January Festivals in Thailand
Author: Josh at Asia backpackers
January Festivals in Thailand. The hyper links are in the main to Wikipedia pages which gives more details on the city or province. While there are a few that have more specific information and send you to our main web pages.
National Children’s day
When: The second Saturday in January
Where: Across the Kingdom
Wan Dek (Children’s Day) is when the children across Thailand receive gifts from family members and are treated with even more affection than normal (if that’s possible in a country which is so very family orientated). It also means that the nations tourist attractions are kept very busy as most if not all will offer free or reduced entry prices for the kids. Many Government offices are also open to children and their families; this includes the Government House, the Parliament House Complex and various Military installations, plus kids go free on most public transport.
Usually, His Majesty the King gives advice addressing the children while the Supreme Monarch Patriarch of Thailand gives a moral teaching.
There is a Thai saying that states, “Children are the future of the nation, if the children are intelligent, the country will be prosperous.”
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival
When: 16-18th January 2016
How to get there: Bor Sang village is on highway 1006. 6 km east of Chiang Mai.
The Bor Sang Umbrella Festival is held annually all along the main thoroughfare in the village of Bor Sang for three days, the street, its shops and houses are decorated with hundreds of all manner of colourful silk and Saa umbrellas, making for explosion of colour that is a delight to see. In the early evening the street takes on a new life when it is illuminated by hundreds of Traditional Lanna styled lanterns. These are the same colourful lanterns that are also seen through-out Chaing Mai, during the Yi Peng festival
See more details on this wonderful festival Click Here
King Mengrai Annual Festival
When: 26 January – 4 February 2016
Where: Provincial Stadium, Chiang Rai
This festival goes by so many names Wai Sa Phaya Mengrai or “Phokhun Mengrai Maharat Festival” (งานไหว้สาพญาเม็งราย หรือ งานพ่อขุนเม็งรายมหาราช) to name but a few, what ever its name the event is a specific festival of Chaing Rai and 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
Where: Wang Nam Khiawo District, Nakhon RatchasimaNortheast Thailandsan, together with its widely known motto “Cool-climate town, abound with mountain ranges, 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.
Lop Buri Sunflower Blooming Festival
The festival kicks off around November until late January every year as this is when the sunflowers are in full bloom. The festival highlights include photography, scenic, train, bicycle, tractor and elephant tours around the ocean of sunflowers.
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.
Beer Garden Festival
Where: Across Thailand
November is traditionally the start of Thailand’s annual beer garden season. All across the country tables and chairs are brought out onto the street and the Kingdom’s main brewers along with a number of international names sell their amber nectar in draft and via large jugs. While not on par with northern Europe’s beer festivals, the atmosphere is close enough and the beer is free flowing.
Although a nationwide affair, beer gardens are more prevalent in Bangkok, where they can be found virtually everywhere. A good number of venues really push the boat out to make this time of year a great experience, offering live music (including pop and jazz) and spectacular sound and light shows along with all manner of Thai food.
Key venues are the larger shopping malls such as Central World Plaza on Ratchaprasong Junction Central World Plaza, Central City Bangna, Central Rama 3, The Mall Bangkapi, Tesco Lotus Bangna and Tesco Lotus Rama 4. If you are in the city during the festival you will never be far from a cool pitcher of beer.
Water Melon Day
When: Late January – February each year (Dates as yet not published)
Where: Kura Buri District Office Phang Nga Southern Thailand
When the humble watermelon takes centre stage from the provinces better known famous James Bond Island, which featured in the 1974 movie The Man with the Golden Gun. You not only get the chance to enjoy the water melons in all their glory, there is also a beauty contest, as well as exhibitions, including agricultural products, a food competition and beauty contest, all wrapped up in a carnival atmosphere.
Watermelon Is a Fruit and a Vegetable
Watermelons are related to cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash? That’s because it’s part vegetable and part fruit (it’s a sweet, seed-producing plant).
You Can Eat Watermelon Rind and Seeds
Most people throw away the watermelon rind, but try putting it in a blender with some lime for a healthy, refreshing treat. Not only does the rind contain plenty of health-promoting and blood-building chlorophyll, but the rind actually contains more of the amino acid citrulline than the pink flesh.
Citrulline is converted to L-arginine in your kidneys, and not only is this amino acid important for heart health and maintaining your immune system, but it has been researched to have potential therapeutic value in over 100 health conditions, including help with erectile dysfunction by helping to relax the blood vessels, and that’s why watermelon is sometimes referred to as “Nature’s Viagra.”
While many people prefer seedless watermelon varieties, black watermelon seeds are edible and actually quite healthy. They contain iron, zinc, protein, and fibre. (In case you were wondering, seedless watermelons aren’t genetically modified, as they’re the result of hybridization)
Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng’s Day Festival
When: 17 January 2016
The event honours of the King Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng of the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom who came to power in 1238 and ruled for 40 years, he is respected as Thailand’s first ‘Great King’
The King is also revered as one of Thailand’s finest warriors who in turn made Sukhothai a powerful and prosperous Kingdom, which included many parts of what is today its neighbouring countries. The King is also credited for inventing the Thai alphabet which is in essence the same as used today and for promoting religion and culture and through his will Buddhism was spread across the lands.
A total of eight King’s ruled Sukhothai, the end of what was the first Thai Kingdom occurred in 1365, when it became a vassal state of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, which in turn then became the capital of Thailand before Thon Buri and today’s Bangkok.
People will visit both the Monument of Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng and local temples to make merit and to present food to the Buddhist priest. There are plenty of exhibitions and shows detailing the local history and at night, there is a fireworks display.
Phu Ruea Flower Festival
Where: Phu Ruea District, Loei Northern Thailand
The Sea of Fog and Beautiful Flower Blossom on Phu Ruea is held on the grounds in front of Phu Ruea District Office during the New Year Festival, around December – January every year. Activities in the festival comprise of a temperate plant fair, floral float parade, decorative plants contests, traditional dancers and agricultural produce for sale.
Ruam Nam Jai Thai Sakon Fair and Red Cross Fair
When: Held the beginning of every year
Where: City Hall Sakon Nakhon. Sakon Nakhon Province. Northeast Thailand
This glorious fair show cases the many differing cultures from the multitude of ethnic groups found within this Isaan province, such as Phu Thai, So, Yor, Saek, Ka Lerng, Kula, Vietnamese, Lao and Chinese. The day consists of a myriad of entertainment include a folk culture contest, a traditional Isaan dinner, stage performances, a beauty pageant and a colourful float possession.
Sacrificial Combined Force 2324 Monument Fair (งานฉลองอนุสรณ์ผู้เสียสละพลเรือน ตำรวจ ทหาร 2324)
Where: the memorial near the Chiang Kham Airport, Chiang Kham. Phayao Province Northern Thailand
This merit making ceremony is dedicated to the civilians, policemen, and soldiers, who fought and died in their fighting with communist insurgents in 1980-early 1981 (2523-early 2524 B.E.).
The money raised goes to help the descendants of the deceased. Activities of this fun filled fair include games, rides, local cultural performances, exhibitions on the conflict and various booths and stalls selling all manner of handicrafts and local produce.
Chiang Rai Flower Festival
Where: Rim kok Park, Chiang Rai NorthernThailand
This annual event is not only about the wide range of flowers to be found in the local area it is also in part a music festival. The event includes a flower exhibition, the Miss Thinn Thai Ngarm beauty contest, agricultural exhibitions and contest along with a local products fair.
Sakura Blossom Festival at Doi Mae Salong
When: 28 December 2015 – 2 January 2016
Where: Doi Mae Salong, Chiang Rai
Doi Mae Salong is a mountaneous area close to the Burmese border in Chiang Rai, the most northern province of Thailand. The area is now famous for its tea plantation and the cherry blossom/sakura that blooms during the cool season. This is one of the few places in Thailand that one can witness the cherry blossom. While not on the same scale as can be seen in Japan the trees full of their pale pink flowers provide a picturesque contrast to the tropical climate of Thailand.
Enjoy a cup of tea from the local plantations (see more on ‘From Opium to Tea’ in Thailand) and see how this once part of the infamous drug ‘Golden Triangle’ has re-invented itself
Sweet Tamarind and Phetchabun Red Cross Fair
When: Annually Late January.
Where: Phetchabun Northern Thailand
The 7-8 day festival also incorporates Phetchabun Agricultural Day. The province is renowned for its sweet tamarind (The reddish brown, curved seed pods hold several large seeds encased by moist, sticky, dark brown flesh their taste varies from being very sweet to very sour. The latter is used as one of the primary souring agents in Thai cooking, imparting a delicious fruity tartness to soups, salads, stir-fries and sauce. Other uses include traditional medicine and metal polish while the wood can be used in carpentry)
During the festival, farmers bring their sweet tamarind and other agricultural products to sell, and to enter into the many contests that fill the event. There are numerous agricultural exhibitions and cultural shows.
Aside from the farming aspect of the event you will also find live entertainment organised through-out the event, including stage performances featuring the local culture and live music concerts. Other activities include the flower Parade, exhibitions and the Miss Sweet Tamarind contest.
Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre Fair
Where: Bang Sai Arts and Crafts village Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Central Thailand
A fairly new event on the Thai colander, the fair features a multitude of displays and contests of arts and crafts products and cultural performances.
The Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Village features traditional Thai houses from all four regions of the Kingdom, set in gardens that encompass each regions natural fauna and flora, they also replicate how the people lived and worked in past generations.
Blossom flowers at Mo Hin Khao
Where: Mo Hin Khao, Mueang District, Chaiyaphum
The event features a mini-marathon, mountain bike race, horse riding to visit the rock park, planting a tree in honour for H.M. the King, drawing and photographing, concert, New Year party and offering colour sticky rice to monks in the morning. (Description and picture from TAT)
The National Dairy Cow Festival
Where: Muak Lek District Saraburi Province Central Thailand
Know as the “Cowboy festivals” this annual festival is the biggest event in Thailand for professional dairy cow farmers. You may be surprised to know that Dairy farming has been associated with the rolling hills of Saraburi since the 50s. Today it supplies most of the popular milk products that are sold in supermarkets across the country.
HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, will again graciously open the event which will feature seminars, a fair, numerous concerts, dairy cow and the best cowboy or cowgirl costume contests.
According to Saraburi province’s tourism office, the cowboy festival evolves into an amazing scene as hundreds of “Thai cowboys” travel from different parts of the country to enjoy country and western music, an exhibition of dairy and beef cow farming, cow contests, whip-cracking, roping and a lariat show, and fancy gun handling.
Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng’s Day Festival (or King Ramkhamhaeng the Great Memorial Fair)
When: annually held on January 17.
The fair features many ceremonies to pay respect to King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. People will participate in alms-giving, religious ceremonies, processions, along with a number of exhibitions and cultural shows depicting the history of the earlier Kingdom, finishing with a fireworks display.
King Ram Khamhaeng (1237/1247 – 1298) was the third king of the Phra Ruang dynasty, ruling the Sukhothai Kingdom (a forerunner of the modern kingdom of Thailand) from 1279–1298, during its most prosperous era
More info Contact Sukhothai Historical Park, Tel: 0 5569 7310.
Don Chedi Memorial Day
When: Annually 18 January – 1st February
Where: Suphan Buri Province Central Thailand
This annual event is to celebrate King Naresuan the Great and his victory over the Burmese in January 1592. Along with Thai traditional fair activities, stalls and cultural performances there is an evening spectacular featuring traditionally clad battle elephants in a re-enactment of the famous battle, plus a multimedia presentation on the life of the King and that of the Suphan Buri.
More on the legend of King Naresuan and why you see Roosters all over Thailand Click Here
Ngan Mueang U – Khao, U- Nam (City of Rice and Water Bowl Fair) and Annual Red Cross Fair
Where: In front of Ang Thong City Hall. Ang Thong Province Central Thailand
This is the annual fair of the predominately farming people of Ang Thong and is traditionally held after harvesting period in late December and the beginning of January. There are a host of interesting activities with cultural shows featuring the local ethnicity, exhibitions, displays and demonstrations, and as always an army of stalls selling all manner of local produce and handicrafts. There is also the Mueang U-Khao U-Nam beauty contest, agricultural product contest, farmers’ sports competition and various other kinds of entertainment.
For more on the celebrations, the local handicrafts and the province click here
Chaopho Phraya Lae Festival also called the Chaiyaphum Elephant Festival
When: 12-20 January every year
Where: In front of Chaiyaphum City Hall and the Chaopho Phraya Lae Monument. Chaiyaphum Province Northeast Thailand
The first day of the event begins with several ceremonies to pay homage to the first Governor of the Province ‘Chaopho Phya Lae’ The monument is on the bank of Nong Pla Thao, 3 kilometres from the city, on the way to Ban Khwao. There is also a large tamarind tree on the bank close to the monument, which is said to be where Chao Phraya Lae was executed by Lao soldiers in 1826. The local people built the shrine to honour his sacrifice and to have his spirit protect the people of Chaiyaphum
The festival’s highlights include an elephant parade; there is also a Chinese banquet for elephants and a number of shows demonstrating the intelligence and strength of these majestic animals, at Chaiyaphum Municipality Stadium.
Throughout the city there will be numerous exhibitions of local handicrafts, along with a number of local contests including a drawing competition, a silk contest, Thai silk fashion show, and the Phya Lae beauty contest added to this is a number of local agricultural and hand made products contests and of course a mass of shops and stalls selling all manner of local products.
Not to be confused with the far bigger Festival in May Called “The festival of nine days, six months & nine nights” which also celebrates in part Chaopho Phraya Lae
For details, contact TAT (044) 213666, 213030.
Khao Suan Kwang Roasted Chicken Festival
Where: Khao Suan Kwang District Office, Amphoe Khao Suan Kwang, khon kaen Province North Eastern Thailand
If you have never tried this Isaan dish…then you are in for a real treat. Try the original succulent Khao Suan Kwang roasted chicken and at the same time see the best chicken, the most prolific egg laying chicken, and the jumbo chicken contests.
There is also a ‘human’ Roasted Chicken Beauty Contest, a chicken eating and pinching competition (no idea what the pinching involves). To bring some culture to the festivities and a chance to turn you back on all that poultry, there will also be a number of performances from traditional North-eastern-styleMo Lam singers, and a Pong Lang show (a form of Thai folk music featuring musicians and no fewer than 10 dancers and two humorous ladies, referred to as “La-la” and “Lu-lu”.
Contact: Khao Suan Kwang District Office Tel. 0 4344 9113
Chang Kra Festival and Mancha Khiri’s Product Fair
Where: Mancha Khiri District Office, Amphoe Mancha Khiri,Khon Kaen Province. North-eastern Thailand
Your chance to see more than 4000 Chang Kra wild orchids (Rhynchostylis gigantea) which naturally grow at Wat Pa Mancha Khiri, along with colourful parades featuring each district, demonstrations on local handicrafts, a local food contest, along with of course an army of shops and stalls selling a mass of local handicrafts and locally grown produce.
Contact: Mancha Khiri District Office Tel. 0 4328 9049, 0 4328 9022
Mukdahan Red Cross Fair
Where: City Hall Mukdahan Province North Eastern Thailand
Mukdahan is a quiet, peaceful province located on the bank of the Mekong River, opposite the Lao city of Sawannakhet. The ancestors of the Mukdahan people migrated from Laos to establish the city in the late Ayutthaya period.
This annual event includes parades featuring the ethnic groups that still live within the province, they are the; Thai I-san, Phu Thai, Kha, Saek, Yo, Kula, and Kaloeng. Highlights include traditional tribal performances, exhibitions, a beauty pageant, lucky draws, and fashion shows featuring local silk and native fabrics.
King Naresuan Memorial Day
When: 25th January each year
Where: Across the Kingdom
January 25th is the memorial day of King Naresuan the Great, Thailand’s national hero and warrior king. It is thought that the legendary elephant duel, during which he defeated the Burmese crown prince, took place on that day in 1592.
The day is memorialized as Armed Forces day in Thailand and it is when the people will gather at the many shrines and statues you find across the Kingdom in honour of King Naresuan
More on the legend of King Naresuan and why you see Roosters all over Thailand Click Here
Surin Jasmine Rice and Silk Cloth Fair.
When: Held every January
Where: Amphoe Mueang. Surin Province North East Thailand
For those really into handicrafts then this is the fair for you. Textiles are the cultural heritage of Surin and where weaving has played a major role in Surinese life for centuries. According to local legend, people in Surin first produced textiles which were influenced by the Khmer when the Khmer Kingdom held an important ceremony. The Khmer had insufficient manpower to weave the large quantities of textiles they needed, so they asked people in the border areas to help them. Since then, the Thai people have learnt the patterns, techniques, and styles of the Khmer.
Witness the complete process of textile production, from feeding silkworms, through tie-dyeing and weaving to making up finished items, the fair also features agricultural product and silk cloth competitions, a traditional Thai fair attractions and much, much more.
Jasmine Rice and its importance to Thailand
Rice farming in cultivated fields has been grown on the land that is now Thailand for at least five thousand years, one thousand years earlier than in India and China, while Jasmine rice was only identified in 1952; it has now become an important breeding strain for other rice through-out Thailand.
Thai people consume an average of nearly a pound of rice a day (in various forms besides steamed rice, including rice noodles, desserts, crackers, snack foods, rice liquors, vinegar, etc.), half of the rice Thailand grows is exported. Jasmine rice makes up half of the country’s rice exports.
When: Across the year
Where: Across the Southern Province
This form of fighting is nothing like the bull fighting of Latin America or Southern Europe; here it is more of a clash of wills along with the thunderous clashes of horns and fore-heads of the male Water Buffalo, which brings the audience to their feet and not the murderous intent of a matador.
In this ancient gladiatorial sport the animals are not maimed and killed to satisfy the blood lust of the crowd nor is there a desire to see the animals suffer, in this competition it is down to one of the two 600kg, testosterone fuelled buffalo’s in their natural desire to be the ‘Boss’ to win the day by encouraging their opposite number to turn tail and run away.
For more on this ancient spectacle, the rules, its history and culture click here
Red Cross and Winter Festival
When: 30 December 2015 – 12 January 2016
Where: Chiang Mai Northern Thailand
This annual event is held at the end of the harvest season. While it is truly an agriculture fair visitor can enjoy a beauty queen contest, be entertained by live music and shop for local arts and crafts.
Taksin Maharachanuson Fair and Red Cross Fair
Where: Taksin Shrine and provincial sports field. Tak Province North West Thailand
King Taksin the Great who returned independence to the Thai nation had his background closely tied with Tak; he was both the deputy and later the governor of the province. The people of Tak have never forgotten him and organise a traditional annual fair to honour him and his heroic deeds. There is a traditional Thai fair with rides and stalls plus numerous exhibitions, cultural performances, religious ceremonies and processions, along with nightly folk entertainment and a wonderful light and sound presentation depicting the Kings endeavours.
The Koh Chang Naval Battle Day
Where: Koh Chang Naval Battle Monument. Island of Koh Chang Trat Province Southeast Thailand
Also known as Koh Chang Yutthanavi Day, when the people of Trat and especially Koh Chang, remember and celebrate the courage of the Royal Thai Navy’s action against the French on January 17–21, 194, there are different exhibitions, merit-making and tribute rites performed through-out the event. There is also an exhibition by the Royal Thai Navy. Not to be confused with the far larger Trat Independence day which is held in March 23-27 and marks the day the province returned to Thai sovereignty after the French occupation.
Winter and Red Cross Fair (Phayao)
Where: at the ground near the Phayao Bus Terminal. Phayao Province Northern Thailand
There are a number of these end of year celebrations across the Kingdom, this event is to celebrate the end of the harvest and includes a traditional Thai fair ground with various rides and games, plus there will be a myriad of booths from government authorities telling the story of the province, from its beginnings as a small city-state Kingdom, to its time as part of the Kingdom of Lanna to its present position in the Kingdom of Thailand, along with local cultural performances, and various competitions.
Luang Pho Phet Worship Fair & Red Cross Fair
When: December 24 – January 3rd
Where: Wat Tha Luang. Phichit North Thailand
The Luang pho Phet (หลวงพ่อเพชร) is a type of image of the Buddha found in Thailand and depicts the Buddha sitting in the Diamond Lotus Position. The image housed in Wat Tha Luang, Phichit is one of Kingdom’s most important and is much visited.
The fair is in part to celebrate the image of the Buddha and to promote the province with its mixed and varied culture along with its diverse agricultural products and local handicrafts. The event also includes parades featuring local people in traditional clothes and stage presentations of traditional dancing.
Phraya Phichai Dap Hak and Red Cross Fair
Where: Phraya Phichai Dap Hak Stadium. Uttaradit Province
The event is organized to commemorate the heroic deeds of Phraya Phichai, or popularly known as Phraya Phichai Dap Hak (พระยาพิชัยดาบหัก; Phraya Phichai of the broken sword). He was a two sword wielding general and right hand man serving under the first and only King Of Thonburi, King Taksin, who together with Chao Phraya Chakri (later to be the first King of Chakri Dynasty) are credited for repelling the Burmese and reuniting Siam.
He gained the name ‘Phraya Phichai Dabhak’ or ‘Phraya Pichai Broken Sword’ in a battle in which he kept fighting (and won) even after one of his blades was broken in half.
There are traditional and cultural performances, along with various forms of entertainment and a ceremony to worship Phraya Phichai Dap Hak.
January Festivals in Thailand
The date and time of the above festivals may change as a result of the weather or postponement by the organisers of the events. To confirm the dates and times….. Call the Tourism Authority of Thailand 1672 or 0 2250 5500.