Fire from above

SHAN STATE, Myanmar – At the end of the eighth month of the Burmese calendar, when the moon is full, locals from around Shan State gather in the town of Taunggyi to launch hundreds of hot air balloons packed with homemade fireworks to mark the end of the rainy season at the Tazaungdaing Lighting Festival.

Though known as one of the region’s most spectacular events all year, it is also known as one of the world’s oddest, containing hand-powered ferris wheels, curious carnival games, and cruel animal shows. The explosive-laced balloons are known to collapse, which can be quite dangerous since thousands of spectators show up for the festival – this year four people lost  their lives during the celebration, while 12 others were injured. The photos that follow are a peek into one of the world’s most beautiful and dangerous celebrations.

Some of these pictures were first published in Vice. Click here.