Travelling to Thailand gives you a perfect alibi as to why you need a week or two for vacation. Once you arrive at this captivating country, you will want to explore every distinct place Thailand has to offer. The welcoming hospitality of the locals will also make you feel just quite at home — just like how your Villa Manager at Samujana greets you with a warm smile. And it is also always a pleasant surprise to meet other fellow tourists who are also visiting the country.
Want to know another perfect reason to visit this lovely place? Festivals! Thailand has a number of feasts that are open to public. Because of Thailand’s long-standing history, their festivals offer a glimpse of the rich Thai heritage. The country also is a place full of diverse culture and ethnicity that let’s tourists have a fascinating interaction with the locals.
Most festivals in Thailand are cultural ceremonies but there are some festivities that are exclusive only to a certain city of region. While we can fill up a year’s worth of calendar to fit all of Thai’s holidays, here are some of Thailand’s cultural festivals and modern events.
A celebration that is observed in different Asian countries such as southern China, Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and in certain location in India. For the Thai’s, Songkran is considered one of their biggest festivals.
Songkran is the New Year for Thailand which happens every April 13 to 15. However, for other places in Thailand, the merrymaking can continue up to a week! As a national holiday, it was adopted from a Buddhist festival. The etymology of the Songkran comes from a Sanskrit term “saṃkrānti” which when translated means astrological passage. Thailand had a long-standing cultural relations with the Indians and slowly adopted Songkran from them. The Indians believes that April is the month where new life springs and naturally is the beginning of a new year. Additionally, this celebration signals the end of the hottest month in Thailand, and the start of annual rains. Thai’s would travel back home to spend time with family and friends, they would also visit local temples to pray. Cleansing ritual is also done by washing their Buddha statues and doing an annual house cleaning.
This cultural event was soon mixed with livelier customs. Naturally fun-loving Thai’s welcome their New Year with a splash! A battle zone of entertainment, people of all ages would throw water at each other using different kinds of water guns, hoses, and even buckets. There are those even use ice water! Foams of bubbles would form as people make their way soaking other festival goers. But there is a good reason as to why they celebrate New Year with water. For Thai’s, splashing water is symbolically attributed to cleanse misfortunes from the past year.
LOI KRATHONG (The Festival of Light)
Dubbed as the most beautiful festival in Thailand, Loi Krathong is one of the most important occasions in the country (though not an official public holiday). It is a two-day event normally celebrated during November with the exact dates constantly changing because of the Thai lunar calendar.
With Loi Krathong also being called as the Festival of Light, hundreds of candle lights would be reflected on the calm river that acts a mirror; people silently utter their wishes and prayers and then slowly push their boats to float down the waters. “Loi” which means “to float”, while the word “Krathong” is a Thai term for a specially designed floating structure that acts as a boat for the candle. Elaborately designed, “Krathong” is made from a banana trunk (or the cross-section of the plant) and is ornamented with beautiful flowers and banana leaves with towering heights. Incense sticks and candles are also placed on top of the boat.
However, there are other variations of Loi Krathong being used nowadays. Among the loveliest would be the ones made from banana blossom and lotus. There are other boats made from bread formed to look like a traditional Loi Krathong. Another design is to replace the banana trunk with a Styrofoam (which is a less eco-friendly choice to make).
Those who will be attending this occassion will also witness other joyous events, with Chiang Mai’s sky lanterns being the most popular one. There are beauty pageants and parades with floats designed as large krathongs. The parade participants would flaunt their regal outfits of traditional Thai costumes or would project their Thai mystical being alter-ego. The origins of Loi Krathong is a vague one with different versions as to why Thailand has this festival. Some believe that this may also have Brahmin roots and may have started by Nang Noppamas or Tao Sri Chulalak during the 14th century in Sukhothai, the ancient capital of Thailand. There is also another story explaining that Loi Krathong is a ritual to pay homage to the goddess of water, Pra Mae Khongkha.
BIG MOUNTAIN MUSIC FESTIVAL
The music festival craze has finally caught Thailand’s entertainment scene. With several western and other Asian counterparts, the Thai’s love for music has established this festival as one of the largest concert scenes in Thailand. What started out as a simple gathering of performers is now on its seven year! Big Mountain Music Festival got its name from the original venue called Khao Yai or Big Mountain. As an outdoor event held every December, the Big Mountain Music Festival attracts up to 70,000 music lovers [based on their 2014 show dates]. Such enormous festivity is even made more impressive with its wide swath of locals and foreign artists. Since its inception numerous indie, pop, dance, electronica and rock acts have dominated the stage. But staying loyal to their rich culture, Big Mountain Music Festival also features Thai’s own music and stars — such as Polycat, Bodyslam, Da Endorphine, and Paradox. As shared by Yuthana “Ted” Boonorm, managing director and creator of the festival, “BMMF is the main music festival of Thailand, so it should represent how the music scene was in the country that year. It should also reflect the cultural scene overall in Thailand for the year.” The festival is also an entertainment for all ages with child-friendly inflatables, eye-catching light shows, and amazing fireworks. Big Mountain Music Fest is a testament to the growing music industry in Thailand, and is one of the must-see festival in the country.
CHIANG MAI FLOWER FESTIVAL
Called as the “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai maintains its title with its annual Flower Festival. Celebrated every February, at the time when winter is nearing its end and all the flowers and plants are in synchronised full bloom, Chiang Mai is immediately transformed into a wonderland with this colourful and creative event. The Flower Festival, which has been observed for more than 30 years, is considered a major event by the kingdom. As the name suggests, hundreds of flowers paint the city with different hues and shades, while the fragrant scent blankets the whole place with refreshing floral bouquet. One of the central locations of the event is the Suan Buak Hat Park. The park, covered in scaled-down trees and plants, lush displays of flower arrangements, and surrounded by Thai orchids is a spectacle to behold. This is also where each specimen is judged according to its aesthetic and form. A true splendour to behold, this February occasion is an exhibit of fresh and vibrant florals!
KOH SAMUI REGATTA
Thailand is indeed abundant with natural beauty, and this includes the sparkling waters surrounding the country. Aside from land-based festivals, Thailand also has cultural attractions that takes place on water such as: sailing, cruising, diving, and boating Sailing, a part of the kingdom’s history, brought the birth of local regatta competitions in pursuit of a more adventure-centric activity. Eventually, these local events turned international as other countries join in the competition. Koh Samui, one of the beautiful islands of Thailand, hosts an annual regatta every month of May with participants from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. Since its beginning in 2002, with only 11 boats, Koh Samui Regatta continues to attract the best yachts from across Asia and neighbouring continents. The island is a perfect venue with great climate condition for sailing, great after-parties, in-land activities, and scenic views. Indeed, Koh Samui Regatta is a week of camaraderie, hospitality, fun recreation, and competitive sailing.