Thai Festival Guide
The Thai culture is one that is filled with celebration. There are very few countries that could even rival the festivals and events that are held in Thailand through out the year. The sheer volume of these events is always surprising to travellers from the West. There is a festival or celebration of some sort every other week.
The only other nation that comes to mind in this regards is perhaps, India. This guide will look at the best festivals in Thailand, when and where they are held. We are only covering the ones that you cannot afford to miss. If you are travelling to Thailand around the time that any of these festivals are held, you would do well to make sure you experience them.
Nationwide festivals are a series of festivals that happen through out the country at various times of the year.
When: February on the full moon day
Where and what
As the name would suggest, this festival is celebrated across Thailand. However if you really want to make the most of it, Wat Benjamabophit, Bangkok is the place to be. The celebration marks a landmark day, when 1250 followers of the late Buddha gathered around him to partake of his wisdom. There is candlelit procession at the end of the night. This is the largest of the spectacle.
Sanam Luang, Bangkok: This is another prime locations for revellers of the nationwide festival. Here, you will see kite fights and flying contests of these kites. This location is hype between late February and mid April.
If you attend just one of the national festivals, this is the one to attend. It is a celebration of the Thai New Year. There are all sorts of activities to be seen and experienced. There is amazing food. Everyone around get involved in water fights. People build sandcastles around the temple area.
And as wit all Thai festival, they love a good parade. To crown it all, you get to experience the Miss Songhkran beauty contest.
Wat Benjamabophit, Bangkok
When: Full moon day in May
This is a festival in honour of the holiest day of the Bhuddist year. It is a celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This all happens in one day. The biggest draw of the year is the candlelit procession at dusk.
Tak Bat Devo and Awk Pansa
When: Full moon day in October
This is a festival of offering to monk. The festival is surrounded by a jovial atmosphere. It is in memory of Buddha’s descent from Tavatisma heaven at the end of the Khao Pansa retreat.
When: mid October to Mid November
This is a ceremony of monks getting their new robes as their retreat of rain comes to an end.
When: late October or early November
This is a festival of flowers, in celebration of the rainy season. The flowers and lit candles float on water bodies such as rivers, lakes, canals and ponds. No matter where you are in Thailand at this time of the year, you will experience this in one form or another. The best place to be is Krabi. There are fireworks to top it all up.
When: Early to mid February
Where and what
It is popularly known as Phra Nakhon Khiri fair.
This is a week of son et lumiere shows that are held at the Kao Wang palace.
February or March (At the middle of the third lunar month).
This is an absolute spectacle. The festival is in honour of the goddess Ngan Lim Ko Niaw. You will see some things you ought to never try at home. It’s an endurance event. Followers of the goddess walk through fire, among other insane things.
Nakhon Si Thammarat
When: February and May
Where and what
People from the South of Thailand come together to pay homage to Buddha. The best place to be is Hae Pha Khun That. You will witness Saffron processions around the chedi. In February it happens at the same time as Maha Puja. In May it happens at the same time as Visaka Puja.
It is also known as the ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Festival
Release the dove cooer in you. One of the highlights of the Yala festival is the dove cooing competition. Hoards of spectators gather to witness this spectacle.
When: First weekend of March.
The Pattaya festival run for a whole week. They include parades, beauty pageants, and fireworks.
Sanam Luang, Bangkok
When: Early May
This festival marks the beginning of the rice planting season. You will see Brahmin leaders parading with cattle, as well as a plough. This is seen as a lead up to great rain and a great yield.
Nakhon Si Thammarat
Tamboon Beuan Sip
When: Usually in September or October
This is a ceremony that is carried out in honour of relatives that have passed on. It is an ancestral honour ceremony. It is followed by a 10 day fair in a large field.
Phuket and Trang
Ngan Kin Jeh
When: Usually in October or November
If you are a foodie, this is the one for you. It is a vegetarian festival. The Chinese community and their descendants go on a vegetarian diet for a period of nine days. It is an absolutely beauty. The sort of things that you would see at a circus or fair of some sorts. All sorts of trickery and arts are performed. Fire tricks, sword and skewer tricks that would be suicidal if you were to try them. Chinatown is the place to go for your food and other activities.
When: Mid October
This is another massive parade. Images of the town’s Buddha are carried on display on the streets, as well as along the river bank.
Hat Nai Harn Phuket
When: Early December
This is the largest pull for an international audience. You will experience boat races involving sailors from across the world.
Wat Saket, Bangkok
When: First Week of November
As temple fairs go, this is arguably the one of the biggest ones in the world. Head over to Golden Mount. All the usual things that we have come to expect of Thai festival are on display here.
When: late October to Early November
This marks the start of the tourist season. It happens in the week that leads up to Loy Krathong. It is a beautiful festival. If you love dress up, there are a lot of costumes to be seen throughout the town. There are open air contests. Fishing enthusiasts also get to pit their skills against other fisherman. It continues past dusk, into a lovely evening of activities.