April festivals in Thailand

As Thailand sees a gradual return of events and festivals, all with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, it’s time to take note of those that bring colour, light and laughter to the month of April.

The Poy Sang Long Festival or Festival of the Crystal Sons

Early April

Mae Hong Son west of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand is the setting for the Poi Sang Long Buddhist ceremony in early April each year. More of a ceremony than a festival, Poi Sang Long marks the ordination of young boys entering monasteries and embarking on the study of Buddhism. Lasting three days, the festival is aimed at boys aged between 7 and 14 years old. On the first day, the boys are brought to the temple to have their hair and eyebrows shaved off completely. They are also ritually purified and paraded to the sound of traditional drums and flutes on the day.

On the second day, the young boys dress in white turbans and are walked through the town towards the temple, where they give offerings to Buddha and ask for blessings from the spirits. On the last day, the boys are made up with lipstick, eye shadow, rouge and a yellow face powder made from the bark of a tree, before being dressed like young ‘Jewelled Princes’ with white turbans and carried to the temple. It’s a spectacular sight of pride and jubilation. The most vibrant Poy Sang Long Festival celebrations are at Wat Ku Tao and Wat Pa Pao in Chiang Mai and you would be most welcome to follow the parade.

Chakri Day

6th April

Chakri Memorial Day celebrates the founding of the still-reigning Chakri Royal Dynasty in 1782. It is also a day to remember all of the contributions that the Chakri Kings have made throughout the history of Thailand.

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Songkran Thailand New Year Water Festival

12-15thApril

Imagine taking to the streets armed with a water pistol and the express purpose of shooting as much water as possible at passers-by, family and friends in a madly wonderful and fun celebration that sees in the New Year. This is exactly what happens annually during the much-adored Songkran festival in April each year. Celebrated in Thailand as the traditional Buddhist New Year, the word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, which means transformation or change and marks the beginning of the solar calendar. For many, it is a period of reflection and time to show respect to elders, but for others, it’s a perfect opportunity to hit the streets for giant water fights – something that is enjoyed by thousands across the Kingdom.

Taking place every year, this festival is a joyous return to childhood, to playful water fights that cool down hot days and to the unadulterated giggles and bliss of the mood and revelry. With April the hottest time of year in Thailand, it’s also the perfect way to cool off. But there is a deeper meaning and a symbolism to the throwing of water. During this time Thais will visit temples and pour water over Buddha statues, the act representing washing away the sins and bad luck and starting the New Year with a pure and clean slate.

Phuket Bike Week

April 12–18, 2021

http://www.phuketbikeweek.com/

A much-anticipated event, the Phuket Bike Week is hosted each April and coincides with Songkran, making Phuket an even more appealing place to be. Traditionally drawing over 50,000 participants from over 30 countries, look out for parades, car contests and classic motorbike exhibitions with popular brands of bikes such as BMW, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Yamaha. Most of the activities and attractions take place on Patong Beach at Loma Park with numerous street food, souvenirs stands, as well as professional equipment and biking regalia such as leather jackets, boots, caps, helmets, bandanas, stickers and T-shirts up for sale. In the early evenings during the week, there are often parties going on at the main stage in Loma Park.

Note: Be aware that some of the festivities may be postponed or rescheduled this year given Covid-19, double-check all schedules when making your arrangements and do bear in mind that they will be more subdued than in the past.

This Blog has been written by Dawn Jorgensen AKA “The Incidental Tourist”