With over 500 festivals held throughout the year, there's a good chance that something will be going on during your visit to Kyoto. For a listing of events for each month, check out the Kyoto Guide online.

A few of the highlights throughout the year include:

  • The Hirano Shrine Cherry Blossom Festival held in early April, is just one event that features viewing of Japan's famous cherry blossom trees. During the Hirano Shrine blossom-viewing, residents parade through the streets in traditional costume on their way to viewing the trees. There are also a number of other locations to check out the trees in blossom both in Kyoto and throughout the country, with varying dates of blossoming (usually late March through early April).
  • The Gion Festival, which lasts through the entire month of July, is one of the biggest festivals held in Kyoto. One must-see event is the Yamahoko-junko, or parade of floats, held on July 17.
  • The Fire Festival, held during an evening in mid-August, features giant Japanese characters lit by fire halfway up the mountainsides that surround Kyoto. Fires are lit in Gozan-Daimonji, Myoho, Funagata, Hidari-daimonji, and Torii-gata at the same time, lighting up the night, and making for a memorable sight to behold.
  • The Jidai Festival, held in late October, is a great way to learn about the history of Kyoto. This festival features processions to and from shrines located throughout the city. Begun in 1895 to celebrate the relocation of the capital city, the processions feature paraders in historical dress.