Thailand has a kaleidoscope of festivals. Thai people love celebrations. Festivals in Thailand can be roughly categorized into religious, social, regional and official royal ceremonies. Religious ceremonies are normally performed on important Buddhist holy days. These include Makhabuja Day, Visakhabuja Day, Asarnhabuja Day, Khao Phansa and Ok Phansa. These ceremonies, celebrated by most Thai Buddhists nationwide, are officially proclaimed as national holidays as well. The most important social ceremonies include Songkran and Loy Kratong. Both festivals are celebrated among the majority of Thai people and are even recognized worldwide.They are traditional Thai festivals. Other events are celebrated only among certain groups of people in particular regions. The uniqueness of these festivals has given them a reputation at the national level, and some are even promoted internationally. The most distinguished festivals include the Rocket Festival in Yasothon (in May), Poi Sang Long Festival in Mae Hong Son (in April), Phi Ta Khon Festival in Loei (in June), Vegetarian Festival in Phuket (in October), and Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani (in July). The government also organizes official or royal ceremonies, for example, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, HM the King’s Birthday, HM the Queen’s Birthday, Coronation Day and Constitution Day. For more details on some of the prominent festivals, see below.
Elephant Round Up Show
(November – Surin Province)
(July – nationwide)
With the arrival of the eighth lunar month in July, Thai Buddhists all over the kingdom celebrate Khao Phansa, one of the most important events in the religious calendar. Celebrations are held in Buddhist temples all over Thailand. Special highlights (most colourful) at Tung Si Muang, Ubon Ratchathani, Phra Phutthabat shrine and Saraburi.
Boat racing festivals
(September – Nationwide)
Long-boat racing is a traditional event for the Thais, who are used to living by the rivers. Although not restricted to any particular region, boat racing can be traced back to Ayutthaya, some 600 years ago. The Pichit, Phitsanulok and Narathiwat boat racing festivals are best known, but other notable provinces include Nan, Angthong, Pathum Thani, Surat Thani and Ayutthaya. Previously, boat races were held to keep the young men physically and mentally fit in preparation for invasions by rival states. Today, boat racing is considered a national sport.
(Usually in November – Nationwide)
On the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, the tide in the rivers is highest and the moon at its brightest, creating a romantic setting ideal for lovers. The Thai people choose this day to hold the ‘Loy Kratong’ festival, or the ‘festival of light.’ Loy Kratong is one of the two most recognized festivals in the country. Loy Kratong is probably the most picturesque and beautiful of all Thai celebrations. ‘Loy’ literally means ‘to float,’ while ‘kratong’ refers to the lotus-shaped receptacle which can float on the water. Originally, the kratong was made of banana leaves or the layers of the trunk of a banana tree or a spider lily plant. A kratong contains food, betel nuts, flowers, joss sticks, candle and coins. The making of a kratong is much more creative these days as many more materials are available. The Loy Kratong ritual is a simple one. One needs only to light the candles and the joss sticks, make one’s wishes and let it float away with the current of a river or a canal.