Thailand has been named the fifth best country for its rich cultural heritage influence in 2021 according to a report by New York-based CEO WORLD magazine. When people talk about countries rich in heritage, the first name that comes to mind is Thailand. The nation is popular for its stunning beaches, fascinating culture, and crazy nightlife. The heritage of the country is also an exception in terms of beauty. There is a variety of places across the country that possess the rich earthiness of village life, influences of local traditions, and remnants of a splendid culture. From Sukhothai, to Ayutthaya to Ban Chiang, visitors flock to these places to appreciate the ancient history of Thai culture.
As a country with rich culture and tradition, it is thus no surprise that there are many enthralling festivals in Thailand which are celebrated throughout the year. Each month offers an exciting opportunity to celebrate with family, friends and loved ones. From significant revelries like Songkran which is celebrated across the country to region-specific festivals like the Surin Elephant Festival, there are plenty of festivals that tourists can enjoy to relish the true taste of Thailand.
Travel Motivations have made a list of the Top 7 festivals that we feel would absolutely amaze you while you are in Thailand. These are surely not to be missed:
Songkran Festival (Water Festival)
Songkran is Thailand’s most famous festival. An important event on the Buddhist calendar, this ‘water splashing’ festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’. Although getting well and truly soaked is what makes this festival so famous. The water festival is a national holiday that marks the Thai New Year. It takes place on the 13th of April every year although festivities stretch for at least a week.
This is a festival where people clean their houses, pour water over Buddha statues, and drench each other to symbolise cleaning away sins of the past year. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran where water is poured on Buddha images and on the hands of Buddhist monks as a mark of respect.
Appreciation of family is another important aspect of the festival, as many Thai people make their way to their hometowns to spend time with older relatives. They pay tribute to elderly members of the family and also their ancestors. It is celebrated all across the country although the biggest festivities can be seen in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok. Streets are cordoned off in favour of massive parades, and dance performances and many regions crown a Miss Songkran every year. Before the water celebrations, Thai people first visit temples to thank god for the past year and pray for good fortune in the year to come.
Water is an important element of Songkran, especially in more recent times when the throwing of water has become an integral part of the annual celebrations. If one is visiting Thailand during this period, he must prepare to get wet and splashed! Crowds of people roam around throwing buckets of water, using water pistols and just generally soaking anyone in the vicinity.
Lopburi Monkey Banquet (Food Festival)
There is a popular Thai legend that the Hindu deity Hanuman saved a god’s daughter from a demon in Thailand and monkeys have been gladly welcomed here ever since. They are most commonly found in ancient towns such as Lopburi which is located 150 kilometres north of Bangkok.
The monkey banquet festival was first started in the 1980s by a local businessman. His idea was to provide a buffet of fruit and food for the monkeys as a way of expressing gratitude for the primates whose presence brought in welcome tourist revenue to the town. The event has grown in size over the years and thousands of local and overseas tourists visit Lopburi to see the monkey banquet and the associated festivities.
In Lopburi, the local people conduct a huge monkey banquet every November as a celebration of these apes. The banquet has fruits, vegetables and seeds kept on offer for the 3,000 monkeys that live in Lopburi’s temple area. It is a really exciting sight to see these monkeys enjoy the festivities, though one should be careful to keep a distance else they climb onto them too.
Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival)
Yi Peng is one of the most spectacular festivals in Thailand. The Yi Peng festival takes place in the legendary city of Chiang Mai which was once the capital of the Lanna kingdom. It continues to hold cultural significance for its worn-out fortifications and moats that stand for a foregone era. Yi Peng was traditionally celebrated to mark the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the cool season. Thai people release lanterns into the air at Yi Peng Lantern Festival. Yi Peng Lantern Festival is celebrated as a way to release negative energy and wish for good luck and good fortune in the coming year. The festival is also one of the ancient traditions to honour Buddha in order to gain merit.
During Yi Peng in November, Chinese paper lanterns are released into the night sky which is meant to symbolise letting go of the misfortunes of the past year. Thousands gather to take part and enjoy the spectacular view. Tha Phae Road and Mae Jo University are the best locations to enjoy the festival, although it is best to come well ahead of time to find a good spot in the crowds. After the lanterns are released, one can enjoy the live music performances and firecrackers that light up the night sky.
Surin Elephant Festival
Surin is termed the ‘land of elephants” in Thailand, and this majorly influences the annual event – Surin Elephant Festival. This festival is a celebration of Thailand’s friendly giants. Elephants have always been an essential part of this country’s history – they were used in battle, they aided in agriculture, and they were even used for travel. The Hindu deity of Ganesha is hugely popular here, and his statues are quite common in most towns and villages.
This elephant festival in northeast Thailand sees enormous parades of elephants that are lovingly fed with fruits and vegetables. The elephant parades, their buffet breakfasts, skill demonstrations, cultural shows, ancient elephant warfare techniques, and much more, are truly a sight to behold. It is that time of the year when travellers from all over the globe visit Surin to experience the best of their local cultures surrounding this particular round-up. It is a festival of fun and frolic among the locals, which has now majorly become a part of tourist fancy. The parades are followed by marching bands and elephant shows. Tourists love interacting with these friendly beasts and taking pictures, especially once they have been decorated with flowers and paste.
The Surin Elephant Festival usually takes place at the third weekend of November.
Mekong Naga Fireballs
The Mekong Naga Fireball festival is a unique and fascinating festival celebrated in Thailand. In this festival, people gather along a certain 250 km stretch of the Mekong river, to witness glowing red ‘fireballs’ shoot up into the sky. Thousands of large reddish-pink balls of light are observed to rise into the night sky without a sound or seeming human interaction. They rise to 600 feet in the air. The number of fireballs sighted can range from hundreds to thousands. The local people attribute this phenomenon to the mythical ‘Phaya Nak’, a giant serpent which they believe resides within the river. Scientists postulate that it is caused by the combustion of sulphur in the river’s marshy environment. Regardless of whether it is a scientific phenomenon or the work of a water god, people gather at the Mekong River every October to watch this magnificent site unfold. In recent years, the mysterious red balls of light are joined by bursting firecrackers.
Full Moon Parties
In the early 1980s, a group of gipsies started partying on the full moon days at Koh Pag-Ngan, one of the famous islands in Thailand. Soon people started to join them, dancing away the night, and doing chores and activities. Gradually the event became a crazy cult. Today, around 10,000 to 30,000 people attend the full moon party in Thailand at Haad Rin Nok beach on Koh Pha-Ngan Island. The cost-free event takes place the night before, on a full moon night, or the next night.
What started as a small impromptu party is now a full-fledged festival, earning worldwide fame.
Wonderfruit Music And Arts Festival
Wonderfruit Music And Arts Festival is a celebration of art, music, food and ideas in The Fields at Siam Country Club, Pattaya. People from across the world join the creativity and community in tropical Thailand with international live music acts and DJs, perspective-shifting talks and workshops, world-class cuisine, cutting-edge architecture, immersive art installations, and much more—all as part of a sustainable platform to catalyze positive change.
Wonderfruit Festival each year would bring on another memorable excursion showcasing the musical and artistic discoveries amidst the stunning Thai countryside.
Wonderfruit is built on six pillars, namely, art & architecture, wellness, farm to-feasts, music, talks & workshops, and family. It is a four-day and night festival that is supposed to be conducted from 12 to 16 December this year at the Siam Country Club.
One festival that deserves mention apart from these Top 7 is the Wing Kwai.
Wing Kwai is Thailand’s Most Awaited Annual Buffalo Racing Festival Wing Kwai is an annual festival that takes place after the end of the rainy season.
Buffalo is the iconic symbol of Thailand’s agriculture and the rural life of the people of Thailand. The Buffalo Racing Festival of Thailand is one of the most iconic and exciting festivals for the people of Thailand and especially for Chonburi which is located 80 kilometres to the southeast of Bangkok. The festive atmosphere is a significant boost to the Chonburi economy, and this unique event is a sheer joy to watch as it provides entertainment to both the tourists and the villagers.
The buffaloes that take part in the race receive special care, which includes an exclusive diet and daily massage. These racing buffaloes would be trained, mainly so that they can participate in the racing event.
The festival begins at Wat Yai Intharam where Buddhist monks perform a religious ceremony which is known as “Tedmahachart.” The farmers would prepare a cart beautifully to present to a monk. The farmers would offer rice, coconut, betel nut, sugar cane, and banana. Farmers would come to the temple to seek the blessing of the monks for well beings of the family and the Buffaloes.
The parade to the temple would consist of several people and 13 buffaloes. After the ceremony, buffaloes would be taken, and then they are prepared for the race. Their farmer would challenge and would host small challenges among each other. Braveheart tourists are also welcome to take part in these types of small-scale competitions.
Travel Motivations can give you Event Access as a part of the Luxury Concierge Travel package. Being a reputed Concierge Company in Thailand, we would plan all your Travel (Hotels, Villas, Jets, Experiences).