A colorful and vibrant country with a diverse culture, the Thai kingdom celebrates numerous festivals each year. Friendly and cheerful locals get together to rejoice with good food, music, friends and family and engage in traditional practices handed down by older generations. Experience the cultural traditions and lifestyle of Thailand and make sure you don’t miss out on the fun and festivities with this list of the most intriguing festivals in Thailand.
1. Songkran Festival – Engage in Water Wars
One of the most important festivals in the country, Songkran is a celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. During the day, locals visit temples, offer delicious home cooked meals to Buddhist monks and pour water on small Buddha statues, a symbolic gesture representing the cleansing and absolution of one’s sins. Known for its water festival, this holiday is especially cherished by young people as they splash water on each other with buckets, water filled balloons and water guns. Most major streets in Thailand are closed to traffic to allow numerous young people to use them safely as arenas for water fights. The festival also involves lavish traditional parades with intricately decorated floats, dancers in colourful clothing and a spectacular fireworks display, which the locals believe fends off misfortune.
When: 13-15th April every year
Where: Almost everywhere in Thailand
2. Yee Peng Festival – Make a Wish with Floating Sky Lanterns
Often referred to as the festival of lights, the Yee Peng festival is the most mesmerizing festival in northern Thailand. It occurs in the twelfth month of the lunar calendar and coincides with another festival celebrated by the rest of the country, called Loi Krathong. While most of Thailand celebrates with floating lights on lakes and rivers, northern Thailand celebrates the Yee Peng festival by placing lights into sky lanterns and releasing them into the sky as they pray for their wishes to come true. Legend is that if your lantern disappears from your sight before the fire goes out, your bad luck and misfortune floats away into the air. Sharing good fortune is also an important part of this festival, as, at times, people place their address in the lantern and anyone who finds it can claim money from the sender. Indulge in the captivating beauty of hundreds of lanterns floating away into the night sky here.
When:Usually around November
Where: Chiang Mai province
3. Phi Ta Khon Festival – Dance with Ghosts
The Phi Ta Khon festival, or the Ghost Festival of Thailand, is a reflection of the Lanna (Northern) Thai culture and their beliefs in spirits and the supernatural. Held in the province of Loei in northern Thailand, this festival takes places over the course of three days and involves everything from locals dressed as long-nosed ghosts in colourful costumes to dance contests and quiet sermons. On the first and most important day of the festival, locals engage in rituals to invite Phra U-pakut, the spirit of the Mun river, hoping that it will protect them from danger and misfortune. It also involves a parade of people dressed in colorful clothing made of rice husks and coconut leaves and hats made from rice steamers and patchwork. The inspiration for this celebration comes from an old tale where, in one of his past lives as a prince, Buddha made a long journey and was presumed dead. When he finally returned, the people rejoiced and celebrated with such rowdiness as to wake the dead. The second day of the festival is celebrated with costumes, dance contests and numerous food stalls selling delicious snacks and on the third, the Buddhist monks hold special sermons.
When: Between May-July
Where: Dan Sai, Loei province
4. Buffalo Racing Festival – Cheer for Buffaloes
Held annually for more than 140 years, the Buffalo racing festival is the most celebrated cultural tradition of the Chonburi province in Thailand. It originated as a way to express appreciation to the buffaloes after they worked for the farmers throughout the year. Today, this festival includes a number of interesting activities such as the most healthy buffalo contest and buffalo fashion contest, reminding the farmers of the importance of their buffaloes. In preparation for the main race event, the buffaloes go through strict training regimes and special diets to ensure they’re in good condition to compete. This festival also involves the Miss Buffalo pageant, a title that may not sound flattering but is esteemed and strongly desires by young women in Chonburi. As with any other Thai festival, food stalls, rides and music concerts are plentiful in the evenings.
Where: Chonburi province
5. Full Moon Parties – Party Hard!
The Full Moon Parties are the biggest celebrations in Thailand initiated by foreign travellers and take place in Koh Phangan on the full moon day of every month. The first foreigners who partied here discovered that the Haad Rin Beach in Koh Phangan had the most beautiful full moon view and invited a few friends over to join them. Today, around 10,000 to 30,000 locals, tourists, and expats party on the beach with drinks, dancing and music playing over the 12 advanced sound systems on the beach. Jugglers and fire-eaters entertain the crowds, while numerous food stalls selling delicious Thai and international food keep the folks satiated and brilliant fireworks are displayed throughout the night.
When: Every month on full moon night
Where: Had Rin Beach, Koh Phangan
Thailand has some of the most magical, mesmerizing and fascinating festivals. Plan your trip to Thailand and experience these festivals now!