30 minutes away by train from Tokyo is the second largest city of Japan called Yokohama. It used to be a tiny fishing village and in 1859 was first to open its ports to foreign trade. The town quickly grew into one of the major cities of Japan and became Kanagawa Prefecture’s capital. Today, aside from drawing in a lot of tourists, it is also a favorite destination of ex-pats for its wealth in sightseeing spots. Yokohama owns one of the largest Chinatowns in the world. Yamate district contains well-preserved former Western residences. Bayside Marina, the biggest in Japan, can host 1,500 yachts and boats. This culture-rich city is not lacking in festivals. Check out our list of the top festivals in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan of which some you might catch in some of its parks, museums, or shopping malls. Catch them on your next visit.
1. The Yokohama Parade
The Yokohama Parade marks the opening of the annual Port Festival. There are two processions going on during this parade. A small scale parade where children participate starts from Yamashita Park passing through Red Brick Warehouse and ends at Bankokubashi Crossing. At the same time, the bigger parade with adult participants commences at Yamashita Park, crosses Red Brick Warehouse, Bashamichi, and ends at Isezakicho. Spectators should expect to see lots of colorful quirky costumes, marching bands, lots of music and dancing, and jaw-dropping ornately decorated floats.
The Yokohama Parade
Address: Starts at Yamashita Park
Website: The Yokohama Parade (May)
Takes place: May
2. Chinese New Year in Yokohama China Town
The Chinese New Year (also called the Chinese Lunar Year or Chinese Spring Festival) is the longest and grandest festival in Yokohama. The festivities last for around seven days to two weeks and ends on the eve of the Lunar New Year. The date of the Chinese New Year varies as it may occur sometime between January or February. During this time, there are lots of fireworks being lit, big red lantern decorating the streets, homes, and buildings, massive parades and banquets being held, and a lot of loud Lion dances happening in the streets. These exuberant celebrations happen around the world on Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year in Yokohama China Town
Address: Yokohama Chinatown
Takes place: January or February
3. Yokohama Sparkling Twilight
For two days, around the middle of July, Yokohama comes to life with over 3,000 fireworks, lots of live music, and parades with a global motif. On both days starting from 11:30am, popular restaurants and bars open early by setting up stalls to get a head start. During the afternoon, there are shows and demonstrations from the city’s Maritime Safety Agency and Fire Department which includes a scripted rescue performance. Portable shrines called Mikoshi are on display in every district. At the shores of Yamashi Park, you’ll see ships on parade. At night, the ships are lighted and at 7:30pm fireworks light the sky. Enjoy food and drinks all day long for the entire weekend.
Yokohama Sparkling Twilight
Address: Yamashita Park
Website: Yokohama Sparkling Twilight
Takes place: Middle of July
4. Yokohama Film Festival
One of the most awaited festivals happening during February is the Yokohama Film Festival. It was on February 3, 1980 that the very first festival happened and it was attended by a few film critics and fans. During the festival, tourists and locals alike have the opportunity to watch a variety of films being shown in Kannai Hall. Every year, 10 films will be selected as the best and a variety of awards for different categories will be given to the cast members and personnel.
Yokohama Film Festival
Address: Yokohama, Japan
Website: Yokohama Film Festival
Takes place: February
5. Yokohama Kaikosai Festival
Every month of June, Yokohama celebrates the Kaikosai Festival or the Yokohama Port Festival in memory of the opening of its ports on June 2, 1859 to foreign countries like France, Britain, Russia, Holland, and America. The whole day celebration happens on land and on the water. There is a center stage set up with musical performances and concerts like the “Dream of Harmony”. There are also other smaller events happening at different locations like dance contests and quiz competitions. Water-borne activities like sailing and kayaking occur in the harbor. At night, the sky is lit by 6,000 fireworks accompanied by light and sound harmony which is the perfect way to end the celebration.
Yokohama Kaikosai Festival
Address: Rinko Park, South Exit Plaza 1-1 Minatomirai, Nishi-ku Yokohama, Kanagawa 220-0012 Japan
Website: Yokohama Kaikosai Festival
Takes place: June
6. Yokohama Jazz Promenade
Every year sometime in October, around 50 different venues all over Yokohama become the center stage of a gigantic jazz festival. The tradition of having the Yokohama Jazz Promenade started in 1993. Over 2,000 performers, both amateur and professional musicians of Japan and from other countries, participate in this huge event where you will experience listening to jazz music on the streets, in live houses, and in clubs. If you want to listen to jazz music with style, watch the musicians that play in the Yokohama Minatomirai Hall or in the Minatomirai area. Buy the ticket worth 1000 JPY (9 USD) so you can see all of the performances.
Yokohama Jazz Promenade
Address: 50 different venues all over Yokohama
Website: Yokohama Jazz Promenade
Takes place: October
Price: 1000 JPY (9 USD)
7. Yokohama Green Room Festival
The Greenroom Festival is the largest outdoor party in Yokohama that happens every month of May. It occurs at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse with a beach and surf motif. The theme of the gigantic party is to “Save the Beach, Save the Ocean” with emphasis on the protection of Japan’s usable domestic beaches which are now shrinking in number. The festival is a variety of events from live music performances of Japan’s top bands, outdoor yoga classes, video screenings, art gallery exhibitions, and an abundance of food and beverages.
Yokohama Green Room Festival
Address: Ward, Shinko, 231-0001 Yokohama, Japan
Website: Yokohama Green Room Festival
Takes Place: May
8. Yokohama Oktoberfest
For a few weeks in October, Oktoberfest is celebrated in Yokohama where Japan’s beer industry was established. Every year, more than 100 kinds of local and imported beer–that includes limited-edition beers exclusively brewed for this occasion–are offered to the locals and tourists. Everyone can have a taste of the delicious beverages paired with traditional German Food. Enjoy the live musical performances of German bands while you drink and dine through the festival.
Address: Minato Mirai 21 / Sakuragi-cho
Website: Yokohama Oktoberfest
Takes Place: October
Price: 3 USD (food and drink not included) / free for junior high students and below
9. Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori
Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori festival or the Minatomirai Dai Bon Dance is held for two days in August yearly. It is a summer festival held in the Rinko Park where a stage is set so the audience can enjoy watching shows with a view of the Yokohama Port while enjoying the sea breeze. The Bon Dance Festival is exclusive to Minatomirai and involves colorful costumes, a lot of music, taico drums, live dance performances, and lots of festive food stalls. The first 1,000 visitors to arrive will receive specially made fans and the first 250 children to arrive will receive glowing bracelets.
Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori
Address: Rinko Park
Website: Minatomirai Dai Bon Odori
Takes Place: August
10. Beer Fes Yokohama
The Beer Fes is one of the best among Yokohama’s beer festivals. It lasts for three days in September and is held at Osanbashi Hall. Pay the cost of 5,000 JPY (46 USD) for a ticket to procure an aroma glass. If purchased earlier you can get it cheaper. The aroma glass is used to sample as much as 200 variants of both imported and local craft beer as you walk around the venue. Enjoy at least three-and-a-half hours of non-stop drinking!
Beer Fes Yokohama (September)
Address: Osanbashi Hall
Website: Beer Fes Yokohama (September)
Takes Place: September
Price: 5,000 JPY (46 USD)
Great celebrations in Yokohama
The many festivals of Yokohama make it such a lovely place to be at. There is always a lot of food, drinks, dancing, fireworks, music, and merriment involved in every celebration. These festivals may make you want you to extend your stay or decide to settle down. Make it a point to see at least one of these festivals next time you visit Yokohama, Japan.
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