Thailand’s festivals are some of the best in the world during the year that both Thai people and tourists can’t wait to celebrate.
Most Thai festivities are rooted in the traditions, cultures, and beliefs of the ancient Thai people from the past. Since then, some festivals have changed or evolved with the modern era. They were adapted to blend into the lives of today’s people and pop cultures.
We can easily say that visiting Thai festivals is the most exciting way to explore Thai culture. These are 10 festivals in Thailand you shouldn’t miss to fully experience the authentic Thai culture!
1. Bosang Umbrella & Sankampaeng Craft Festival
Where: Bo-Sang Handicraft Centre, Chiang Mai
Bosang umbrella is one of the most popular souvenirs in Chiang Mai. It is very popular for both Thais and foreign tourists. Bosang Umbrellas are different from the regular umbrellas.
It has a unique shape which is made with paper but still holds a strong structure, and surprisingly its colors hardly come off.
Every January, the Bo-Sang Handicraft Centre will operate the Bosang Umbrella Exhibition by decorating Sankampaeng road with countless umbrellas.
Bosang umbrellas are sold in various sizes (44 inches, 20 inches, 17 inches, 14 inches, and 10 inches). If you are looking for a special souvenir in Chiang Mai, you should head to the Bosang Umbrella & Sankampaeng Craft Festival in Chiang Mai!
2. Chinese New Year – January/ February
When: January~February (First day of the Chinese lunar calendar)
Where: Chinatown, Bangkok
In the past, there were groups of Chinese immigrants that moved into the northern part of Thailand. These groups of Chinese have spread all over Thailand and expanded their influence generation by generation.
We can find an expansive Chinese culture within Thai culture. One way to know that is the fact that there are many half Thai/half Chinese people in Thailand. Chinese New Year is the most important festival for Chinese people in Thailand. They celebrate this festival for 3 days, which are Buying day, Worship day, and Observance day.
The highlighted event of Chinese New Year in Thailand is the Dragon Parade in Chinatown. The parade will walk along Chinatown street, and it will stop at the center of Chinatown for the Lion dancing show.
The local people will wear red clothes and fill their houses with red decorations because they believe that red is a lucky color.
They also put some food on their front doors and set off firecrackers to scare away the mythical demons from coming into their homes.
3. Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Where: The Royal Park Rajapruek, Chiang Mai
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival or Flora Festival is one of the most popular festivals for flower lovers.
Each year, the Royal Park Rajapruek exhibits different concepts of floral decorations. The festival is held from the 1st of November to the end of February every year.
The highlight of the Flora Festival is the exhibition of rare species of flowers from all over the world among the 470 acres of the festival.
Besides the flower park, this festival also includes the separated 10 exhibitions in different areas and various pop-up stores which offers the seasonal local products such as fruits, plants, and herbal drinks. This place is a real paradise on earth!
4. Water Festival (Songkran)
Where: Every city in Thailand
The most important and well known Thai festival for worldwide travelers is the Songkran festival!
In fact, Songkran is not only a yearly festival, but it’s also the Thai traditional New Year.
This festival will be celebrated every year from the 13th to the 15th of April. It is also known as Family Day and Elder Day. For those who are working in the city but their homes are in the countryside, they will be allowed to travel back to their hometowns for their yearly holiday.
The activities that Thai people usually do in the morning are participating in the Buddhist worship ceremony.
In the afternoon, because every April is the hottest month throughout the entire year, Thai teenagers will play with water and liquid powder at the meeting points of each area. Songkran’s way of throwing water also means washing away the bad luck so the good luck will enter in the present year.
The popular spots for water fighting in Bangkok are Silom area, Khao San street, and Siam area.
Moreover, in the crowded cities such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya, and Phuket, there are also famous spots for water fighting as well.
Although the festival is officially held for up to 3 days, you can visit the other parts of Thailand that celebrate this festival throughout the entire week. So prepare your water gun and have fun!
5. Buffalo Racing Festival (Wing Kwai)
Where: Baan Bueng District, Chon Buri
Buffalo Racing Festival is another yearly festival that has been passed down generation to generation for over 100 years.
The buffalo is considered another national animal of Thailand, followed by the elephant. In the past, Thai people cultivated farmland by using buffalo as the vehicle.
Thai people honor the buffalo’s power and durability. The local farmers teach their children to take care of the buffalos because the buffalos help them produce the rice.
Thai farmers believe that the buffalo racing tradition is about the faith and black magic. If anyone’s buffalo is sick, the buffalo owners should bring their buffaloes to vow with the god. After their buffalos get well from the disease, the owner has to race their buffalos to redeem their vow with the gods. As the time passed, even if their buffaloes aren’t sick, the farmers hold the racing event to prevent the disease in advance.
There are so many stories that have been told about this racing tradition. The vow is just one of the stories that are locally spread by word of mouth.
Nowadays, the Buffalo Racing Festival is much more about dressing buffalos with the beautiful traditional silk and fabric. The buffalos’ owners will also dress up into the fancy clothes and perform the entertainment shows such as singing and dancing.
6. Vegetarian Festival
Where: Every city (Most highlighted places: Bangkok and Phuket)
If you are a vegetarian tourist, visiting Thailand in October is the perfect time for you as you will enjoy eating various vegetarian food everywhere in the country!
The signature of Vegetarian Festival is the yellow flag. The yellow flag is the symbol of the restaurants that offer vegetarian dishes. However, most of the restaurants in Thailand will provide the extra vegetarian dishes from their menu in this season.
As there are many Chinese and half Chinese in Thailand, the Vegetarian Festival is another Thai festival affected by Chinese culture.
Thai people call this occasion Kin Jay. Jay means to fast after the midday and exclude all meats from every dish in Chinese.
However, the general festival attendees still eat after the midday but only stop eating meats.
The purpose of Vegetarian Festival is to stay pure from the body to soul. Some Chinese eat vegetarian food for sacrifice to their God, and some Thai teenagers turn into vegetarians for health reasons.
The recommended places to visit during the Vegetarian Festival are Chinatown in Bangkok and Kathu Shrine in Phuket. At Chinatown, the event will be even more festive. The various pop-up stores are lined up along the Chinatown street. There are dragons dancing and other performances as well.
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The event at Kathu Shrine in Phuket will be more focused on the ceremony and worship. The local people usually wear white dresses and do their sacrifice ceremony together at the shrine. The shrine will provide the vegetarian meals to all attendees for 10 days.
7. Lopburi Monkey Banquet
When: November (the last Sunday of November)
Where: Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat temple, Lopburi
Lopburi is one of the Thai provinces that is well known for its monkey attraction. In Lopburi, Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat temple (Wat Yai) is the most popular spot to explore the ancient Buddhist temple and meet the numerous monkeys at the same time.
Lopburi people consider these monkeys as the disciples of Phra Kal (Dark God) who protect Lopburi from bad things and also believe that these monkeys are the lucky animals which bring prosperity to their families.
In 1989, Lopburi people made a sacrifice to the God and held the banquet for the disciple monkeys. This event has been held every year since then.
The Lopburi Monkey Banquet Festival in this period is adapted a bit to be more touristy. Every year, the attraction is decorated with the different themes, and it also provides many entertainments and pop-up stores for both Thais and foreigner tourists to enjoy.
If you go to Lopburi province, you will see monkeys everywhere even on the hill road. Keep in your mind that you shouldn’t stop your car and feed the road monkeys! These monkeys are wild animals which come down to the city to find food and they aren’t familiar with humans as the temple monkeys do. Some tourists stop their cars to feed the monkey along the road, but these wild monkeys may attack those tourists.
If you stop your car without locking the door, these genius monkeys can also go into your car and steal your properties as well. Going straight to the banquet and watching the temple monkeys will be a smart choice for you.
8. Loy Krathong
Where: Every city in Thailand
Another significant day for Thai people is Loy Krathong day! Thai people believe floating (Loy) a lotus-shaped vessel (Krathong) in the river is the way of apologizing to the goddess of water for their sin in the past. The local people also believe that floating Krathong prevent the badness from their families.
They usually decorate Krathong with the banana leaf, joss sticks, candle, and flowers. You can easily buy Krathong on every corner of the city.
Loy Krathong day will occur every December in full moon night. This traditional day is one of the most entertaining festivals because there are various performances happening during the festival.
The highlighted part beside from floating Krathong is the Noppamas Queen Contest. Noppamas is a name of the beautiful and legendary figure in Sukhothai period. She was the first person who started floating a decorated Krathong in the river.
You will also enjoy the firework shows and temple fairs around the city. This temple fair will be held only for this occasion.
In Bangkok, the leading hotels and amusement parks organize their Loy Krathong Festival and the Krathong contest as the major annual event.
For those who are planning to visit Thailand, the Loy Krathong Festival is an annual festival you should not miss. Everyone is invited to take part and share the joy and happiness.
9. Full Moon Party in Island
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When: Entire Year (Only full-moon night)
Where: Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan Island
For those who have a goal to enjoy a party on the beach while cuddled by the moonrise at night, you cannot miss Full Moon Party!
On every full moon night, party lovers from all over the world will gather on this party island called Koh Phangan.
At night, the whole island will be turned into a night pub on the beach, and the moonlight and some neon signs will be the only lights you can see. The powerful EDM sound and fire shows will blow away your night!
Even though the full moon festival is located in the public place, you also need to pay 100 baht/ person for an entry fee to the local community due to the cost of cleaning up.
The Full Moon Party is literally held every full moon night all year long. If you want to visit the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, be sure to read our guide before you go! 👉 Guide to the Full Moon Party 2018
10. Music Festivals
Thailand is one of the music festival leaders in Asia. There are numerous big music festivals in various music styles in Thailand.
The music festivals are more of contemporary cultural events, unlike all traditional festivals above. Each music event operates on different themes, and here are the most recommended Music Festivals in Thailand.
1) Wonderfruit Music and Arts Festival
Wonderfruit Festival is well known as a sustainable and eco-conscious festival. It is not the festival that produces pollution in our mother earth.
This festival is pretty much a hippie haven. You can see many people wearing a dreadlock, Native American headdress, or kaftan dresses at the festival.
Wonderfruit is a good festival to go with your child too. There are also vibrant activities in this event as well as the main music stage. There are also themed tents which house everything from pop-up clothes shops, restaurants, salons and even Yoga classes.
For those who are looking for chilling and good vibes, this Wonderfruit Music and Arts Festival will definitely match your need!
2) S2O Festival
When: April (13th-15th)
Where: Live Park Rama9, Bangkok
With the S2O Festival, you will not only have fun with the great music but also enjoy the splashing water in almost every 10 minutes!
The S2O Festival is held for 3 days on Songkran Festival (13th-15th April). This festival allows you to enjoy non-stop electronic dance music with the water splashing throughout the night!
The festival comes with the outstanding line-ups such as Afrojack, Sidney Samson, Wolf Pack and local DJs.
If you are looking for the splash, fun party, and world-class DJs, you will never get disappointed at S2O Festival!
- Royal Park Rajapruek Official Website
- Suradach Goonduang
- Nop Noppharat
- Wonderfruit Music and Arts Festival Official Website
- S2O Official Website