Thailand Must Do Festivals
Attending a local festival during your visit to Thailand guarantees better insight into the country’s tradition and people, and is bound to see you fully immersed into the culture with water fights and floating lanterns, feasting monkeys, ancient rituals, embellished masks and colourful costumes ensuring all of your senses are heightened, and captivated.
The following are the must do festivals in Thailand that you should plan your visit around.
Songkran Thai New Year Water Festival
Different regions have their own way of doing this with people in some areas throwing water at each other, while in others a hose or water pistol is used to add to the fun. Part of this celebration is warding off bad luck by getting rid of old. Songkran is celebrated on the 13th to the 15th day of April each year, starting with the Thai New Year, followed by National Family Day and ending with Elderly Day, although it may extend to more than three days in some regions.
With April being Thailand’s hottest month, a friendly water fight is a welcome activity.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
The colourful Phuket Vegetarian Festival will be held in October this year and celebrates the Chinese community’s belief that abstinence and not eating meat during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. The city’s Thai-Chinese residents undertake a 10-day vegetarian diet and along with the practice of sacred rituals and protection of the Chinese gods, believe they will be cleansed.
Men and women dressed in white go into a trance, walking barefoot on hot coals, puncturing their cheeks with swords and knives, believing that the self-sacrifice will bring good fortune. The ceremonies take place at the six Chinese temples scattered throughout Phuket, and may not be for the faint hearted.
Monkey Buffet Festival
Monkeys are endlessly entertaining and one of the most famous places in Thailand to see them is among the ruins of the historical city of Lopburi. In appreciation of their success in attracting tourists to the area, local businesses decided to put on a grand Monkey Buffet Festival on the last Sunday in November each year. They do this by serving a huge buffet of fruit and vegetables to the local monkey population of about 2000, who arrive and feast away. It’s really adorable and makes for a fun photo opportunity.
Loy Krathong Festival
On the night of the first full moon in November, the Thai people send small decorative floats or krathongs, which are small boats made from banana plant, into the water to give thanks to the water goddess, Phra Mae Khongkha for the use of her water. They release these floating objects onto while saying a prayer to let go of their stress and bad feelings and to cleanse their bad luck. This festival is dubbed the most romantic and spiritual among Thai festivals as the small lanterns light the way as they float downstream. The most popular place to witness this event is the old capital Sukhothai.
Ubon Ratchatani Candle Festival
The Ubon Ratchatani Candle Festival takes place in early August each year as the seasonal monsoons arrive in the kingdom, marking the beginning of the Buddhist Lenten period. In preparation the artists from the area set about molding and sculpting Lenten candles to be presented as Buddhist offerings, pouring their hearts and soul into their craft.
The candles are larger than life and mostly show religious symbols. These are put on floats and paraded through the city center with musicians, dancers and the artists proudly displaying them before they’re brought to the temple and offered to Buddha. This is the perfect festival for the art lover.
Phi Ta Khon Mask Festival
Phi Ta Khon is better known as the ghost festival and reflects the district’s belief in ghosts and spirits. Taking place around June/July each year, this may be Thailand’s most colourful festival with men dressing up as spirits and wearing long, bright trailing costumes made from colourful strips of cloth sewn together, as well as ghost masks as they parade through the streets of Dan Sai district, in the Loei province. Their masks are made from dried husks and skillfully hand-painted in white with vibrant colourful patterns unique to this festival.
Check with your hotel or accommodation where best to enjoy the Festival from.