Throughout the year, Thailand celebrates a number of festivals They are some of the most vibrant, colorful events that attract travelers to participate. From the Thai New Year festival of Songkran to the spectacular parade of the Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival.
Located on the peninsula of southeast Asia, Thailand is 19 times smaller than the US and about twice as big as the UK. With a population of about 70 million people, the main religion is Buddhism, and many of its festivals are celebrated nationwide.
Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival – July
This festival celebrates Buddhist Lent and marks the start of a three-month retreat from July to October in accordance with the lunar calendar. Ubon Ratchathani is one of the largest cities in Thailand that hosts elaborate parades displaying carved candles. The festival takes place over two main days showcasing huge candle carvings scenes from Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. It also features the sights and sounds of Thailand with traditionally dressed dancers and music played on drums and strings accompanying the floats. It is a very popular festival attracting not only tourists but thousands of Thai people. On the last night, there is a competition to find the best-carved candle display, which is kept in the National Museum for all to enjoy after the festival.
Yi Peng – the Lantern Festival, November
Make your way to Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar to experience the magnificent Yi Peng Lantern Festival. It sees the release of thousands of paper lanterns into the sky. Celebrated by the full moon, it originates in Buddhism from a candle-carrying bird that once visited Gautama Buddha. The sky lanterns (khom lai) are released to encourage good luck and fortune for the coming year. Visitors can take part in the mass launch at no cost just before the festival begins. Otherwise, during the 3-day festival, lanterns can be bought. There are several other things to see, such as parades, fireworks and traditional dance shows.
Boon Bang Fai Rocket Festival, May
Head to Yasothon in the northeast of Thailand, where the Boon Bang Fai festival occurs before the rainy season begins. The ancient festival takes place over 3 days and is about sending rockets to the rain gods to encourage water for planting crops. Celebrated in May, it attracts a crowd of 50,000 people. Most rockets are made for fun from bamboo, wood or plastic and decorated in bright colors. Real ones are big and even have gunpowder in them, ready to launch. Visitors can watch the spectacular floats that look like real temples covered in gold. There are also parades with traditional Thai dancing and drummers. Look for the traditional costumes, where some men cover their bodies with white powder and wear frog masks in honor of the Toad King Phaya Khang Khok. At the end of the festival, rockets are launched with the highest meaning the best crops will be gained, and for those whose rockets don’t launch, the team is tossed into mud.
Songkran – Thai New Year, April
You can fly straight into Don Mueang International Airport (DMK), Bangkok to make your way to Songkran. This is the biggest festival in Thailand and celebrates the start of the Thai New Year. It is a water festival that represents washing away the old year to welcome the new. Scented water is used on the images in temples.
However, it is when the festival is taken to the streets – and specifically Khao San Road in Bangkok where tourists and locals celebrate the water festival. Known as the biggest water fight, DJ’s spur on the activities with music, with water guns pumping, music pumping, and adrenal pumping, there’s not much else you can ask for! Just walk you’re your water gun, and goggles and get ready to get wet.
Loy Krathong – Festival of Lights, November
Head to the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok in the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar to experience Loy Krathong, known as the festival of lights. It is carded as the second largest festival in Thailand, and while it is similar to the Yi Peng festival, this one sees candlelit vessels (krathongs) placed on lakes, rivers, and canals. It is a way of paying respect to the goddess of water. The krathongs are made from bread, banana leaves or lotus.
Visitors can expect to partake in floating their krathrong either by buying it from street vendors or some hotels will provide them for guests. Add some coins to your krathrong before setting it down on the water so not only will you get good luck but money and wealth