February Festivals Across Thailand
February Festivals Across Thailand While a lot of us are aware that February is the month we celebrate the Chinese New Year, that’s not all we have to look forward to here in Thailand, the fact is the month is brimming over with all manner of annual events listed here are the biggest and best (in my humble opinion) the Kingdom has to offer.
The exact dates of these events are never easy to get to the bottom of, for all manner of reasons see my post detailing how these annual events are scheduled.
Makha Bucha Day
When: 22nd February 2016 (11th Feb 2017)
Where: Across Thailand
Maka Bucha (also known as Magha Puj or the Full Moon of Tabodwe) is a national, annual Public Holiday in Thailand. The date is dependent on the Thai Lunar calendar and is celebrated across the Kingdom on the full moon of the third lunar month. For those that can’t do without their booze the bad news is; In Thailand the sale of alcohol is banned on religious holidays.
For more on the event its history and how it is celebrated in Thailand click here
Chinese New Year: 2016 is the year of the ‘Monkey’
When: 8 February 2016
Where: Throughout Thailand
While 14% of its population is officially Chinese, many more Thais can trace their ancestral roots to China and so the Chinese New Year is a big thing in the Kingdom, not that the people of Thailand need a reason to party. Legend has it that Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality
This festival always takes place on the first day of the first lunar month so changes every year according to the Western Calendar. For a more detailed explanation of the festival its roots, history and taboos, along with details on what a person born in the year of the monkey is like click here, for details on the major venues in Thailand celebrating the festival click here
Bun Khao Chi and Pho Chai Products Festival
There are a number of these annual; festivals right across Isaan in late January-mid February, to coincide with the end of the harvest, when the farmers have new rice in their barns and the cold winds start to bite.
A picture of people encircling a charcoal stove or open fire to grill sticky rice resonates with the Isaan people and their Buddhist beliefs and they believe that by making merit with khao chi or grilled sticky rice, they will gain merit.
At this festival you can watch the parade of the giant Khao Chi (grilled sticky rice), plus witness the Khao Chi contest, the Bun Khao Chi Beauty Contest, the tasty Som Tam – Khao Chi contest and explore the many other local dishes that will be amassed to assault your taste buds.
The origins of making merit with Khao Chi
There was once a woman named Punna Thasi, a servant who offered Khanom Paeng Chi, a dessert to Lord Buddha even though she thought Lord Buddha would not eat because it was not good enough for him; however, he ate that dessert right in front of her and preached to her until she reached Sotapattiphala (the first stage of enlightenment).
Isaan people believe in the virtue of giving and have practised Khao Chi merit making as a tradition for centuries.
Contact: Pho Chai District Office Tel. 0 4356 70770
When: February 22nd 2016 (Feb 11th 2017)
Where: Across Thailand
This traditionally Chinese festival is held annually on the 15th day of 1st lunar month, which coincides with the last day of Chinese New Year, it is on this day if you are lucky you will witness lantern parades and lion dances. On the same day it is also traditional to eat ‘Yuanxiao’ (a rice ball stuffed with different fillings) and so it is also called the Yuan Xiao Festival. The celebration is part of the Chinese New Year.
To see more on this traditional festival including its history, what Folk Dances are performed; Lion Dance, and Walking on Stilts, plus the other traditional things that happen on this date including ‘Guessing Lantern Riddles click here
Kalasin Pong Lang, Phrae Wa and Red Cross Fair
Where: Kalasin City Hall, Amphoe Mueang, Kalasin Province North East Thailand
The festival is organised around a number of colourful parades, featuring floats from each district of the province, which in turn are decorated with a gigantic-sized “pong lang”, (a folk vertical xylophone), flowers and mystical animals. The parade is joined by people beautifully dressed in traditional clothes.
There are also cultural competitions, a beauty pageant. A Pong Lang bands’ contest, the pong lang is a log xylophone, which has 12-15 wooden bars that are tied together with a length of rope, the instrument is generally played by two players, who each use two hardwood sticks. The lower pitch end is attached to a post or tree and other is hooked to the player’s toe. The two performers sit on either side, one playing the melody, the other playingdrone accompaniment.
The music does not stop there it continues with live music and entertainment shows, North-Eastern style Mo Lam singers and the demonstrations and sales of local handicrafts and food products. Plus the Phrae Wa Silk exhibition
Nearby tourist attractions: Wat Si Bun Rueang, A Black Buddha image (Wat Klang), Phutthasathan Phu Po. Contact: Kalasin province Tel. 0 4381 1695, 0 4381 1213
Straw Bird Fair
When: Annually in February (2016 dates not yet released)
Where: Chai Nat Bird Park & Chai Nat City Hall. Chai Nat Province Central Thailand
The events full name is Straw Bird Fair, Chai Nat Product Fair & Red Cross Fair. This relatively new fair was first held in February 1986; it is still going strong some 30 years later, it was formed to promote both the Chai Nat Bird Park and the local people’s desire to preserve their culture and history. It has now become one of the major festivals for the province.
These at times huge, but always intricate and brightly coloured life like straw birds, are show cased both within the confines of the Bird Park and in front of Chai Nat City Hall. Later they are perched onto equally elaborately decorated floats and then paraded around the city accompanied by musicians and people in traditional Thai dress, all to the huge delight of the onlookers.
Through-out the festivities there are numerous live performances and exhibitions displaying the diversity and cultural history of the province, along with stalls selling both local produce and handcrafts and of course as you would expect here in Thailand there are a vast array of vendors selling a myriad of delicious Thai food dishes to savour.
To see more on the event including; its history, Chai Nat Bird Park and the spiritual side of the festivities, click here
Pattaya Bike Week
When: Annually typically mid February 13-14th February 2016
Where: National Indoor Sports Stadium on Soi Chaiyapreuk 2 in East Pattaya Central Thailand
Known as the Burapha Bike Week, this is undoubtedly Thailand’s largest motor bike festival and raises a huge amount of money each year for charity. The event is not just for bikers and attracts all manner of people from all over Thailand and further afield.
The two day event runs well into the evenings with live local and international music bands playing through-out the event.
This is your chance to see some of the biggest, smallest, best and most bizarre bikes out there. You can also witness formal demonstrations of stunt riding (along with a few impromptu rides) As you would expect there will be a huge array of stalls selling a mass of bike paraphernalia plus and equal number selling food and drinks, unlike most Thai festivals there will also be lots of booze stalls (only to help counter the issue of the sun of course!).
King Mengrai Annual Festival
Where: Provincial Stadium, Chiang Rai
King Meng Rai is specific festival of Chaing Rai where it is celebrated all over the city. During the 9 days of celebrations there will be a number of colourful parades and a host of cultural performances and competitions, along with various beauty contests and games, celebrating the founder of Chiang Rai and the ancient Kingdom of Lanna. Of course this would not be Thailand if the event did not provide a vast army of street vendors and shops offering a mass of local handicrafts and food.
Flora Park Mist Festival
When: 1 November 2015 – 31 March 2016
Where: Wang Nam Khiawo District, Nakhon Ratchasima Northeast Thailand with its widely known motto “Cool-climate town, abound with mountain s, plenty waterfalls, several fruit orchards, vast paradise of fog”
Known as the Switzerland of Isaan the districts motto is ‘Cool climate town.’ At this time of year it is a mass of colour and in the early morning a sea of fog. The festival is held on an area of over 50 rai at Khao Phaeng Ma and you can expect to witness a carpet of blooms from more than 100,000 flowers of over 20 different species, along with the spectacular vertical garden. There will also be over 5,000 English roses of 400 species arranged beautifully across the landscape.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
When: 5-7th February 2016
Where: The city of Chiang Mai Chiang Mai Province Northern Thailand
This annual 3 day festival is normally held on the first weekend in February and is possibly Thailand’s biggest floral event, now in its 39th year the event highlights the regions creative heart, Chiang Mai is known as the ‘Rose of the North’ and during the event the city’s streets literally come alive with flowers that are just about everywhere. The region is also considered one of the most scenic provinces in the country due to its mountain ranges, valleys, flora, and fauna.
The event includes a parade of fabulous floats, decorated in a myriad of beautiful flowers, all escorted by the many local hill tribes that inhabit the province dressed in their traditional clothing. It also features Miss Flower & Miss International Flower Blooming Beauty Contests, an agricultural and local food fair, plus live music concerts.
For more about the festival, the history of Chiang Mai and the Lanna Kingdom click here.
Trang Underwater Wedding Festival
Where: Kantang, Trang Southern Thailand
This is the 20th year of the festival and while its name implies it is only for those seeking to get married it is open to all those that wish to express their love for their partner no matter your age or ability. The Buddhist ceremony follows the same rituals one would find on land including the pouring of lustre water into the palms of the bride and groom. The 3 days and nights are filled with lavish processions and beach parties
ASEAN Lantern Festival
When: 19 November, 2015 to 22 February, 2016
Where: Siam Park City, Bangkok
Siam Park City, an amusement and water park located in the outskirt of Bangkok, it is holding in cooperation with the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) the ASEAN Lantern Festival will feature huge decorated lanterns featuring famous landmarks of each ASEAN member country, such as Merlion of Singapore, Petronas Twin Towers of Malaysia, and Angkor Wat of Cambodia.
The special “Jewel of ASEAN” presenting cultural performance from each member country and ASEAN puppet lantern parade will be on show at the 2,500-seat amphitheatre every Friday night at 19:00 hrs, and on weekends and public holidays at 15:30 hrs and 19:00 hrs.
A special Likay folk theatre performance from Myanmar will take place from 31 December to 3 January 2016.
While Thailand will hold an ASEAN Festival called “Welcome to the ASEAN Community” from 23 to 26 December at the theme park to offer more ASEAN information related to the start of the ASEAN Economic Community (in 2016).
Visitors can also enjoy the ASEAN Shopping and entertainment zone throughout the three -month festival. Open daily from 10.00 – 22.00 hrs. Entrance to the event on weekdays costs 500 Baht for daytime. A Siam Lantern Pass costs 350 Baht and valid from 17:00 to 22:00 hrs.
King Narai Reign Fair
Where: King Narai Palace, Lopburi Central Thailand
This nine day event is about paying respect to King Narai the Great who was the king of Ayutthaya from 1656 to 1688 and arguably the most famous Ayutthaya Monarch. His reign saw the kingdoms greatest commercial and diplomatic success, all around the then known world.
The event includes a beautiful re-enactment of a regal ceremony that would have graced the Kings palace during his reign, along with a spectacular procession of colourful floats, horses and majestic elephants. That’s far from the finish of this mass of noise and colour, there is also the specially arranged ‘changing of the guards’ ceremony, a light-and-sound presentation as well as a host of cultural displays and dancers.
For more on the event including the use of the ancient ‘Bullet’ money, the city of Lopburi and the Kings Palace click here
Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao Fair
When: Normally 2 weeks after the Chinese New Year
Where: Pattani Town
Lim Ko Niau (ลิ้มกอเหนี่ยว) Thai-Chinese. Name of the sister of Lim To Khieng, a Chinese immigrant who married the daughter of the Pattani governor and converted to Islam. Lim Ko Niau however sailed from China to try and sway her brother to forsake Islam and return to his homeland.
He declined and to demonstrate his faith in 1578 started the construction of the Masayid Kreu Se mosque. His sister then put a curse on the mosque, saying it would never be completed. After a final failed attempt to persuade her brother she eventually hanged herself from a nearby cashew nut tree, in his grief he was unable to finish the mosque which to this day remains uncompleted. The Pattani people later built a shrine in her memory and carved her statue from the wood of the same cashew nut tree. On the first day of the third lunar month every year, a colourful procession winds through the town carrying the statue of the Lim Ko Niao to the shrine. The event includes fire-walking in front of the shrine, light and sound presentations, dragon and lion dancing and swimming across the river at nearby Dechanuchit Bridge.
The shrine is located on A No Ru Road in Pattani town and is also known as the Leng Chu Kiang Shrine, Open daily 8.00 am-5.00 pm. More information about the shrine and the procession call 0 7352 2411.
Dok Siew Blooming Festival
When: 13 – 15 February 2016
This wonderful and natual explosion of colour happens once a year in the national forest park of Phu Chi Fah. February is traditionally when the mountains spring to life with a blaze of colour from the Chongko or Dok Siew flowers at the same time at dawn when this Northern most province feels the full force of the Thai winter, a sea of fog blankets the park, the combination of mist and bloom is breathtakingly specatular. If that were not enough the event also includes a wide range of spectacular art and cultural performances from northern tribe people as well as thrilling sport competitions.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Chiangrai office +66 5371 7433, +66 5374 4674-5
City Pillar Worship Ceremony
Where: Lampang Provincial Hall, Amphoe Mueang Lampang Northern Thailand
Also known as city pillar and sib chatah festival, the event is centered on the ‘City Pillar’. This is an annual celebration of the people of Lampang to commemorate and make Merit for the city, its Pillar and the ‘Spirits’. (City Pillars are normally found in or near the geographical centre of a provincial city, that is, near the centre of the rectangle formed by the old city walls)
The belief in spirits plays an important part in the Lanna people of Northern Thailand, who believe that spirits can bring fertility and peace to everyday life and will ask for the spirits, especially from their own ancestors – called “Pee Mod Pee Meng”, to help protect their family. After the people receive help from spirits, they hold a second ceremony to return the favors called “Fon Pee” (Spirit Dance)
The festival features both Buddhist and Brahmin rituals and demonstrations of the “Fon pee mod pee meng” a local dance performance, believed to be a ritual to revere ancestor spirits in order to bring good luck to the city.
Photographer: Sakkarin Suttisarn
Bang Rachan Heroes Memorial Fair
When: Annually 4-6 February
According to Thai folk law the villagers of the small town of Bang Rachin in 1765, held up the might of the advancing armies of Burma for 5 months after it had ransacked the capital city of Ayutthaya, the story of a rag bag unit of simple villagers is at times likened to the tale of the “Battle of the Alamo”.
Many roads in Sing Buri are named after the heroes of the battle and the fair includes ceremonies which pay homage to the image of Phra Achan Thammachot (the Buddhist monk who played a major role in the defense of Bang Rachan his name was later given to the mountain top Wat that lies 51 kms away) and includes the laying a wreath before the Heroes of Khai Bang Rachan Monument.
The festival also features a spectacular sound and light show depicting the selfless acts of the heroes of Khai Bang Rachan, plus various other stage entertainment including traditional folk plays, dance and music and numerous exhibitions.
See what you are missing with this you tube video
Satun International Kite Festival 2016
When: Late February/Early March 2016
Where: Satun Air Base, Muang District. Satun Province Southern Thailand
This is the 36th annual kite festival with teams from over 30 countries expected, including 100 teams from Thailand participating in this colourful extravaganza, with competitions in eight different categories, including Beauty, Creativity, High Flying, Sound, Marathon, native Kites, Giant and Student’s Kites.
The event also boasts a number of kite demonstrations and exhibitions along with a Miss Satun beauty contest, cultural performances featuring the diversity of the region’s population and live music concert from famous singers every night.
Cotton Blossom (Dok Fai Ban)
When: Annually during Chinese New Year
Where: In front of the provincial hall & Kut Pong Park. Loei Province Northeast Thailand
The fair’s full name is Dok Fai Ban Makham Wan Mueang Loei Red Cross Fair (Cotton blossom and Sweet Tamarin) (งานกาชาดดอกฝ้ายบาน มะขามหวานเมืองเลย).
The fair kicks off with a colourful and at times noisy procession featuring each district of the province carrying and wearing their famous cotton products and graced by the beauty queen on her float surrounded by more of the locally produced cotton products. There is also a mini Phi Ta Khon Ghost procession during the normally 7 day of festivities, along with exhibitions and cultural performances
Khantok Chang Fair – งานขันโตกช้าง หรือ สะโตกช้าง
Where: Thai Elephant Conservation Centre Hat Chat. Lampang Northern Thailand
For all this hard work the pachyderms are treated to their favorite food which is presented to them Lanna style (khantoke (ขันโตก)) on traditional round floor tables called Toke (or Tok) and hence the name of the fair. Also open every day is the Dung Paper factory where you can witness the process of making paper from the animal’s dung.
If you are lucky to be in the former Kingdom of Lanna do try dining Khantoke style, where you will be treated to a rich assortment of traditional Thai Northern food. Diners sit on the floor around these small, low tables and share a number of dishes served in small bowls (khan) the meal is normally accompanied by live traditional music.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Festival – งานพระนครคีรี
When: Annually around the end of February
Where: Khao Wang and Around the City Limit of Phetchaburi Central Thailand
The event is also known as Khao Wang, taking its name from the hill the Kings palace was built upon, during the reign of King Rama IV. This annual event is in its 156th year and is about celebrating Phetchaburi’s long and colourful, cultural heritage. The event includes ceremonies to worship both the ancestral Kings and the city pillar/shrine.
Also during the normal 5 days of festivities you can witness parades featuring the procession of monarchs who ruled Phetchaburi during the Dvaravati and Srivijaya Periods, along with numerous exhibitions on Phetchaburi’s history, including many archaeological objects found within the province. This is all with the back drop of over 1200 temple trees that are normally in bloom during the event.
Running along-side this mass of cultural activities and natural colour will be; Cooking demonstrations of the province’s famous dishes and sweetmeats, a beauty contest, an ox chariot race plus all manner of contests and a traditional Thai fair ground.
To top it all off and running every night is a light and sound spectacular with lanterns and fireworks
Sweet Plum Mango and Nakhon Nayok Products Fair – งานวันมะปรางหวานและของดีนครนายก
Where: In front of the City Hall. Nakhon Nayok Province. Central Thailand
The event is held to promote the locally grown agricultural products that thrive in this fertile region, along with a myriad of local handicrafts. This is the time of the year is when the Maprang (sweet plum mangoes) are ripe for harvesting, and they can be found on sale and display in all manner of succulent food and refreshing drinks.
The fair includes a parade of colourful floats, featuring the local agricultural products, along with numerous contests, exhibitions, cultural performances and each night there is live music
Maprang (มะปราง) is a plum-like tropical fruit tree native to Southeast Asia The tree is related to the mango and is hence sometimes referred to as Plum Mango the young leaves of the tree can be eaten and are used in salads, the seed is also edible if a little bitter.
Boon Khao Chee Festivals
When: Annually during the 13-15th days of the waxing moon in February
Where: Wat Tham Suwan Kuha, Ban Kuha Pattana, Amphoe Suwan Kuha. Nong Bua Lamphu Province. Northeast Thailand
The event is closely aligned to one of the most important festivals in Laos when in the same month devotees celebrate Boun Khao Chi (Makhaboucha) or the Festival of Joy. The Lao religious celebration commemorates the day when 1,250 monks gathered spontaneously without prior knowledge to listen to the Dharma of Lord. In Thailand this same auspicious occasion is celebrated as Makha Bucha Day.
The annual celebration and merit making at Wat Than Suwan Kuha features a gigantic khao chee, a local dish (originally from Lao – Lao people eat more sticky rice than anyone else on the planet) made from roasted sticky rice dipped in egg and sugar cane juice.
It is not a surprise to see this Lao festivals celebrated in this part of Thailand especially when you consider that There are approximately six times more ethnic Lao in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand than in Laos itself.
King Rama II Memorial Fair
When: Usually the first weekend in February
Where: King Rama II Memorial Park, Samut Songkhram Province
While this maybe the Kingdoms smallest province by land mass, it puts on this annual event with great enthusiasm and is a celebration of King Rama II, (Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai or Rama II, the second monarch of Siam under the House of Chakri, ruling from 1809 to 1824). The King was known as “Ek Akkharakhattiyasinlapin,” or the Great Artist, his reign was known as the “Golden Age of Rattanakosin and is widely recognised as a ruler who contributed much to his country through his patronage of the arts, his own ability as a poet and was instrumental in the reconstruction of Siamese culture and royal traditions
The people of a grateful country pay homage to their past King with visual displays on how the Thai way of life was during his reign, including khon mask performances, (Khon (Thai: โขน) is a genre of dance drama from Thailand. It is traditionally performed solely in the royal court, by men in masks accompanied by narrators and a traditional piphat ensemble-Wikipedia) Hun Krabok puppet shows, (Bamboo puppets operated from below by puppeteers and first found in Thailand over 300 ago) Along with cooking demonstrations on making Thai food, sweets and desserts, there are also an agricultural fair featuring a number of competitions and of course a huge range of souvenirs and local products for sale..
February Festivals Across Thailand
Contact: TAT Tel: +66 (0) 3451 1,200, (0) 2 500 3451 February Festivals Across Thailand