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Thailand - Major Annual Events and Festivals

Thailand has many annual festivals and major events right across the country.

Listed below are some of the festivals and events:

January

New Year's Day - Celebrated in Thailand officially since 1940 on the 1st January to adopt the global practice - Thai New Year called 'Songkran' is celebrated in April.

"River of Kings" - Close to Chinese New Year - Yaowarat - (Jan/Feb.) - A night time, spectacular, fantasy - musical outdoor stage play held at The Ratchaworadit Pier, Bangkok.

Magha Puja Day - On the full moon day of the third Thai lunar month - One of the holiest Buddhist holy days. Magha Puja Day marks the occasion when about 1,250 sainted disciples of the Lord Buddha gathered together to hear him preach.

February

Chiang Mai Flower Festival - On the first weekend in February - Friday through Sunday. Colourful floats and beauty pageant in Chiang Mai city, to promote the growing of flowers and decorative plants in Chiang Mai province.

Lion Dance Festival - Held on the 2nd and 4th day after the Chinese New Year (Jan/Feb.) Dragon and Lion dances are held in Nakhon Sawan city and also in Chinatown, Bangkok.

March

Thai Sports and Kites Festival (March) - Held in Bangkok at Sanam Luang.

April

Chakri Day (Apr) - The day to commemorate the founding of the present Chakri Dynasty in 1782.

Songkran Festival (Apr) - The traditional Thai New Year, celebrated throughout Thailand with rituals of "merit making" - when the young honour their parents, teachers and elders, music troupes with parades of dancers. With traditional water 'splashing', an unusual if not amusing way to keep you cool in the hot season. Songkran is celebrated in a big way, particularly at Phra Pradaeng near Bangkok and in the northern province of Chiang Mai. Thai's celebrate their New Year for 3 days from the 13th day of the waxing moon through to the full moon day of the 5th moon.

May

National Labour Day (1 May) - To celebrate Labour Day, a large number of Thai workers gather at Sanam Luang to join the festivities organised by the Thai government which includes cultural shows, dances and a variety of activities and other entertainment.

Coronation Day (5 May) - National Public holiday and celebrations - Anniversary of the coronation of the reigning King; King Bhumibol (Rama IX). He was crowned as the 9th king of the ruling Chakri Dynasty in 1950.

Ploughing Ceremony (11 May) - Presided over by King Bhumibol (Rama IX), this ancient Brahman ceremony is held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok to mark the official beginning of the (rice) planting season. The ceremony is also to bless the farmers of Thailand with bumper harvests in the coming year.

Ngan Bun Bang Fai - The Rocket Festival (May) - This is a festival unique to the northeast of Thailand. Mostly celebrated in Yasothon province. Bamboo rockets are launched as an annual plea to gods for plenty of rainfall in the forthcoming rainy season.

Visakha Puja Day - Occurs on the full-moon day of the 6th Thai lunar month May - This is one of the most important Buddhist holy days. On this day in three different years, the Lord Buddha was born, attained Enlightenment and entered Nirvana.

June

July

Asalha Puja Day - Occurs on the full-moon day of the 8th Thai lunar month - July? - On this day the Lord Buddha gave his first sermon to his first five disciples after his Enlightenment.

Khao Phansa Day - Occurs on 1st day of 8th waning moon (July) - The first day of the three-month period of 'Rains Retreat' when monks meditate and study the Lord Buddha's doctrine and laymen renew their commitment to follow Buddhism. Monks are required to stay within the confines of their resident temples throughout the 'Rains Retreat' period. This is also celebrated with a Candle Festival - Where the people of many provinces in the Northeast celebrate Khao Phansa Day by carrying huge, intricately carved candles to be lit continuously at the monasteries throughout the 'Rains Retreat' period. Grand celebrations take place particularly in Ubon Ratchathani province.

August

HM the Queen's Birthday - HM Queen Sirikit. (12 Aug) - Inaugurated in 1976 by the government of Thailand - To celebrate the Queen's birthday and Mother's Day, a celebration is held at Sanam Luang in front of the Grand Palace. There are free concerts, entertainment and performances given by many popular Thai artists. Buildings along Ratchadamnoen Road and other main roads throughout the country are decorated with thousands of colourful lights, flags and official portraits of the Queen.

September

King's Cup Elephant Polo Competition (Sep) - The Elephant Polo takes place annually in the resort of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province about 280 km from Bangkok - Besides the excitement of the tournament, you are promised to be enthralled by the elephants' sporting skills and intelligence.

October

Vegetarian Festival (Oct) - At this time, people of ethnic Chinese origin in Phuket and Trang provinces make thanks by abstaining from meat and animal produce. They hold processions with their god statues through the streets and observe traditional magical rites as a homage to their gods.

October Boat Races - Normally held after the end of 'Rains Retreat' on the full-moon day of the 11th Thai lunar month in October - The boat races take place in Nakhon Sawan on the Chao Phraya River in the first week of October, Nakhon Phanom in the second and third week in October, Sakon Nakhon in the second and third week in October, Surat Thani in the second and third week in October, Chumphon in the second and third week in October, and Nan in the third and last week in October. The traditional boat races are held to celebrate the Lord Buddha's return to earth after spending one season preaching and meditating in heaven.

Chulalongkorn Day (23 Oct) A public holiday to commemorate the death of King Chulalongkorn the Great (King Rama V - who reigned from 1868 to 1910)

November

The Festival of Light - Loi Krathong - On the full-moon day of the 12th Thai lunar month (Nov) - Loi Krathong is the most romantic festival of Thailand. In the evening, people gather at the waterside to launch "krathong's", lotus-shaped vessels, beautifully decorated with flowers and lit candles. Loi Krathong is a thanksgiving and worship to the Goddess of Water. Major celebrations are held in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.

The Surin Elephant Round-up (Nov) - The north eastern province of Surin is famous for its elephant round-up. The show features elephant football, elephant racing, hunting and 'war' elephants re-enacting ancient battles.

Vajiravudh Day (25 Nov) - Held annually to commemorate the death of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI - who reigned from 1910 to 1925) During his reign Thailand adopted the Buddhist Era (1 B.E. = 543 B.C.)

The River Kwai Bridge Week (Last week of Nov - first week Dec) - Held in Kanchanaburi province to commemorate the human suffering in the construction of the Death Railway in World War II. The festival features a historical exhibition, fun fair, bazaar and exciting son et luminere presentation.

December

HM the King's Birthday (5 Dec) - King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), HM the King's Birthday When huge crowds will gather at Sanam Luang and on Ratchadamnoen Road in Bangkok on the evenings of the 4th and 5th Dec. to celebrate.

Constitution Day (10 Dec) - It is to commemorate the day on which Thailand's first Constitution was promulgated in 1932 by King Prajadhipok (Rama VII).

New Year's Eve (31 Dec)




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