Festival feast

Source:Global Times Published: 2013-11-10 21:13:01

Everyone loves festivals, and Thais are no different. Throughout the year, Thailand celebrates many festivals, some religious, some for animals, some for the nation's revered monarchs past and present. Apart from the joy and excitement of the celebrations, festivals also provide insight for visitors about the country's culture and traditions.

His Majesty the King's Birthday

This national celebration in honor of the current King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej (also known as Rama IX), takes place annually on December 5.

The King's Birthday invites Thai people to show their affection and reverence for their monarch. All public structures and homes in Thailand are elaborately decorated with yellow flags and lights, representing the color traditionally identified with the king. The capital, Bangkok, is the scene of displays of pageantry, its streets adorned with thousands of flowers.

Traditionally, Thais wear yellow on December 5 in honor of the king. The King's Birthday is also Father's Day in Thailand. Thais mark the occasion by giving their father or grandfather a gift and wishing them well.

When: December 5

Where: Nationwide


Thai New Year is a national public holiday and religious observance. It's also celebrated with huge water fights across the country. It's these that make Songkran the best-known Thai festival around the world, with streets filling up with people getting soaked and throwing water on others. The ritual represents cleansing, renewal and being blessed.

As a Buddhist festival, Songkran isn't just about getting wet: people will also clean their houses and wear new clothes to attend temples, giving food to monks and praying.

When: April 13-15

Where: Nationwide

Loi Krathong

"Loi" means "floating," while "Krathong" refers to a lotus-shaped container containing flowers or other decorations.

On the evening of the festival, thousands of people throughout the country head to local rivers, light candles in their krathong, then launch it to float with the current of the water. While performing this ritual, participants make a wish, offer thanks, and let their sins wash away.

In Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, over 10,000 people will also release sky lanterns to celebrate the festival.

Seeing the rivers and skies illuminated with candles is a truly beautiful spectacle, making Loi Krathong one of Thailand's most popular festivals with locals and visitors alike.

When: November

Where: Nationwide

Surin Elephant Round-up

Dedicated to that enduring symbol of Thailand, the elephant, this festival usually takes place on the third weekend of November in Surin Province, northeast Thailand. It was first held in 1960.

The people of Surin were traditionally excellent at capturing elephants in Cambodia, then training them as working animals. The elephant's decreasing economic importance has forced elephant handlers to turn to entertainment to make a living.

The festival consists of a series of performances, including an elephant procession, a breakfast banquet for the elephants, and other events displaying the animals' strength and skill, such as football games and a tug of war.

When: November

Where: Surin Province

Phi Ta Khon

Better known as the "Ghost Festival," Phi Ta Khon reflects Thai beliefs about ghosts and spirits. The festival is held to worship spirits, the protectors of the village, and to ask for plentiful rain for the coming farming season. The festival's date is not fixed, but falls between March and July each year, lasting for three days.

During the ceremonies, young men dress as spirits in colorful costumes and masks, parading a sacred image of the Buddha amidst scenes of dancing and rejoicing.

When: March to July

Where: Dan Sai, Loei Province

Li Fei, employee of a foreign trade company, China: I remember the first Wan Piyamaharat, or Chulalongkorn Day, I spent in Thailand, in 2012. I went to work as usual, but found nobody in the office. Then I remembered that day was a festival and that we had the day off. After I walked out of my company, I suddenly realized why there were so many huge portraits, flowers and decorations. Thai people love the great king Chulalongkorn (also known as Rama V). I could feel the depth of their emotions. Thailand has many festivals and people have many days off. But they would not move the day of rest to create long holidays as Chinese people do.

Zhang Ziqian, student, China: I went to Bangkok last November and spent the Loi Krathong festival there. I intended to launch a krathong with my girlfriend by the river, but we got caught in a traffic jam. Bangkok was really getting into a great party mood to celebrate this traditional festival, which was very exciting, but our car couldn't move at all. At last, we abandoned our car and went to a swimming pool to release our krathong, which was unusual of course, but still interesting and memorable.

Nick Char, student, USA: I was there for Loi Krathong, which has become commoditized. People buy as big of a krathong as they can afford.

The bigger it is, the more stuff on it, the better - it brings more good luck.

Loi Krathong has also turned into a thing for couples. You get a krathong with the person you are dating, light the incense together, and push it out. You can get the original, tiny ones of course - but nobody wants them. If you are doing it with your girl, of course, you're trying to get the biggest krathong with the houses, incense, flowers and candles. They are really quite beautiful. There is a lot of craftsmanship that goes into them.

Fan Xiaolei, designer, China: Bangkok is a city of fashion and great design, so traditional festivals there are more special. When I was there in April for Songkran, the most fun areas were Khao San Road and the fashion center of Silom. Old people, little children, local residents and foreign tourists all joined in the water fight. I like Bangkok more because of this festival, which makes the hot weather cooler and happier.

Posted in: Metro Beijing, Surrender to Tempthaition

blog comments powered by Disqus