Thailand never fails to amaze travelers with its stunning beaches, fabulous food, beautiful temples, regal elephants, and charming floating markets. What you may not know is that the land of smiles also boasts some of the most colorful festivals in Southeast Asia. Thailand boasts one of the highest numbers of public holidays in the world and with so many magical Thailand festivals taking place throughout the year, it’s easy to see why. Each month offers an exciting opportunity to celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. From significant revelries like Songkran that is celebrated across the country to region-specific festivals like the Surin Elephant Festival, there’s plenty for eager tourists to take in.
Check out a few of Thailand’s most popular and colorful festivals:
Songkran is a national holiday that marks the Thai New Year. It takes place on 13th April every year although festivities stretch for at least a few days. This is a festival where people clean their houses, pour water over Buddha statues, and drench each other to symbolise cleaning away sins of the past year. They also pay tribute to elderly members of the family and their ancestry. Over time, the festival has turned into a massive, country-wide water fight: people store water in whatever vessels they have like buckets, water balloons, and squirt guns to splash other people – with good intentions, of course.
The evening of Loy Krathong is one of the most picturesque festivals in Thailand and is celebrated in every corner of the country. It’s when people gather around lakes, rivers and canals to pay respects to the goddess of water by releasing beautiful lotus-shaped rafts, decorated with candles, incense and flowers onto the water. As the rafts drift away they carry with them a clipping of the owner’s hair or nails to symbolise letting go of bad luck and negative thoughts. Many major Loy Krathong events will host parades, beauty contests, firework displays and the customary market food stalls.
The rocket festival is observed in the north-east of Thailand. It is one of the festivals in Thailand which is very popular amongst the farming communities as the rockets are meant to encourage the gods to bless them with plentiful rains. Locals make elaborate rockets that can be 20 feet in length. The rockets are first paraded around the communities before being launched into the sky. The person whose rocket soared highest usually wins a prize and those people whose rockets failed to launch are playfully thrown into a mud-bath as punishment. There is plenty of live folk music here and merriment marked by drinking local rice wine.
Wonderfruit is an annual arts, music and lifestyle festival that takes place at The Fields at Siam Country Club near Pattaya. With an emphasis on participation and inclusion plus sustainability and social responsibility, the event features musical performances, art installations, workshops and talks, plus banquets by renowned chefs. Essentially a four-day four-night non-stop party, the festival plays host to a hybrid of exciting and stimulating events. It is the country’s premier music and arts festival, taking after similar events in the UK and US – think Glastonbury or Coachella and you’re on the right lines.