Thailand has quite a number of festivals and celebrations that are a must to experience first hand. Get to witness the unique, intriguing culture, and identity of the Thai people through the following popular Thailand festivals and celebrations that you mustn’t miss.
1. Songkran or the Thai New Year Water Festival
The Songkran Festival is a definite must in Thailand. You’d really have to join the festivities to be able to understand and grasp the enormity of the spectacle. It’s a 3-day festival that celebrates the sun moving into Aries, typically on the 13th of April. Songkran means “move into” in Sanskrit and it’s a celebration deeply rooted in the Buddhist religion.
The festival is marked by water throwing of all kinds, believed to be an act that symbolizes the cleansing of the body and spirit of ills and misfortunes. During the 3-day festival, there will be firecrackers, Buddha parades, and lots of water throwing.
2. Chinese New Year
About 10% of Thai people are of Chinese descent and the Chinese New Year is a big celebration across the country, but specifically in the Yaowaraj district of Bangkok. The official Chinatown of the capital, the streets of this city district are filled with crowds, celebrations, and plenty of Chinese banquets. Dragon dances, firecrackers, and other festivities are held during this day.
In most Chinese family households, members take a leave off work and celebrate with their families over banquets and ceremonies. Chinese establishments such as shops and restaurants also offer promotions and specials during this day.
3. Loy Krathong or Festival of the Light
“Loy” means float and “krathong” means basket. Celebrated on the first full moon of November, Thai people all over the country buy krathong or make it themselves. Krathong is like a small boat made of banana leaves, decorated with flowers, and a candle is placed in the middle. Lighted, the krathong is made to float in nearby rivers or ponds, to present as an offering to the spirit of the water, believed to wash away the sins of the person.
In big cities, you’ll find outdoor concerts, beauty pageants, and many other activities being held together with this festival.
4. The King’s Birthday
The King’s Birthday is a public holiday and held on December 5 each year. Since the King was born on a Monday, people all over the country wear yellow to show respect and honor since yellow is the color associated with this day. Throughout the year, when Thai people want to show honor to the King, they also wear yellow.
Several activities are held on this day, which included fireworks displays and candle-lighting ceremonies. The King’s Birthday is also Father’s Day in Thailand, and families get to honor their own fathers during this day.
5. Vegetarian Festival (Phuket)
One of the most intriguing and exciting festivals in Thailand, the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket is a 9-day celebration world-famous for spectacles of self-mutilation. Based on the Chinese community’s belief that refraining from eating meat and other stimulants on the 9th month of the Chinese calendar will give people good health and well-being, the celebration is held every October in Phuket all over the vicinity of the 6 Chinese temples on the island.
The most exciting activities are those of various and often gruesome ceremonies held to please the gods. Firewalking, body piercing, and other self-mortification activities are done. The most famous are men and women who puncture their cheeks with knives, skewers, and other items believed to invoke the gods to protect them from harm.
6. The Queen’s Birthday
The Queen’s Birthday is also a public holiday in Thailand, as well as the country’s date for Mother’s Day. Since the Queen was born on a Friday, where the color associated with the day is light blue, Thai people wear the color to show honor and respect to the Queen.
Since it’s a public holiday, people typically celebrate long weekends with their families.
On your next visit to Thailand, consider including any of these top 6 popular Thai festivals and celebrations to completely immerse yourself and truly appreciate the magnificence of the Thai culture.