From mouthwatering food festivals to centuries-old traditional celebrations, Osaka's annual events calendar is packed to the brim. There always seems to be something to look forward to in this buzzing city, which expats often find to be an easy way to bond with locals and settle into the community.

Here are some recommended annual events in Osaka.

Annual events in Osaka

Tenjin Festival (July)

This beloved summer festival is more than a thousand years old, having first taken place at Tenmangu Shrine in the year 951. The festival honours Sugawara Michizane, the god of learning. Portable shrines are carried through the city to the Okawa River and loaded onto boats. As the boats travel down the river, they are brightly illuminated, with some even lit up by bonfires. There are also floating stages where traditional noh and bunraku plays are performed. The celebration is capped off with a grand fireworks show.

Halloween Horror Nights (September–November)

Held yearly by Universal Studios Japan, this fun-filled celebration of all things that go bump in the night is a real treat. Haunted houses, horror mazes and murder mystery parties open up after dark, while zombies can be found wandering the streets. At the Zombie de Dance event, monsters and zombies perform a step-by-step dance routine. Attendees are welcome to join the dance or can merely be amused spectators if they prefer.

Osaka Ramen Expo (December)

Each December, ramen restaurants from all over the country descend on the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park for the Osaka Ramen Expo. Ten of Japan's finest ramen purveyors set up shop each week, offering every permutation of ramen one could possibly wish for. Every week brings a new set of ramen vendors, so there's a good excuse to indulge throughout the month.

Osaka Festival of Lights (December)

The annual Festival of Lights is made up of two beautiful light displays taking place in Osaka throughout December. Attracting millions each year, the main event is Midosuji Illumination, which sees hundreds of trees lit up along 4km (2.5 miles) of Midosuji Avenue. Also not to be missed is Osaka Hikari-Renaissance, where local landmarks throughout the Nakanoshima area are lit up in a beautiful display. Breathtaking light shows are projected onto historical buildings like the Central Public Hall and Nakanoshima Library.