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Thailand Festivals

Thailand FestivalsMany of Thailand's annual events are determined by the lunar calendar, so dates change from year to year, this is particularly true of religious holidays.

Be aware that now, however, most larger shops no longer close for public holidays, although smaller retail outlets and family shops close for Chinese New Year and Songkran. Provinces have their own local festivals to celebrate harvests of seasonal crops.


Chiang Mai Winter Fair
Beauty pageants, boxing competitions, stalls selling a range of locally made goods and very loud music make this an exciting, if unsophisticated, event.

The River of Kings Festival
The River of Kings Festival presents a spectacular light-and-sound extravaganza in a grand theatrical production with a cast of more than 700 actors and actresses and two live elephants, depicting the history of Thailand (January 31- February 9, 2003 at Ratchaworadit Pier, Bangkok)


Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Beauty contests, handicraft sales, flower displays and a parade of sumptuously decorated floats take to the streets as Chiang Mai residents celebrate flower power.

Bangkok China Town Festival
The area around Yaowarat road, known as "Chinatown" in Bangkok, comes alive to celebrate Chinese New Year festival. The one-kilometre stretch of road will be decorated with flowers and Chinese lantern. Activities include the Golden Dragon Light and Sound Presentation, the International Dragon and Lion Parade, Chinese Food Stalls and Chinese Opera and cultural events. (Dates vary according to the lunar calendar - normally around February 1-2)


Asean Barred Ground Dove Festival
Dove-lovers from across Thailand, and neighboring countries congregate at Khwan Muang Park, in Yala Province, to display their prize doves and take part in the dove-cooing competition, which usually involves more than 1,400 participants.


Songkran Festival Nationwide
The traditional Thai New Year usually falls around the 13-17th. Local people to pay homage to Buddha images, clean their homes, and sprinkle water on their elders in a show of respect. This has developed in recent years into open water warfare, with everything from hoses to ten gallon tubs used to guarantee a thorough soaking of the target. This is particularly popular in the tourist areas of Khao San Road, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. The latter also holds colourful parades and religious ceremonies.

Pattaya Festival
Usually a week after the Songkran festivities in Bangkok, this is a riotous celebration with parades, floats, beauty contests, food festivals, and a spectacular fireworks display.


Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Presided over by the King and Queen at Sanam Luang in Bangkok, this ancient Brahmin festival marks the beginning of the rice-planting season. Predictions are made about weather and harvests for the coming year on the basis of which of the selected foods the sacred cows choose.

Visakha Bucha - Nationwide
Marked by night-time processions of worshippers around almost every temple in the kingdom, this festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing of Lord Buddha.

Yasothon Rocket Festival
Villagers from the poor northeastern province of Yasothon compete with each other to make the biggest, most explosive bamboo rockets during this annual rainmaking festival. Prizes are awarded for the rocket that reaches the highest trajectory.


Thailand Grand Sales
At participating shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, tourist sites nationwide) when a wide range of products are available at discount prices. During this grand sales festival, participating shopping malls and outlets will join hands in organizing special weeks of clothes, accessories, Thai handicrafts, Thai silks, electrical appliances, sports products, brand name products and local textiles. Hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, tour operators and car rentals will also offer discounts during this period.


Candle Festival
Coinciding with Asalaha Bucha, this festival sees the streets of Ubon Ratchathani filled with processions of huge, beautifully carved beeswax candles, some of them several metres tall, that are to be presented to local temples.


Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen - Nationwide
Also marking Mother's Day in Thailand, the 12th of August see the towns and villages of the country festively decorated with lights and portraits of the Queen.

International Marathon at Songkla
This international marathon is open to runners of all nationalities. The race will be divided into 5 categories: 42.195 kms marathon, 21.1 kms half-marathon, 10.5 kms mini half-marathon, 3 kms jog for health and 42.195 kms wheelchair race.

International Mountain Bike Rally
Tak Province will host the local and international races of the mountain bikes, biking tour through the nature and the forest plantation as part of the scheme to honor HRH.


Phuket Vegetarian Festival
This ten day Chinese festival in Phuket has become world-famous for the gory pictures of people impaling their faces and bodies with everything from swords, spears and even fish. Apparently unable to feel pain and in a trance-like state, these people of Chinese ancestry parade in the streets with the various arrays of sharp objects still protruding from their flesh. A little less gory are the beauty pageants, fairs and food stalls that line the streets of Phuket town.

Phichit Boat Races
Though boat races take place in several towns along the Mekong River in September, the spectacular annual rowing regatta in Phichit takes place on the Nan River, which runs through the provincial capital. Low-slung wooden boats rowed with great gusto to the hearty cheers of spectators make this an exciting day at the races.


Wax Castle Festival
The end of Buddhist Lent is marked by the people in the northeast of Thailand with the creation of miniature beeswax Buddhist temples and shrines. These "wax castles" help them to gain merit, which will determine their future rebirth. Sakon Nakhon has one of the most spectacular festivals with a grand wax procession, boat races and traditional northeastern cultural performances.

Chon Buri Buffalo Races
A chance for buffalos to do more than just plough fields as they compete in races and contests pitting the strength of man against that of his faithful farm animal.

Illuminated Boat Procession Festival
The festival reflects the culture of illuminated boat procession (‘Loy Kratong’ Festival of the northeastern region), illuminated boat procession contest, alms giving and boat races along the Mekong River.


Loy Krathong - Nationwide
River spirits are placated for another year with gifts of Krathongs floated on rivers, canals and lakes on the night of the full moon. Made of banana leaves, and decorated with incense and candles, thousands of these beautiful boats light up the night. The most beautiful sights are at the Bang Sai Arts & Crafts Centre near Ayutthaya, and in the ruins of Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, where the festival is supposed to have originated.

Surin Elephant Roundup
With tug-o-wars, demonstrations of logging skills, ancient warfare parades, and even games of football, the elephants of Surin entertain the crowds of visitors to this north eastern town.

River Kwai Bridge Week
The River Kwai bridge, in Kanchanaburi, is the setting for this week-long festival featuring spectacular sound and light performances on the bridge, archaeological and historical exhibitions, and vintage train rides. (November 21 to December)

Phimai Festival
Spectacular light and sound presentation under the theme of 'Vimainatthakarn' - an depicts the glorious era of Khmer. Interpretation service is available in English, French and Japanese. Cultural shows by a Thai classical dance group, local Thai classical dancing, and an historical exhibition. Also Buddha image processions, Thailand's King's cup final round long-tailed boat race and a bike tour.


Birthday of His Majesty the King - Nationwide
Flags, lights and portraits of His Majesty the King adorn the streets and building of every town and village on the 5th and the occasion is marked by a huge and spectacular fireworks display near the Grand Palace.

Phuket King's Cup Regatta
Southeast Asia's leading regatta, held in the waters off the island of Phuket and starting on the first Saturday of the month. Competitors come from around the world to take part in this annual event.

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