Festivals and Events
Thailand's various festivals and events are as colourful as the people and stunning landscapes. To help plan when to visit, here's an overview of some of the biggest and best.
Held on the second day of January each year, Children's Day sees parents all over Thailand lavish gifts and attention on their offspring with increased travel as families take advantage of the free or reduced entry prices to many of the country's top sites.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
On the first weekend of February at the end of the cool season the northern city of Chiang Mai comes alive with colour during a three-day festival of floral displays and horticultural competitions with incredible floats decorated with flowers and petals parade through the streets. The elaborate traditional floral art installations dates back to the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom and is of great pride to the city.
Makha Bucha Day
This day marks the event of 1,250 disciples gathering to listen to the Lord Buddha preach. Buddhist monks receive alms in the morning and spend the evening in local temples lighting candles and incense as they circumambulate the main altar of the temple. It's a public holiday in Thailand with some services closed for the day.
National Muay Thai Day
Thailand's national sport enjoys a day of celebration in honour of the legendary hero of the sport, Nai Khanom Tom. Formal ceremonies take place in Muay Thai stadiums and training camps across the country though festivities are particular grand in Ayutthaya where a week-long festival is held that attracts fans of the sport from all over the globe.
Songkran - Thai New Year Water Festival
This nationwide party and spectacle lasts several days and welcomes the arrival of the New Year with playful water fights, the lighting of firecrackers and a good spring clean in family homes. Religious ceremonies are held on the third day with specially prepared food offered to monks.
Every year the day that Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers arrived at Gallipoli in Turkey back in 1915 is commemorated around the world in honour of the countless men and women who lost their lives, not only during the battle but during WWI also. In Kanchanaburi, home to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai, a dawn parade and ceremony is held at the Allied War Cemetery.
Phuket Yachting Race Week
For a week in July Phuket throngs with sailing fans for an action-packed event that includes sport boat displays, cat racing and a four-day regatta alongside a host of social functions that start in the afternoon and last most of the evening.
Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival
On this day offerings of cooked rice, food, incense and candles are offered to Buddhist monks as they line the streets. Devotees are also presented with the distinctive violet and yellow Dok Khao Phansa flower.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
With a history dating back to the 1820s this festival involves 10-days of strict vegetarian diet in order to spiritually cleanse the soul and bring good luck. During the festival devotees will dress in all white and join lively parades with drums played and firecrackers lit. In the evenings burning coal is placed on the grounds of temples for the brave to walk across.
Loi Krathong – Festival of Light
Celebrated nationwide this festival sees small rafts and baskets fashioned from banana leaves filled with candles, incense, flowers, coins and a small clipping of hair or nails are floated out on rivers and waterways to carry away bad luck in the hope of a new start. It takes place on the full moon of the twelfth month of the traditional Thai lunar and is a lovely time to visit.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival
Unique to northern Thailand and the city of Chiang Mai particularly with origins dating back to the ancient Lanna kingdom. Colourful lantern displays decorate the city with evening parades and sky lanterns released throughout the night. The softly glowing lights are released simultaneously from one particular spot in town and fill the darkening skies for a stunning spectacle.