There are countless festivals and special events held in Thailand throughout the year. Some of these are celebrated nationwide (e.g. Songkran and Loy Krathong) whilst other festivals are specific to particular cities or provinces. With a number of Thai festivals and Buddhist holidays, the exact date varies each year because it depends on the lunar calendar and the night of the full moon. Listed below are some of the best-known annual Thai festivals and special events. The dates listed here are not public holidays in Thailand unless stated.
The celebration of the Chinese New Year remains the most important of annual festivals on the Chinese lunar calendar observed in the various regions of Thailand. Chinese New Year is on 23rd January . Festive celebrations are typically staged in areas where there is a significant Thai-Chinese community such as the Yaowarat district in Bangkok and in the provinces of Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Chon Buri (Pattaya district) and Ratchaburi in Central Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima in Northeastern Thailand, Nakhon Sawan (Pak Nam Pho) and Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, Songkhla (Hat Yai district) and Phuket in Southern Thailand.
This fair features demonstrations, contests and sales of wood carvings and local handicrafts, and includes local folk performance and a procession highlighting the entire range popular northern Thai wood crafts.
Nakhon Phanom, on th bank of the Mekong River, is the site of the famous Phra That Phanom which enshrines a relic of the Lord Buddha and is regarded as a symbol of northeastern Thailand. This annual seven-day fair attracts thousands of devotees who pay homage at the shrine and also enjoy the numerous entertainments.
This festival is held every year by local residents of Chinese ancestry and honours the golden dragon deity in gratitude for his benevolence. A procession in colourful costumes makes its way through the streets of the provincial capital with marching bands, lion and dragon dances, and figures of venerated deities.
This fair honours the Phra Buddha Chinarat, one of Thailand's most sacred Buddha images which are now enshrined at Wat Phra SiRattana Mahathat in Phitsanulok. Festive as well as religious, it features assorted kinds of entertainment such as folk theatre and ram-wong dancing, as well as stalls selling local products.
In 1592 at Don Chedi, King Naresuan the Great of Ayutthaya won a famous duel on elephant with the leader of an enemy force, thus liberating the Thai Kingdom. This fair commemorates the momentous event with historical exhibitions, outdoor entertainments, and the high spirits characteristic of all Thai festivals.
Almost everyone in the small village of Bo Sang, near Chiang Mai, derives a liveihood from making gaily painted paper umbrellas. This fair, held on the main street, celebrates their traditional skill and features contests, exhibitions, stalls selling umbrellas and other handicrafts, and the selection of Miss Bo Sang.
Straw is a plentiful by-product in rice farming, and local villagers construct large, brightly coloured straw birds reflecting the more than 85 species contained in the Chai Nat Bird Park. The Straw birds are paraded in a fair which also features local handicrafts and culinary delicacies.
Showcasing some of the most exotic and rarest orchids in Thailand and other countries.
"Maghapuja" is a Pali (and Sanskrit) word consisting of two elements - Magha and puja, which mean "the third lunar month" and "worship" respectively. So, the whole word means "worship on the full-moon day of the third lunar month in commemoration of the Great Assembly of Disciples". According to Buddhist scriptures, nine months after Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment, on the full-moon day of the third lunar month corresponding to the zodiacal sign of capricornus, in the year 44 before the Buddhist Era, or 587 B.V., a total of 1,250 disciples of the Buddha from various places spontaneously assembled at Wat Veluvan in Magadha to pay their respects to their Teacher.
The north is noted for its rich variety of flowering plants, particularly temperate-zone specimens which are at their best during this cool month. Spectacular floral floats are a memorable feature of this annual event held in Chiang Mai, together with displays of flowers, handicraft sales, and beauty contests.
This annual fair celebrates a local heroine who rallied townspeople against foreign invaders during the 1800s. Celebrations customarily feature fireworks displays, colourful processions, cultural displays and exhibitions, and beauty contests.
Held in one of Thailand's most scenic areas, this celebrates the ordination of novices belonging to the Thai Yai tribal group.
The three-day festival features cultural performances by four different ethnic groups of Thailand, a light & sound drama, a beauty contest, and local product sales.
During this three day event, the people of Nakhon Si Thammarat pay homage to locally enshrined relics of the Buddha. There are a number of religious ceremonies, among them a traditional merit-making procession which brings a Phra Botfia cloth painting of the Lord Buddha's life storyfito be placed over the relics.
Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo, a goldess believed to possess potent magic powers, is revered in Pattani and other provinces of the far south. This annual fair pays homage to her and features ascetics able to perform extraordinary feats of endurance as well as alively procession of devotees through the provincial capital.
Local people celebrate commencement of the traditional Thai New Year, customarily a time for paying respect to one's elders, by offering food to ancestral spirits. Festivities include a colourful procession, ceremonial food offerings, a beauty contest, culinary demonstrations, sports competitions, and musical and cultural performances.
The mons was among Thailand's earliest settlers and a large community of them still lives in the Phra Padaeng district of Samut Prakan province, just south of Bangkok. They, too, celebrate the start of the old former solar New Year sithe a thorough cleaning of the house, religious observances, and colour parades.
Thailand's world-famous seaside resort puts on its most festive face for this annual event, held at the height of the summer season. Food and floral floats, beauty contests, stalls selling local delicacies, and a spectacular display of fireworks on the beach are only a few of the highlights that attract merry-makers.
Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, is celebrated all over the country but nowhere with more enthusiasm than in Chiang Mai. Part of the celebration is religious, marked by merit-making ceremonies at local temples, and part is pure pleasure, with good-natured water throwing, parades, and beauty contests.
The traditional Thai New Year is celebrated citywide, most notably at Sanam Luang, fronting the Grand Palace, where the revered Phra Buddha Sihing image is displayed and bathed by devotees, and at Winsutkasat, where a Miss Songkran beauty contest is accompanied by merit-making, paying respects to elders and numerous forms of entertainment, including high-spirited water throwing.
The Traditional Thai New Year is an occasion for merrymaking in Bangkok as well as in other parts of the country religious ceremonies as well as public festivities. Anyone who ventures out on the streets is likely to get a through soaking, but all in a spirit of fun welcome at the peak of the hot season.
Located on a hilltop with splendid views, Phanom Rung is an impressive Khmer temple dating from the early part of the Angkor Wat period, adorned with superb stone carvings. The temple complex, recently restored by the Fine Arts Department, is the centerpiece of this fair, which also features various exhibits.
This is the holiest of all Buddhist Religious days during the year, marking the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Lord Buddha. As on Magha Puja, temples throughout the country are crowded with people who listen to sermons by revered monks, and in the evening there is a solemn candlelit procession around the main monastery building.
Chiang Rai, Thailand's northernmost province is known for the high quality of the lychees that grow in its orchards, and this fair celebrates the harvest season. In addition to sales of the fruit, there are displays of other agricultural products and local handicrafts.
An ancient Brahman ritual, this celebrates the official commencement of the rice-planting season and is held at Sanam Luang, the large field across from the Grand Palace. Colorful costumes are worn by the participants who perform various ceremonies which are believed to forecast the abundance of the coming rice crop.
These annual fairs are held in the eastern provinces Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat to celebrate the abundance of local fruits such a rambutan, durian, mangosteen and Zallaca, then at their peak of succulent ripeness. Besides stalls selling the product of surrounding archards, and local products, there are colorful processions of floats decorated with fruits and flowers, beauty pageants, fruits contests, cultural shows, exhibitions of provincial handicrafts and agricultural produce, and local entertainments.
This annual celebration commemorates the birthday of the celebrated Rattanakosin poet, Sunthorn Phu (1787 - 1855), designated as an eminent classical poet by UNESCO. The celebration occurs at the Sunthorn Phu Memorial Park at Ban Kram village, Amphoe Klaeng, birthplace of the poet father. Highlights include dramatic performances and puppet shows depicting Sunthorn Phu's literary works, poetry recitals and folk entertainment.
The festival has its origin in a traditional Buddhist tale. When Prince Vessadorn, the Buddha's penultimate incarnation, returned to his city, the welcoming procession was so delightful that spirits emerged to celebrate. Phi Ta Khon is celebrated largely by young men who dress as spirits to parade a sacred Buddha image and tease villagers, and monks reciting the story of the Buddha's last great incarnation before attaining Enlightenment.
This day marks commencement of the annual three-month Rains Retreat when Buddhist monks customarily stay inside their monasteries to study and meditate. Phansa is the most auspicious time for Buddhist ordinations since it comprises a period of renewed a spiritual vigour.
The full-moon of the eight lunar months commemorates the Buddhaus first sermon to his first five disciples after attaining Enlightenment more than 2,530 years ago. Evening candlelit processions are staged in all Thai Buddhist temples. Local people celebrate commencement of the traditional Thai New Year, customarily a time for paying respect to one's elders, by offering food to ancestral spirits. Festivities include a colorful procession, ceremonial food offerings, a beauty contest, culinary demonstrations, sports competitions, and musical and cultural performances.
The commencement of Phansa, or the Buddhist Rains Retreat, (known in Thai as Khao Phansa) is observed in the northeastern city of Ubon Ratchathani with this lovely festival that displays artistic skills as well as piety. Beautifully carved beeswax candles, some of them several metres tall, are exhibited in colourful parades before being presented to local temples
This annual sailing event takes place in the beach resort town of Hua Hin, just a couple of hours by car from Bangkok. The races can be viewed from Hua Hin Beach.
This ceremony is celebrated locally during the fifteen nights of the waning moon period in the tenth lunar month to bring merit to the souls of ancestors. Buddhists offer a variety of foods and other gifts to monks, and there are also numerous cultural performances, exhibitions, contests, and other entertainments.
Thais of Chinese ancestry make offerings to the Moon or Queen of the Heavens in gratitude for past and future fortune. Traditional festivities include lion and dragon dances, lantern processions and contests, displays and folk entertainment.
Phichit is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Thailand, with green valleys and picturesque wooded hills. This annual regatta takes place on the Nan River which runs through the provincial capital and features numerous low-slung wooden boats raced with great gusto to the cheers of spectators.
Site of Thailand's largest Buddhist monument, the 127-metre Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom also holds this annual fair to display the wide range of fruits that grow in the province. In addition, there are demonstrations of Thai and Chinese food preparation, floral floats, and numerous other entertainments.
Langsat, a fruit eaten raw, is a specialty of Uttaradit and celebrated in this typical provincial fair. Among the features are a display and sale of products made by the people of Lap Lae, a village noted for its handicrafts, local entertainments, and a contest to select a beauty queen.
Tak Bat Devo' means to fill the bowls of the gods, and in this festival, held a day after Ok Phansa, monks descend from a hilltop temple to receive offerings from local people, as the Buddha himself is believed to have done after preaching to his mother in heaven; folk theatre and other entertainments are also provided.
This annual festival originated among immigrant workers in the 19th century and is one of the major events of Phuket. Residents of Chinese ancestry go on a ten-day vegetarian diet and there are ceremonies at local Chinese temples as well as parades that feature remarkable feats by ascetic believers.
Chak Phra, an activity occurring on the same day as the Thot Phapa ceremony, a form of merit-making when Buddhists offer saffron robes to monks and donate money to temples, at the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat. Thot Phapa takes places at dawn, before Chak Phra, the ceremony when Buddha images on elaborately decorated carriages are pulled by local people in land and water-borne processions.
Located on the bank of the Mekong River, the provincial capital of Nakhon Phanom observes Ok Phansa the end of Buddhist rains retreat by setting intricately decorated little boats, each containing a lighted candle, adrift on the river when night falls. Various entertainments are also provided in the town during the several days of the festival.
One of the unique and most impressive events anywhere in the world, the majestic Royal Barges glide down the placid Chao Phraya, the River of Kings, an unforgettable sight.
This well-known regatta is part of the festivities that accompany the annual kathin season, when groups present robes to the monks of local temples in merit-making ceremonies. The races are enhanced by the distinctive Nan boats, long, hollowed-out logs painted with bright colors and adorned with fanciful designs.
This annual regatta is staged on the Mun River in Buri Ram's Satuek district. Celebrations include processions and cultural performances featuring elephants. Visitors have the opportunity of visiting the nearby Phanom Rung Historical Park.
Celebrations include traditional float (Krathong) and beauty contests, handicrafts demonstrations and exhibitions, special events, and krathong-launching beneath the full moon.
These popular races take place on the Mun River near the old Khmer city of Phimai, a fascinating archaeological site that can be visited at the same time. Besides the regatta there are competitions of boats decorated to resemble the famous Royal Barges, entertainments, and stalls selling local produce.
Internationally famous, this annual event brings crowds of visitors to the provincial city of Surin, where over 100 trained elephants are assembled. Among the spectacular features are wild elephant hunts, tugs of war, demonstrations of log pulling skills, and a parade of elephants outfitted for medieval warfare.
A tribute to a master musician and composer, H.M. the King, the event will feature internationally known leading jazz musicians performing in both Bangkok and Pattaya.
In Chiang Mai, an unusual part of the Loi Krathong celebration is the Yi Peng Festival or the ritual of the lighted balloon. After a day of merit-making, the people launch colorful hot air paper balloons into the sky, bearing their troubles away. In the evening, all homes and shops are decorated with beautiful lanterns. Later, traditional Krathongs are also floated on the river and other waterways.
According to tradition, Loi Krathong originated in Sukhothai, the first Thai capital, and so it is appropriate to hold this memorable festival in the atmospheric ruins of the ancient city. Highlights include displays of lighted candles and fireworks, folk dancing, and a spectacular light and sound presentation.
Celebrated in the movie of the same name, the bridge on the River Kwai is the setting for this week-long series of events in province that also has other interesting attractions. Highlights include a light and sound presentation at the bridge, archaeological and historical exhibitions, and rides on vintage trains.
Everybody has heard of Thailand's lustrous silks, and Khon Kaen is one of the major centres of production. Many shops will be offering the beautiful fabric at this fair, which is combined with the traditional Phuk Sieo (friendship-making) ritual. Festival processions and cultural shows add to the atmosphere.
Lopburi is one of the provinces of the central region and home to several prominent artefacts and pre-historic monuments. Major architectural landmarks located within the provincial city area include the shrine of Lord Shiva or Prang Khaek, Narai Ratchaniwet Palace, San Phra Kan, Phra Prang Sam Yot and Wat Phra Si Mahathat. Another significant symbol of Lop Buri city are the monkeys. To its residents, the primates are descendants of Hanuman who, according to the epic Ramayana made Lop Buri his kingdom. These mischievous monkeys have taken over many attractions, especially San Phra Kan and Phra Prang Sam Yot.
A highly interesting demonstration of local and traditional sporting events and folk games, recalling the heritage of a nation.
Their Majesties the King and Queen preside over this impressive annual event, held in the Royal Plaza near the equestrian statue of King Chulalongkorn. Dressed in colorful uniforms, amid much pomp and ceremony, members of the elite Royal Guards swear allegiance to the King and march past members of the Royal Family.
The deep reverence felt by all Thais for their King is perhaps unique in the modern world, and his birthday provides an annual occasion for public expression. Government buildings, businesses, and homes all over the country are elaborately decorated and the area around the Grand Palace is spectacularly illuminated.
Especially organized to add colour and excitement to the month of December, when major highlights of the 50th Anniversary of His Majesty's Accession to the Throne will be featured. Bright and glittering lights of the parade along Ratchadamnoen Avenue make a most impressive sight.
This annual competition features various form of traditional Thai kites; and includes surrogate battles of the sexes featuring Chula (male) and Pakpao (female) kites.
Sakhon Nakhon Province will hold the “Star of David Festival” during Christmas Eve and on Christmas day. Visitors can enjoy the Christmas Star Festival parade as local residents, who are Catholics and Christians, adorn their homes with colorful lights and stars to signify their faith. There will be a concert of carol singers and street-side vendors offering food. Star of David in Sakhon Nakon province is to be held from 23-25 December 2011.
The countdown is in Bangkok, Phuket, or a far northern destination; the Thailand New Year Celebrations will carry the hallmarks of fun and genuine hospitality that make the kingdom such a rewarding destination to visit. This is the land of smiles and “sanook” so what better place to ring in the new year than Thailand.
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