

    4.5

    30 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kamigyou-ku Bakurochou
    phone
    0754610005
    opening-hour
    6:30-17:00

    ー Aodani Bairin Plum Blossom Festival

    Aodani Bairin Plum Blossom Festival

    Aodani Bairin Plum Blossom Festival

    Late February to late March is the best season to enjoy the beautiful plum trees in Kyoto.
    Aodani Bairin Plum Blossom Festival (青谷梅林 梅まつり) in the gently rolling hills of Joyo City is known for its one million plum trees.

    This festival usually takes place between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, with visitors enjoying the view of pink petals and stalls selling plum-based foods.

    Aodani Bairin
    place
    Kyoto Jouyoushi Naka
  • 03

    March

    ー Higashiyama Hanatouro

    Hokanji (Yasaka Tower) (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Hokanji (Yasaka Tower) (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Creative Lighting Design Competition (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Creative Lighting Design Competition (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    In early to mid-March (March 6th to 15th, 2020), the ancient streets of the Higashiyama area are wrapped with beautiful lanterns to create an atmospheric nighttime scene.
    The illumination starts at 6:00 pm and ends at 9:30 pm daily.

    While walking along the illuminated streets, you can visit famous sites like the Yasaka Jinja, Kodaiji and Kiyomizu-dera, as well as beautiful Ikebana Promenade.

    Lanterns and Flower Lane(Neneno-michi Ave.)  (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Lanterns and Flower Lane(Neneno-michi Ave.) (C) Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Nene no Michi
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Shimokawarachou
    phone
    0755312288

    ー Cherry Blossom Viewing and Light-up Event

    Maruyama Park

    Maruyama Park

    Nijo Castle

    Nijo Castle

    The best time to see cherry blossom trees in Kyoto is from late March to early April when the city hosts numerous viewing events and night illumination festivals.
    Maruyama Park is an admission-free park that’s renowned for its weeping cherry tree that enchants visitors.
    Nijo Castle transforms into a real life kaleidoscope at night (6:00 pm - 7:30 pm), with colorful projection mapping and fascinating illuminations.
    Admission is 600 yen for adults.

    Maruyama Park
    rating

    4.0

    662 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Maruyamachou
    phone
    0755611350
    opening-hour
    Admission freedom
    Nijojo Castle
    rating

    4.5

    6955 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto City Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Nijyotoru Horikawa Western Nishi Nijo Castle Town 541
    phone
    0758410096
    opening-hour
    [Open Castle Hours] 8:45-16:…
  • 04

    April

    ー KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival

    KYOTOGRAPHIE(C) JR Kyoto Isetan

    KYOTOGRAPHIE(C) JR Kyoto Isetan

    One of the few international photography festivals in Japan, KYOTOGRAPHIE runs from mid-April to mid-May in Kyoto.
    Exhibition venues are scattered across the city, displaying photographs of various cultures and backgrounds.
    Admission fees vary depending on the venue but visitors can also purchase an inclusive festival pass or one-day pass to visit multiple sites.
    KG+, an open-entry art festival for emerging talents, is also held during this festival period.

    KG+

    KG+

    Kyoto Bunka Museum Annex
    place
    Kyoto Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku Higashikatacho
    phone
    0752220888

    ー Green Maple Leaves and Night Illumination Events

    Rurikoin Temple

    Rurikoin Temple

    Ikkyuji Temple

    Ikkyuji Temple

    While Kyoto's autumn colors are undoubtedly gorgeous, the new leaves that sprout between late-April and June are also definitely worth your time.

    Rurikoin Temple is a renowned spot, featuring a breathtaking reflection of its green garden on a shiny, black table.
    Ikkyuji Temple in Kyotanabe city shouldn’t be missed either, with a beautiful tunnel of young maple leaves and moss grounds decorating its cobblestone approach.

    Night Light-up

    Night Light-up

    Shuon-an, Ikkyuji Temple
    rating

    4.0

    1 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutanabeshi Takigisatonouchi 102
    phone
    0774620193
    opening-hour
    [Worship times] 9:00-17:00[T…
    Komyoji Rurikoin Temple
    rating

    4.0

    226 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku Kamitakanohigashiyama 55
    phone
    0757814001
  • 05

    May

    ー Aoi Festival

    Aoi Festival

    Aoi Festival

    Aoi Festival is one of Kyoto's three great festivals, along with the Gion and Jidai Festivals.
    It takes place every year on May 15 to demonstrate the aristocratic culture of the Heian period with a large procession.
    Backed by beautifully decorated hollyhock leaves, more than 500 participants wearing traditional costumes parade from The Kyoto Imperial Palace at 10:30am before arriving at Kamigamo Shrine around 3:30 pm.
    You can reserve a paid seat in advance or find spots on the roadside for free.

    ー Kawadoko River Terrace

    Kawadoko River Terrace

    Kawadoko River Terrace

    Many restaurants along the Takao (other areas such as Kibune and Kamo River) set up temporary wooden terraces every year between May and mid-September, providing peaceful dining spots called Kawadoko/Noryoyuka (川床/納涼床).

    Kyoto's summer can be insanely hot but traditional Japanese restaurants (such as Beniya and Momiji-ya) in remote mountainous areas offer a seasonal dining experience combined with refreshing mountain air and relaxing river sounds.

    貴船べにや
    place
    京都府京都市左京区鞍馬貴船町17
    phone
    075-741-2041
    no image
    Momijiya Bekkan Kawa No Iori Ryokan
    rating

    4.5

    97 Reviews
    place
    32 Umegahata Mikyosaka-cho, Ukyo-ku Kyoto
    phone
    0758711005

    2021/03/18Check-in (2 persons per room)※Nightly fee per person Update date:2021/03/04

  • 06

    June

    ー Ajisai Festivals

    Yokokuji Temple

    Yokokuji Temple

    Mimurotoji Temple

    Mimurotoji Temple

    June and July are usually rainy in Kyoto but you can still enjoy the water-loving, colorful hydrangeas.
    Yokokuji Temple attracts tourists with its water-filled basins, which are decorated with eye-catching arrangement of hydrangeas.
    Mimurotoji Temple (also known as the “Hydrangea Temple”) boasts a collection of one million hydrangeas and offers weekend-only night illumination events (7:00 pm - 9:00 pm), as well as a daytime viewing festival.

    Mimurotoji Temple

    Mimurotoji Temple

    Mimurotoji Temple
    rating

    4.0

    263 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Ujishi Todou Shigatani 21
    phone
    0774212067
    opening-hour
    [4/1-10/31]8:00-16:30(Last e…
    柳谷観音楊谷寺
    rating

    4.5

    37 Reviews
    place
    京都府長岡京市浄土谷堂ノ谷2
    phone
    0759560017
  • 07

    July

    ー Gion Festival

    Gion Festival

    Gion Festival

    Gion Festival is an annual festival at Yasaka Shrine that takes place over the entire month of July.
    While various religious ceremonies and events are organized, the highlight is definitely the large procession known as Yamahoko Junko (山鉾巡行).
    It features 25-meter tall floats decorated with colorful Nishijin textiles.
    The procession routes will be closed to traffic and filled with food and drink stalls instead. The dates of Yamahoko Junko vary by year, so be sure to check the schedule in advance.

    Yasaka-jinja Shrine (Gion Shrine)
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Gionmachikitagawa 625
    phone
    0755616155
    opening-hour
    Free worship

    ー Yoru no Suizokukan (The Night Aquarium)

    Yoru no Suizokukan

    Yoru no Suizokukan

    From July to December, the Kyoto Aquarium occasionally stays open at night (5:00 pm - 8:00 pm), inviting visitors to see the nocturnal lives of its aquatic animals.
    The aquarium is illuminated by mystical lights and music plays as visitors observe the whimsical activities of nocturnal creatures like salamanders, as well as cuddly penguins sleeping in groups.
    Visitors can explore the facility with hand-sized lanterns, making it a particularly exciting adventure for children.

    Kyoto Aquarium
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Shimogyou-ku Kankijichou 35-1 (in Umekoji Park)
    phone
    0753543130
    opening-hour
    10:00-18:00 (Depending on th…

    ー Wind Chime Festival

    Shoujiin Temple

    Shoujiin Temple

    Shoujiin Temple is well-known to Instagrammers for its eye-catching ceiling painted with colorful flowers and the heart-shaped window of its guest hall.
    The temple gets even more vibrant between July and mid-September when the soothing sound of thousands of wind chimes resonate through the temple grounds.

    The temple opens from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and there are night illumination events on weekends (6:00 pm-8:00 pm).
    The admission is 700 yen during the festival (500 yen for regular seasons).

    Heart-shaped Window

    Heart-shaped Window

    Shojuin Temple
    place
    Kyoto Tsuzuki-gun Ujitawaracho Okuyamada Kawakami 149
    phone
    0774883601

    ー Mitarashi Festival

    Mitarashi Festival

    Mitarashi Festival

    From mid to late July, worshippers gather at Kyoto's cultural heritage site, Simogamo Shrine, to pray for good health throughout the year.
    Admission is 300 yen, allowing you to wade into the knee-deep pond with a candle and place it at the sub-shrine.

    Once you come out of the pond, you dry your legs (bring your own towel) and drink sacred water. The festival is held from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.

    Kawai-jinja Shrine
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Shimogamoizumigawachou
    phone
    0757810010
    opening-hour
    6:30-17:30
  • 08

    August

    ー Kyo no Tanabata Festival

    Kyo no Tanabata Festival

    Kyo no Tanabata Festival

    Tanabata generally falls on July 7 when two heavenly lovers are allowed to reunite over the starry sky.
    In Kyoto, the Kyo no Tanabata Festival (京の七夕) takes place around mid August across the city, based on the lunar calendar.

    Sites like Nijo Castle and the Kamo River are mystically decorated with illuminations and paper lanterns at night, inviting those who honor the tradition of "making a wish once a year."

    Nijojo Castle
    rating

    4.5

    6955 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto City Kyoto City Nakagyo-ku Nijyotoru Horikawa Western Nishi Nijo Castle Town 541
    phone
    0758410096
    opening-hour
    [Open Castle Hours] 8:45-16:…

    ー Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

    Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

    Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

    Every year on August 16, six giant bonfires in the shape of Chinese characters make appearances on the mountainsides of Kyoto city, sending dead ancestors back to the spirit world.

    Kyoto Gozan Okuribi (京都五山送り火) is part of the Obon holiday when Japanese Buddhists commemorate the spirits of their ancestors.
    If you plan to capture the most popular character 大(big), you should head to the Yoshidayama Green Space around 8:00 pm.

    Daimonjigosanokuribi
    place
    Kyoto Pref. Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Tanakashimoyanagichou
    phone
    0753436655

    ー Digitized Forest at the World Heritage Site of Shimogamo Shrine Art by teamLab - TOKIO INKARAMI

    Digitized Forest

    Digitized Forest

    Presented by the collaborative art group, teamLab, Shimogamo Shrine is transformed into a colorful canvas of immersive art every year from around mid-August to early September.
    The event runs from 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm and admission is 1,300 yen on weekdays, 1,500 yen on weekends, and primary school children or younger are free.

    Kawai-jinja Shrine
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Shimogamoizumigawachou
    phone
    0757810010
    opening-hour
    6:30-17:30

    ー Fireworks Festivals

    Kameoka Peace Festival and Hozugawa Citizens' Fireworks Show

    Kameoka Peace Festival and Hozugawa Citizens' Fireworks Show

    Miyazu Toro Nagashi and Fireworks Display

    Miyazu Toro Nagashi and Fireworks Display

    Summer in Kyoto is one of the most eventful seasons of the year.
    But you definitely can’t miss the fireworks festivals when pyrotechnicians proudly show off their spectacular skills over the night sky.

    Kameoka Peace Festival and Hozugawa Citizens' Fireworks Show boasts 8,000 artistic fireworks as part of their display while the Miyazu Toro Nagashi and Fireworks Display offers a beautiful combination of ascending fireworks and softly-lit lanterns on Miyazu Bay.
    Both of the festivals take place around mid-August.

    Miyazu Toro Nagashi and Fireworks Display

    Miyazu Toro Nagashi and Fireworks Display

    Hotsu Hashi
    place
    Kyoto Kameoka-shi Hozucho
  • 09

    September

    ー Japan Umeshu Festa

    Japan Umeshu Festa

    Japan Umeshu Festa

    If you want to drink Japanese alcohol other than sake, you should try umeshu (plum wine). The Japan Umeshu Festa in Kyoto takes place over a four-day period in mid-September every year at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

    You can sample or even purchase more than 140 brands of umeshu from all over Japan. Pre-sale tickets are available for 1,300 yen at 7-Eleven convenience stores and same-day tickets are available for 1,500 yen.

    Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
    rating

    4.5

    30 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Kamigyou-ku Bakurochou
    phone
    0754610005
    opening-hour
    6:30-17:00
  • 10

    October

    ー Jidai Festival

    Jidai Festival

    Jidai Festival

    Jidai Festival is one of Kyoto's three major festivals. It celebrates the long-established culture and history of Kyoto with a two-kilometer-long procession displaying historical costumes and characters from the ancient Heian to Meiji periods.

    The first edition of this festival dates back more than 100 years and was held to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of Kyoto’s founding.
    It takes place on October 26 this year (and October 22 next year).

    Jidaimaturi
    place
    Kyoto Pref. Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Okazakinishitennouchou
    phone
    0757520227

    ー Kurama Fire Festival

    Kurama Fire Festival

    Kurama Fire Festival

    In the remote mountain village of Kurama, the Fire Festival sees torch bearers loudly chant and walk past houses lit by bonfires.
    Later in the evening, the procession is joined by mikoshi float bearers and heads to Yuki Shrine on the slopes of Mount Kurama.

    Being one of the most eccentric, spectacular festivals in Japan, it tends to get very crowded and sometimes sparks can fly, so visitors are advised to wear non-flammable clothing.
    The event kicks off at 6:00 pm.

    Ambanohimaturi
    place
    Kyoto Pref. Kyoutoshi Sakyou-ku Kuramahonchou 1073
    phone
    0757411670
  • 11

    November

    ー Autumn Foliage and Night Illumination Events

    Autumn Foliage and Night Illumination Events

    Autumn Foliage and Night Illumination Events

    Between November and early December, changing leaves beautifully decorate the mountains, historical sites and other sightseeing spots in Kyoto.
    Many places, including the Kiyomizu Temple and Kodaiji Temple, hold seasonal night illumination events, making this captivating season even more special.
    Autumn in Kyoto is on many tourists' radar, so travel around the city without using a bus, taxi or car and plan your trip using trains.

    Read more:
    The best autumn color spots in Kyoto for 2019

    Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    rating

    4.5

    31 Reviews
    place
    Kyoto Kyoutoshi Higashiyama-ku Kiyomizu 1-294
    phone
    0755511234
    opening-hour
    [Gates open]6:00[Gates shut]…
  • 12

    December

    ー Arashiyama Hanatouro

    Illuminated Togetsukyo Bridge (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Illuminated Togetsukyo Bridge (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Illuminated Arashiyama (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Illuminated Arashiyama (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Every year around mid-December (December 13th to 22th, 2019), glowing lanterns and elegant ikebana flower arrangements envelop the Saga and Arashiyama area from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

    There are two popular spots you shouldn’t miss: the Togetsukyo Bridge features a tranquil waterfront with a dramatic backdrop of radiant mountain leaves while the well-lit Bamboo Forest walkways offer a dreamy, mystical feel.

    Bamboo Forest (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Bamboo Forest (C)Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

    Togetsukyo Bridge
    place
    Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture Ukyo-ku Arashiyama
    opening-hour
    Freedom of traffic

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