The most well known of all Thai festivals, Songkran is for those who love a good water fight. It's the official Thai New Year in April and lasts around 2 to 3 days. Streets fill with people throwing water and smearing fragrant powder over the faces of revellers. Water is a symbol of cleansing and starting afresh, which is exactly what the Thai people want to do to start the New Year. Songkran is not only about splashing water around, it is also a time to pay homage to Buddha, to offer food to Buddhist monks, to pay respect to elders, and a time to clean out your home of anything old and useless. Buddha images are cleansed with water and fragrances to bring prosperity to the New Year.
In some cities like Pattaya additional Songkran festivities are held after the official holiday and can extrand the activities for several more days.
The day when the reigning King Bhumibol was crowned as the 9th king of the Chakri Dynasty.
The Rocket Festival is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by ethnic Lao people throughout much of Isaan and Laos, in numerous villages and municipalities near the beginning of the wet season. Celebrations typically include music and dance performances, processions of floats, dancers, musicians, and culminating on the third day in the firing of home-made rockets.
The Ubon Ratchatani Candle festival is held at the start of the Buddhist Lenten period. Artists create huge wax sculptures as a Buddhist offering. On Asanha Bucha day, the candles are taken to Thung Si Mueang, a park in the middle of the city, where they are decorated and then exhibited in the evening. Small processions with lighted candles can also be seen at several temples. The procession takes place on the morning of Wan Kao Pansa. The candles are paraded through the city centre on floats, accompanied by representatives of the respective institutions. These are normally dancers or musicians in traditional dress.
To celebrate the Queen's birthday and the Mother's Day, a grand celebration is held at Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. There are free concerts and performances given by many popular Thai artists and a variety of entertainment. Buildings along Ratchadamnoen Road and other main roads are decorated with thousands of colourful lights, flags and portraits of the Queen.
In September and October boat-racing festivals are held in several provinces. The best known are held in Nan, Phichit, Phitsanulok and Chumphon.
Loi Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar and usually falls in November. Loi means
to float and krathong is a
floating boat or
floating decoration. The traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree
or a spider lily plant. Modern krathongs are more often made of polystyrene which local authorities are trying to discourage because they pollute the rivers and may
take years to decompose. A krathong is decorated with incense sticks, a candle and a small coin as an offering to the river spirits.
Held in Kanchanaburi province to commemorate the terrible ordeal suffered in the construction of the Death Railway during World War II. The festival features a historical exhibition, fun fair, bazaar and exciting light & sound presentation.
Huge crowds gather at Sanam Luang and on Ratchadamnoen Road in Bangkok on the evenings of the 4th and 5th to celebrate the reigning King Bhumibol Adulyadej birthday on 5th December. The King has reigned since June 1946, making him the world's longest reigning current monarch and the world's longest serving head of state. King Bhumibol is revered throughout Thailand and gained enormous respect from both Thai people and foreginers for his work in many social and economic development projects.
Thailand welcomes the New Year with various kinds of colourful events nationwide. You can head on over to any of their renowned beaches, mainly Pattaya and Phuket, or go up north to Chiang Mai to usher in the New Year with an official countdown. Bangkok also offers a load of parties and most celebrations include spectacular firework displays that will ensure you start the New Year right with a bang!
Several other holdays are observed in Thailand:
Chinese New Year in February, Makha Bucha Day on 4th March, April 6th is Chakri Day, May 1st is Labour Day, May 13th is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, 1st June is Visakha Bucha Day, July 30th is Asahna Bucha Day, October 23 is Chulalongkorn Day and December 10th is Constitution Day.
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