The Taunggyi (pronounced Tawn-gee) Balloon Festival takes place on the full moon in November in Myanmar’s Shan State. Tribal villagers come from all over the area with their handmade paper balloons in the shapes of animals like elephants and roosters, releasing them into the sky during the day. They range in size from that of a car to a house. Music and traditional dancing go on all day and late into the night.
As the night progresses more balloons are released, these often resembling a normal hot-air balloon and decorated with thousands of votive style candles. Most impressive, the balloons carry a payload of fireworks. The candles are lit and the balloon releases to cheers and dancing. At some point the paper catches fire, and the balloon incinerates in flaming ball. The fireworks are lit in the inferno, and the air explodes in a massive pyrotechnic display.