Thailand festivals are an intricate part of what makes the nation tick. They are an example of how their colorful culture and ways penetrate every part of life in the kingdom. Are you are a bit of a festival freak or a gala geek or even a carnival crazy? Here are 7 essential Thai festivals that you simply do not want to miss in 2020!
#1 – Songkran Thai New Year (Water Festival)
When: 13 April 2020. Thai New Year is 13th April. The festival can last a week or more depending on the region.
Songkran Thai New Year is the world’s biggest and most exciting water festival. When you absolutely have to drench everyone on the street and smear them in talcum powder, accept no substitutes. Songkran is Thai New Year, which is routinely held on the 13th April and lasts 3-days in most areas. In Phuket, the water festival is just 24-hours. But in places such as Pattaya, Bangkok and Chiang Mai, it can take a week or more to unfold. The streets will be awash with water pistol-toting badasses who are trying to drench you completely. So make sure you are a hunter and not the hunted. Make sure you leave your valuables in your hotel safe. Or water from the pistols might not be the only kind leaking from your face.
#2 – Loy Krathong Thai Festivals Thailand
When: 01 November 2020
Loy Krathong is one of the most fascinating and colorful spectacles of any Thai festival held throughout the year. The festival is routinely held on the Full Moon of the 12th month of the Lunar Calendar. It sually falls in November on the Gregorian calendar. On the evening of the festival, all stretches of water in Thailand are filled to the brim with decorative floats. They are also called ‘Krathongs’ and is made from a banana tree trunk, banana leaves and lots of flowers. You can buy them or make them yourself. Casting the floats out across the water signifies casting away the stresses and troubles of the past lunar year. Ready to start anew. It really is an enjoyable experience. You can take part no matter where you are in Thailand because it’s a nationwide event.
#3 – Ghost Festival (Phi Ta Khon)
When: 26 June 2020
Where: Dan Sai, Loei province
You might not believe in superstitions and ghosts, but Thai people most definitely do. This three-day festival known as the Ghost Festival (Phi Ta Khon) takes place in Dan Sai, which is in the Loei Province in the north about a 3-hour journey from Chiang Mai. Combining local traditions, spirituality and a party-like atmosphere, this Thai event is visited by thousands of locals in masks and is a mixture of both Buddhist and animist beliefs. This Thai festival is always held on the weekend of the 6th full-moon on the lunar calendar. The festival is supposed to recreate a party that both the dead and the living would like to attend. There are lots of pageants and live music shows, so if you want to know more about Thai superstitions and ghosts, this event is unmissable.
#4 – Popular Thai Festivals: Phuket Vegetarian Festival
When: (TBA) October 2020
Where: Phuket Town
One of the most covered Thailand events in media terms is the Phuket Vegetarian Festival. The festival has become infamous because of the strange acts of self-mutilation that go on, which makes this one of goriest festivals in the world. Taking place in Phuket Town for a 10-day period in October 2020, the festival deals with the more darker side of the spirit and supernatural world. Popularized in men’s magazine such as FHM and Maxim, photos of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival usually center around Thai men sticking all manner of objects into their bodies such as metal poles, machine guns and even hooks, which takes place on the last couple of days of the event. Over the 10-day period, the streets are closed down in the evening and there are lots of vegetarian food stalls, music shows and all manner of carnival things taking place. If you are in Phuket in October 2020, we would strongly recommend you head over to Phuket Town with your camera in hand to enjoy the fun.
#5 – Lantern Festival (Yi Peng)
When: October/November 2020
Where: Chiang Mai
Taking place over the same period as Loy Krathong in October and sometimes November, depending on the year, the Lantern Festival (Yi Peng) is quite possibly the most stunning in terms of aesthetics. This Thai festival takes place on the banks of the Peng River in Chiang Mai and is a remarkable sight you must see at first hand at least once in your life. At the festival, thousands of lanterns are released into the sky, which truly is a sight to behold. Bring along your camera and you will get some of the most amazing photos imaginable.
#6 – Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival 2020
When: 29 October 2020
Where: Chonburi City
I don’t know about you, but I have run away from a few buffaloes in my time, but have never actually ridden on one. The Chonburi Buffalo Racing Festival might seem like a fun and friendly Thailand event, and it is, but do not underestimate how serious the buffalo breeders and contestant take these races. The racing has been taking place for over 100 years and is a colorful spectacle that attracts lots of local spectators and also many Western onlookers from Bangkok and Pattaya. The races are fun, there are lots of food and drink stalls, live concerts and much more that make this a fascinating experience.
#7 – Lopburi Monkey Banquet
When: Phra Prang Sam Yot temple, Lopburi
Where: November 2020
If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys! Lopburi is located 150km north of Bangkok and is home to the unique Lopburi Monkey Banquet, which is held each November at the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi. The temple is simply overrun with monkeys, so each year they organize the largest monkey buffet the world has ever seen! The banquet is for 3,000 monkeys and combines 4-ton of fruit, vegetable and other edibles. It’s like the Mad Hatter’s tea party with more intelligent conversation and better manners. The temple grounds are usually a den of tranquility, but not during this unique festival. Do be careful though if you reach for some food or you might be swarmed by primates! Sounds like an all-you-can eat Thai BBQ buffet!
When it comes to festivals, nobody does it like Thailand. From self-mutilation and ghostly spiritual happenings to racing buffaloes at breakneck speeds, releasing colorful lanterns to lots of monkey business and everything in between, you have never lived if you haven’t experienced a few of these unique events. Thai festivals bring together the entire nation, and it is the perfect time to see the local people at their beautiful best. If you want to sample a real slice of Thai culture and life, visit one of these festivals while you are here on holiday.