North - Festivals and events

Chiang Mai

Umbrella Festival


This festival is usually held in the 3rd week of January in the village of Bo Sang where hundreds of pretty local girls hold umbrellas in a very colorful parade and beauty pageant.

It origins are purely cultural and is as much for the local people as it is for visitors. Over the years the tiny village has become synonymous with umbrella making and is now a well known tourist attraction in itself.

Wood Carving Fair


The Wood Carving fair and festival with its cultural origins is held over a four-day period during the last weekend of January in the village of Ban Tawai in the Hang Dong district of Chiang Mai.

Flower Festival

flowerThe colorful Chiang Mai Flower Festival is held each year over the first weekend of the month of February. This is the time when flowers are at their best - at the end of the cool season. The high point of the festival is the magnificent parade that is held on the Saturday morning with its colorful and highly decorated floats.

These are covered with literally hundreds of beautiful flowers with elegant northern Thai beauty queens sitting amongst them. Another part of the festival are the breathtaking flowerbeds of the public gardens. These are awash with color and special displays are maintained until the end of Sunday.

Makha Bucha Festival

This Buddhist festival is held in all temples in the province during the full moon of the third lunar month. It celebrates a particular famous sermon given by the lord Buddha.

Tin Chock Festival


Tin chock designThis small cultural festival is held to celebrate the local weaving traditions of the area. It usually commences in the first or second week of February and is held in the village of Mae Chaem.

Songkran Festival


One of the high spots of the Thai calendar is the annual New Year celebration, or Songkran, which falls on or around April 13, when the sun moves into Aries, and lasts for three days or more. The word 'Songkran' originates from the Sanskrit meaning 'beginning of the solar year'. The holiday-loving Thais therefore get to celebrate New Year three times each year: the Western New Year on January 1, the Chinese New Year in February and the Thai New Year in April.

Traditionally, Thais visit temples at this time of year to offer food to the monks and to participate in bathing ceremonies for Buddha images. At home, young people pour scented water into the hands of their parents and elders as a mark of respect and to receive the blessing of the older folk.

Another custom is the releasing of small fish into rivers and canals. This merit-making act is thought to come from the old practice of collecting small fish from dried out pools, to keep and later release back into the wild.

These days, Songkran has turned into a water-throwing funfest, in which anyone and everyone is liable to get thoroughly drenched-a blessed relief in this, the hottest season of the year.

The water-throwing custom have come from the mythical belief that sea serpents or 'naga' bring on the rains by spouting water from the sea. Water throwing may therefore have been a rainmaking custom to guarantee ample water for next year's crops.

soaking gangs at Chiang MaiSongkran is celebrated throughout Thailand but the wettest and wildest celebrations are at Chiang Mai in the North. Ambushers, armed with tubs of water and water pistols wait at street corners for the unsuspecting or cruise the streets in pick-ups looking for a victim or a rival gang to soak. This water throwing lasts for three whole days - and even longer in the adjacent countryside.

On the first day, firecrackers are let off at dawn and the people of Chiang Mai spring clean their houses. In the afternoon a parade of Buddha images from many Chiang Mai temples goes from the railway station to Wat Phra Singh. People toss lustral water scented with perfume and flowers to bathe the images as they pass along the streets.

On the second day there are no ceremonies but in the afternoon sand is placed in the temple compound as a symbolic return of the sand carried out on the soles of shoes and feet of the people. The sand is made into a small chedi for the next day.

The third day is the start of the New Year and early in the morning is a good time to visit the temples and watch people in traditional costume bringing offerings. Outside people place flags in the sand chedi as well as symbolic sticks of support under the Bo trees to bring good luck. In the afternoon the main government organizations hold a procession from the Yupparat School to honor the Chiang Mai governor at his residence by Nawarat Bridge.

Inthakhin Festival

Chiang Mai's city pillarThis famous Thai festival, peculiar to Chiang Mai, is held for six full days from the waning of the moon during the sixth lunar month. It is held to celebrate and pay respect to the city pillar (the Inthakhin Pillar), which will hopefully bring rain and encourage prosperity for the city and its citizens.

The ancient Tai-Indic festival begins with a procession of the Phra Fon Saen Ha Buddha image around the streets of Chiang Mai. People from all walks of life come from all over the north to participate in this important ceremony that brings harmony, joy and wealth to Chiang Mai. They believe that a guardian spirit resides inside the image and that bathing the image with lustral water will encourage rain.

Wat Chedi LuangThe procession will move from Tha Pae Gate to Wat Chedi Luang, where most of the activity takes place - especially in the evenings when crowds make offerings at the city pillar. On the last day of the festival the procession also parades around the four gates and corners of the old city wall encircling the Khu Muang or moat.

The festival should not be missed as it gives a deep insight into the blend of religion and animism that is so much a part of the northern Thai psyche.

Lien Pu Sae-Ya Sae Festival

This is a strictly animist festival and is held on the 14th day of the waxing moon in the 7th lunar month. This festive event takes place at Mae Hia near Wat Doi Kham and concerns the guardian spirits known as Pu Sae and Ya Sae who live on Doi Suthep Mountain.

Visakha Bucha Festival

This Buddhist festival is held in all temples in the province (and also throughout the rest of Thailand) during the full moon of the sixth lunar month. It celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the lord Buddha.

Seup Jata Muang Festival


This ancient Tai-Indic festival is held to prolong life of the city. Named the Seup Jata Muang Festival, it is held on the 4th day of the waxing moon of the 7th lunar month. Offering are made to guardian spirits at the cardinal points of Chiang Mai city such as the gates, city pillar etc.

Rocket Festival

These well-known rainmaking festivals are held all over the north and north east of Thailand. The main ones in Chiang Mai are held at Wat Pa Tung and Wat Phra Non during the sixth or seventh lunar months.

In the early morning, the various contestants and teams take their rockets to the temple to compete for prizes for the best rocket design. In the afternoon the rockets are launched from a clearing nearby the temple. Unlike similar festivals in other parts of the country, the Chiang Mai versions only allow the use of natural materials - such a bamboo reinforced with hemp rope. No metal pipes or pre-built factory rocket kits are allowed.

The whole event can be quite lively with contestants invariably having an alcoholic drink or three during the festival. The competition results for the best flight and launch can also be unpredictable hence making the festival that much more fun.

Asalaha Bucha-Wan Khao Pansa Festival


Held during the full moon and the first day of the waning moon in the eighth lunar month, this Buddhist festival takes place throughout all temples in the province. The festival celebrates the first sermon given by the lord Buddha and also the beginning of the rains retreat.

Salakaphat Festival

Wat Chedi LuangYet another Buddhist festival held at most temples throughout the north. It is especially celebrated at Wat Chiang Man, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai city.

It is held from the full moon on the 10th lunar month until the end of September. The festival is about lay merit making and involves alms being placed in baskets and given to monks by lottery.

Tak Bat Devorohana Festival


Devorohana FestivalHeld at the same time and date as the Ok Pansa Festival, the Tak Bat Devorohana Festival celebrates the return of the lord Buddha to earth from heaven, where he had been teaching his mother. This festival is particularly celebrated at the various hillside temples - especially at Wat Fai Hin near the Chiang Mai University.

Ok Pansa Festival

Held on the first day of the waning moon in the 11th lunar month is the Buddhist Festival of Ok Pansa. It celebrates the end of the rains retreat and is held at all temples in the province.

Kathin Festival


This lay merit making Buddhist festival is held at many temples until the full moon of the 12th lunar month during October. Thais travel in groups from around the country to distant temples where they offer robes and alms.

Loy Krathong Festival

Undoubtedly the biggest and most colorful festival of the year in Thailand is Loy Kratong or Yi Peng, as it is known in Chiang Mai and the north. It is held on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month and usually falls in November.

At this time of year the tide in most rivers is highest and the moon is brightest, creating a romantic ideal setting - especially for lovers. The Thai people see it as the best time for celebration on such a beautiful night.

floating krathong or YipengChiang Mai is one of the prime sites to celebrate the Loy Kratong festival. During the celebration, the largest Kratongs are decorated floats and carried on trucks in procession. The colorfully lit floats form a long glittering parade as they make their ways to the Ping River. Meanwhile, up above thousands of 'khom loy' (floating lanterns) drift into the night sky. These large balloon-like lanterns are released at temples and sometimes from private homes in the hope that misfortune flies away with them.

Loy Kratong is probably the most picturesque and most beautiful of Thai celebrations. 'Loy' literally means 'to float' and 'Kratong' refers to the lotus-shape vessel that can float on 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 have been applied in making a kratong.

Loy Kratong near a riverThe Loy Kratong ritual is 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. On that day, thousands of people will gather besides the canals and rivers. With Kratong in hands, they light the candle, put some coins in the kratong and silently make a wish and finally carefully place their kratongs in the water and release them to the current. They watch intently as the float drifts silently downstream, hoping that the candle will not go out. Its flame is said to signify longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. Altogether it is considered a romantic night for couples and lovers, many of them would make a wish to bless their love affairs as they float their Kratong on the river.

In Chiang Mai the Ping River becomes a sea of glittering floating lights, fireworks are let off everywhere, particularly along the river banks and there is a parade each night although the Chiang Mai streets.

Food Festival

Another purely cultural festival held in the middle of the month. Main events are centered around the Tha Phae Gate and Suan Buak Hat areas in the city.

Rose Festival

rose plantNot to be confused with the flower festival in February, this cultural flower based festival is held on the weekend closest to the 5th of December each year. The locations for the main celebrations are at the Tha Phae Gate and Suan Buak Hat in the city center. Beautiful rose flower displays are created to honor HM the king's birthday

Winter Fair Festival

This delightful cultural festival is held from 30th December until 8th January in Chiang Mai, with a similar festival held in the province of Lamphun a little earlier from 1st to 8th December.

Both events are a noisy combination of fun fair, freak show and general commercial promotions. Venues in Chiang Mai are at Sanam Kila and Sala Klang.

Chiang Rai

King Mengrai Annual Festival

The King Mengrai Annual Festival is held from 23rd January to 1st February at the Provincial Stadium in Chiang Rai's Muang district. It features a variety of products for sale including many local handicrafts. Other entertainment on offer includes beauty contests and various games for everyone to enjoy.

The Mekong Friendship Festival

at the coast of Khong RiverThe Mekong Friendship Festival is held annually from 15th to 17th January in Chiang Rai's Muang district. It features a variety of entertainment with performances from the four different nations of the Mekong region as well as having a feast of international food on offer.

Sakura Flowers Blooming Fair

Sakura FlowerThis beautiful colorful festival is held at the end of January at Doi Mae Salong, Mae Fah Luang. It features exhibitions and demonstrations of the various teas from around the region. Also on offer are beauty contests and performances from the area's hilltribes.

Hilltribe Friendship Festival

tribesThe Hilltribe Friendship Festival is held on the 14th February at the Huay Maezai village in Muang district. It features lively hilltribe performances and a special 'Khantoke' dinner.

Wild Flowers Blooming Fair

wild rose This delightful and very colorful festival is held each year from 13th to 15th January at the Fah Thai village in Thoeng district. It features several hilltribe performances and various sports events.

Strawberries and Flowers Blooming Fair

strawberries plantHeld every year in early February, the unusual but colorful Strawberry and Flower Fair takes place in the village of Mae Sai.

Lanna Thai Heritage Fair

northern dance-long-nailed danceThis cultural festival features colorful performances and a local music show. It is held each year on 2nd April at the Cultural Hall in Chiang Rai's Muang district. There are many local foods on offer as well as a special evening market called the 'Kard Laeng' for all the family to enjoy.

Chiang Saen Songkran Festival and Boat Racing

long-tailed boat racingThe nationwide Songkran festival is held from 16th to 18th April each year. In Chiang Rai province it is best celebrated at the village of Chiang Saen. Here visitors can enjoy watching a traditional Songkran procession that includes pouring water over respected Buddha images. There is also a very lively three nations boat racing event and other local entertainment for all to enjoy.

The Lychee Fair and Festival

lycheeThe Lychee Fair and Festival is held from the 14th to 16th May at the Provincial Stadium in Chiang Rai city center. The colorful festival features several beauty contests as well as the event's famous 'Lychee Procession'. Also on sale are a variety of local handicrafts and agricultural produce.

The 'Pla Buek' Catfish Breeding and Conservation Fair

This long and rather unusual fair is held at the Hat Krai village in Chiang Khong district from the 18th to 30th May. The annual event is a great opportunity to learn all about the various catfish that can be found in Mekong River. It is also a chance to enjoy tasting the many different varieties in a massive culinary feast that is held along the riverside.

Loy Kratong Festival

This well known nationwide festival is held in Chiang Rai from 22nd to 23rd November. The main events take place in the city center.

Mexican Sunflowers Blooming Fair

flowerThis somewhat strangely named festival is held on the 21st November at the Hua Mae Kham village in Mae Fah Luang district. The festival features delightful hilltribe performances and local produce sold at bargain prices.

The Chiang Rai Food Fair

The Chiang Rai Food Fair is held from the 17th to 19th December on Banphaprakran Road in Muang district. Good foods are sold at cheap prices and Lanna cultural performances and demonstrations of fruit carving and Thai desserts can be observed and enjoyed.

Mae Hong Son

Poi Sang Long Festival

Young Boys in Poi Sang Long CeremonyPoi Sang Long is a Buddhist novice ordination ceremony, but unlike any other ceremony of its type in the country. Young boys aged between 7 and 14 are ordained as novices to learn the Buddhist doctrines. It's believed that they will gain merit ordaining for their parents.

The origins of this festival lie in Buddhist legend. It is believed that the tradition is probably following in the footsteps of Prince Rahula, the Buddha's own son, who gave up his worldly life to follow his father's spiritual teachings. Prince Rahula became the youngest ordained monk and the first novice in Buddhism. Subsequently it became a tradition that young boys should ordain to learn Buddhist teachings.

With such high reverence to the Buddhist religion, the people here consider that the celebrations should be as grand as possible.

After bathed and dressed up elegantly, the boy is now called 'Sang Long'The festival lasts for three days. On the first day, the boys have their heads shaved. Then, they are bathed and anointed with special waters and dressed up elegantly and colorfully while their faces are superbly embellished. By this time, the boys are known locally as 'Sang Long' or 'Look Kaew' (jewel sons).

On the second day, a colorful procession is held displaying offerings for the monks. On the third day, the procession once again proceeds through the town and the boys are taken to the temples for the formal ordination ceremony.

The colorful festival is one of the most delightful in the north, attracting people from far and wide. The local authorities and the Tourism Authority of Thailand consider this festival to be unique to Mae Hong Son, the so-called 'Province of the Three Mists.'

Chong Pa Ra Procession (End of the rainy season retreat)

Local people preparing a model castleHeld in October, at the end of the rainy season, "Chong Pa Ra" locally referred to as "Poi Lern Sip Ed" is one of the most important traditions in Mae Hong Son. This ceremony is in celebration of the day when the Lord Buddha returned to earth after a visit to his mother in the seventh heaven.

According to tradition, locals build elaborate models of castles called "Chong Pa Ra," and place them in front of temples and their homes. In addition to the ceremonial castles, the towns people A castle decorated with colorful papersarrange a procession in order to pay their respects to the Lord Buddha upon his arrival. Typically this day is a bit less festive than other holidays, as most people go to the temple to make merit in the morning, and then visit with senior relatives, bringing gifts of flowers, candles and sweets.

Loi Krathong Festival

Doi Kong Mu at NightThe festival is held in November on the same day as the national festival Loi Krathong. Mae Hong Son's Loi Krathong is locally called Yi Peng, and takes place around Chong Kum pool at Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu. People bring their own "Krathong," a lotus-shaped basket traditionally made of banana leaves and stem containing flowers, a candle and incense, and release it into the pool. In addition to the ceremony, there is a wide variety of entertainment available.

Wild-Sunflower Blossom Fair at Doi Mae U-Kho

Wild-Sunflower blossoms at Doi Mae U-KhoThe Bua Thong Fair is by far the highlight attraction of Mae Hong Son. Starting in November, the sunflowers blossom and carpet the surrounding countryside for miles in each direction.

The Wild-Sunflower Fair is without question the most popular festival in Mae Hong Son, and is held between November and December, when the Bua Thong (wild-sunflowers) are at their peak. There are two places where travelers can join the festival, one at Doi Mai U-Kho, in the Khun Yuam district and another at Doi Mae Hoh, in the Mae Sariang district. This festival is extremely lively, and offers a wide variety of entertainment including exhibitions, local performances, sports, games and stalls arranged by local hilltribe people.


Si Satchanalai Ordination Celebration

Si SatchanalaiOn April 7-8, an ordination celebration is held at Ban Hat Sieo of Si Satchanalai District. This event is locally called "Buat Chang", and features a ceremonial precession of young ordination candidates in colorful costumes riding on the backs of decorated elephants.

Loy Krathong and Candle Festival

Loi Krathong at the ancient city of SukhothaiEach year on the full moon day of the 12th lunar month (usually in November), the Loy Krathong festival is held all over the country, and is one of the most beautiful and unique sights in all of Thailand. In Sukhothai, the festival has been arranged in a unique manner, and is centered around Sukhothai Historical Park. During the festival people revive the atmosphere of the Loy Krathong festival in the ancient city, which dates back for more than 700 years. Visitors can join in the ceremony, take in the sights and sounds, or enjoy numerous forms of entertainment including a Krathong competition, a beauty contest in Thai traditional costumes, and a magnificent Thai carnival.

Article Source: http://www.thailand.com

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