The majority of the Thai festivals and events are related to religion. Most of the theatrical styled festivals are Hindu or Brahmin in origin, and honour the deities and spirits with parades consisting of ceremonial costumes and ancient rites. The Buddhist events are focused round a local temple, and include makeshift stages and trinket vendors with entertainment like beauty contests, singing stars and folk theatre.
Other shows include the secular festivals such as the Bridge over the River Kwai spectacle and elephant roundups which take place in the local outdoor environment, and a great thing to see on the Thailand holidays. Also, there aren’t many of the religious festivals with a fixed date and this can change slightly each year.
Here are a few of the most popular Thai festivals and events to celebrate while on the Thailand travel packages:
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year is celebrated in the city of Nakhon Sawan over a period of three days that takes place between mid-January and late February. This celebration includes a fireworks display, an international lion-dance competition, Chinese opera performances and exuberant parade of lions or dragons. Also, this occasion is celebrated across the country in any region with a Chinatown, especially in places like Phuket and Bangkok.
The three-day Flower Festival takes place in Chiang Mai in early February which mainly consists of creating huge floral sculptures that are paraded through the local streets. The tropical flowers used in the creation of the sculptures are sourced from the local area on reaching full bloom. The festival days are very busy in the local area, so if travelling to see the festival on the Thailand customized tour it is important to book a guest house or hotel early. Other entertainment over the course of the three-day festival include music shows, food fairs, beauty contests (Miss Flower Bloom) and flower exhibitions.
Makha Puja (also called Magha Puja) is a nationwide festival that takes place in February/March, with some of the major events held at Wat Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai and Wat Benjamabophit in Bangkok. On this day, up to 1250 monks will gather to hear the Buddha preach. Other features of this day include the local people giving alms to monks, with temples filled with people listening to sermons, and common ritual is to walk around the temple while holding a lighted candle, incense and flowers.
Also, for the duration of the religious holidays in Thailand, the sale of alcohol is prohibited with most of the bars and clubs left closed for the festival period.
The Songkhran is a nationwide celebrated event that takes place in mid-April with the largest events held in places like Bangkok’s Thanon Khao San and Chiang Mai. This festival is held to celebrate the Thai New Year and includes a variety of activities, such as a beauty contest, parades, sandcastle building and massive water fights. Visitors to Bangkok at this time of the year on the Thailand family tour can get a full appreciated of the Songkhran celebration by attending one of the temples.
The Visakha Puja festival is regarded as one of the holiest days for those following the Buddhist religion because it is the day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. This event is held nationwide, but the major events take place at Wat Mahathat Nakhon Si Thammarat, in Chiang Mai at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and in Bangkok’s Wat Benjamabophit. A common theme of this festival is the evening procession with the locals walking around the wat with candles lit to illuminate their passage.
Poy Sang Long
The Poy Sang Long takes place in early April with the event held in Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son. This festival celebrates the young Thai man's ordination into monkhood with a street parade taking place with the young people in festive garb and floral headdresses.
The Thawt Kathin festival is held in October/November each year and is celebrated across the entire country. This festival takes place after the three month rainy season, and is a time for the original people to gift a donation to the monkhood which normally consist of giving a new robe or items of food. Thawt Kathin is celebrated with a festival and parades in most towns across the country.
The Rocket Festival is held annually in May in most regions of Isaan – although the liveliest celebrations seem to take place in Yasothon. This is a fun festival to see on the Thailand tours and focuses on parading the beautifully painted and crafted wooden rockets that are later fired to help encourage ample rains. The good rainy season is needed to get the productive harvest of rice. Other activities over the course of the two day event include beauty queen contests, folklore bands, street theatre, and street parades.
The Loy Krathong is celebrated across the country – although the most extravagant events take place in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai. It takes place in November with the locals floating lighted candles and baskets of flowers on virtually any available body of water (seashores, canals, lakes, rivers, or ponds) to help celebrate the conclusion of the rainy season and honour water spirits. Most towns get involved with the celebrations with activities like fireworks, public entertainments, and bazaars taking place. Also, in a city like Chiang Mai there is the release of paper hot-air balloons.
The Raek Na is celebrated in early May in Sanam Luang, Bangkok and relates to a ploughing festival and the start of the rice-planting season. While the local monks sit by a statue of Buddha, a white sacred is watched as it ploughs the field, while a group of people follow behind and play musical instruments and hold banners.
World Heritage Site Festival
The World Heritage Site Festival is held in December at Ayutthaya to celebrate the town’s UNESCO designation, and includes a week long celebration with beauty pageants, singing contests, concerts, local music, cultural shows, and light and sound shows.