Thailand Events May 2016
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Thailand Events May 2016. While Songkran takes centre stage in the Kingdom every April, the month of May is slightly less manic and is more about the Royal Family, Buddhism, agriculture shows and the manic arms race that takes place across the Northeast of the country every- year
The actual dates of festivals across the Kingdom are never easy to pin down as they are defined by all manner of calendars and other strange and wonderful reasons see more.
The following events are the best from across the Kingdom
Coronation Day (วันฉัตรมงคล-wan chat-mong-kol). When the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, get the chance to pay their respects to “Their King”
When: Annually on the 5th May (Public Holiday)
Where: Grand Palace in Bangkok and Across the Country
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the ninth King of the Chakri Dynasty and on the 5th May each year the people of this grateful nation celebrate their Kings coronation. While the King has reigned since 9 June 1946 he was not crowned until the 5th May 1950. In doing so he was the first King of Thailand to have a coronation ceremony, prior to this there was a private function only attended by royalty and high ranking officials, the King chose to celebrate his crowning with his people and so became the first king to break with a centuries old tradition and have a public coronation.
The love and reverence the Thai people have for his majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and the monarchy in general is often difficult for outsiders to fully comprehend, but it is there for all to witness in the faces of its people when they come to pay their respects to “Their King” on this most special of days.
For more on what is really a 3 day event click here
Thailand Events May 2016
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
A combination of two religions and three Ceremonies and the only ‘Royal Ploughing Ceremony’ still to be held in South East Asia.
When: Date TBA From 8:19am to 8:49 am.
Where: Grand Palace and the fields of Sanam Luang. Bangkok.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an ancient rite dating back over 2,500 years and heralds the start of the new rice-growing season. The event is usually in May, with the actual date determined by the king’s own Brahmin astrologers.
While the ceremony was once a purely Brahmin ritual it is now split into two distinct religious events combined into one Royal Ceremony. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok hosts the Buddhist element while the Hindu part is held five minutes’ walk due north on the open fields of Sanam Luang, Bangkok.
For more on the three separate events that make up this ancient ceremony click here
In celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha
When: Full moon of the month of Visākha. In 2016 it falls on the 1st June
Where: Across Thailand
The Meaning of Visakha Bucha
Visakha Bucha (วันวิสาขบูชา), pronounced Wisakha Bucha in Thai, is the most important religious holiday in the Thai Buddhist calendar. Bucha means ‘Worship’. It is also known as Wesak orVesak, Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day.
The day is to celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha. According to the Theravada Buddhist traditions observed in Thailand (95% of the population is recognised as Theravada Buddhist), these three events all took place on the same day of the year, on the full moon day of the Indian lunar month of Vesakha.
The Buddha’s enlightenment took place on his thirty-fifth birthday and he passed away on his eightieth birthday. Wisaka, the sixth lunar month, usually falls in May.
For more on the day and the associated National Tree Day click here
Thailand Events May 2016
The Tradition of Buddha Cremation (ประเพณีถวายพระเพลิงพระบรมศพพระพุทธเจ้า)
When: After Visakha Bucha Day
Where: Wat Phra Borom That Thung Yang along road 102, just a few kilometres west ofUttaradit
This unique one of a kind religious ritual is seen nowhere else in Thailand. It features the re-enactment of the funeral ceremony for the Lord Buddha. With the backdrop of the ancient temple the event includes both monks and local people in traditional dress presenting flowers to the statue of Buddha, later while flames consume the statue, the scene climaxes with a firework display that bathes the whole area in a multitude of colourful lights.
Sukhothai Mini-Light and Sound show
When: 6th May 2016
Where: At Wat Sra Sri Sukhothai Historical Park Sukhothai
The former Thai capital city of Sukhothai will once again present a series of the mini-light and sound presentation with one show per month scheduled between February and September 2016. The show consists of classical performances, fireworks display and a Loi Krathong scene starts from 19.00 hrs and lasts about 1.5 hours. Visitors can listen to the narration in several languages including English, Japanese, French and German. At the event, visitors can take part by taking photograph with the performers, floating a Krathong or launching a hot-air balloon, Best of all its FREE.
The title ‘Mini Light Show’ does not do this event justice as while it cannot compete against the major shows staged at the same venue for Loy Krathong Festival in November, they are still a wonderful presentation of the former capitals glorious past.
Sukhothai, which literally means “dawn of happiness”, is located 439.7 km north of Bangkok or about four-five hours by car or 1 hour 15 minutes by air.
Nonthaburi Fruit Fair
When: Annually mid April – to the beginning of June
Where: Rip-rap court in front of the old city hall, Muang District. Nonthaburi province Central Thailand
Nonthaburi Province is renowned for growing the best durian in the country, where it has been grown for over 400 years. The fruit is known as “Durian Nont” which means durian from Nonthaburi Province. It is also known as the most expensive durian in the world. If you like your fruit why not stop in at the Nonthaburi Fruit Fair There are plenty of stalls and booths selling fruits, such as mangosteen, santol, Burmese grape, mango and of course Durian amongst other tasty local fruits. Plus a huge selection of flowering and decorative plants produced in Nonthaburi
Contact Nonthaburi Provincial office of Tourism and Sport Bangkra-Sor, Nonthaburi 11000, Thailand Tel. 0-2589-5479
Koh Chang’s Food and Fruit Festival
When: 1 Apr – 31 May 2016
Where: Koh Chang Municipal Office Koh Chang, Trat Southwestern Thailand
Koh Chang is the second largest island after Phuket and benefits both from an abundance of sea and land produce which it proudly showcases during this event. This is your opportunity to try the famous and uniquely tasting Chani Durian or as it is commonly known as the “Koh Chang Durian” which has a hint of salt to its normal smelly but tasty flesh. You can expect to find a vast array of locally produced agricultural products and freshly caught fish and shell fish along-side a magical assortment of traditional handicrafts, there are also a number of various stage performances featuring the local Thai culture.
For more info contact: Koh Chang Municipal Office Tel. 039-586176 Koh Chang agricultural office Tel. 039-586180
While April is undoubtedly the month of Songkran, May is the month of ‘Rockets’. These huge pyrotechnics are more the ‘WMD’ proportion than the fireworks that most of us would have encountered. They come in all shapes and sizes from the cylindrical to massive sky bound cartwheels that reach high into the day time sky and which in turn seem to get bigger and bigger each year. (You Tube)
Rocket Festivals (known as Bun Bang Fai) take place throughout Isan (North East Thailand) prior to the start of the rainy season, May-June, with the exact dates specific to each village. Traditionally this ancient festival lasts for 2-3 days.
The Bun Bang Fai is a time when local people will let their hair down and party before the hard work of planting begins, with the new season’s rainfall. The time is one of joy and merit making with food and drink in evidence everywhere all wrapped up in a carnival atmosphere.
For more on these festivals including many more pictures and details on the three biggest annual events click here
Thailand Events May 2016
Yasothon Rocket Festival
When: 8-10th May 2015 (2016 TBA)
Where: Phaya Thaen Park Yasothon. 1.8 kms south west of the main Yasothon bus station
Thailand Events May 2016
This is undoubtedly the largest rocket festival in the region and as with the majority of rocket festivals across Northeast Thailand the event is spread over three days but Yasothon has its own twist to what can only be described as an ‘Arms Race’.
It is worth noting that the origins of this festival goes back centuries and has its roots firmly steeped in ancient fertility rites. This is most pronounced in this festival in the phallic symbols that are everywhere and the bawdy behavior of some of the participants, who amid the riotous festive atmosphere, join in the parade by cross-dressing, both cross-sex and cross-generational and the air is full of smutty (yet inoffensive) humor.
“This festival is truly a unique spectacular and if you are lucky to be in the vicinity during this magical, comical and at times raunchy event do bring both your sense of humour and a set of ear defenders as you will need both in equal measure. The whole festival promises to be a rollercoaster of a weekend”.
For more on the festival, expected dates, location and heaps more pictures click here
When: 6 – 8th May 2015 (2016 TBA)
While the festival name may not fill your imagination with images of dragons and witchcraft, this melting pot of faith and culture demonstrates in a most colourful way just how diverse the people of Thailand are and how the Kingdom has benefited by welcoming ethnic groups from all over Asia.
The Ngan Bun Klang Ban and Phanat Nikhom Basketwork Festival, (งานบุญกลางบ้าน และเครื่องจักสานพนัสนิคม) is by its very name a combination of two events ‘Ngan Bun Klang Ban’ (roughly meaning to ‘Work Together Traditional Fair’) This ancient festival is to celebrate the coming together of three distinct groups of people; the original ethnic Thai’s, Lao and Chinese communities.
For more on the event including why these 3 ethnic people were brought together, some of their shared spiritual beliefs and more click here
Thailand Events May 2016
Chanthaburi Fruit Festival 2016
Chanthaburi fruit festival is a fruit lover’s paradise offering fresh-picked tropical fruits from local orchards
When: Annually one week in May
Where: Chanthaburi Stadium and throughout the province.
This festival has been known by a number of names over the years and was once had the lofty title of the ‘World Durian Festival’ while the Tourism Authority of Thailand now calls it the less grand name that of the Chanthaburi Fruit Festival. What-ever it is called it is normally held in May each year and held over a one week period at the Chanthaburi Stadium and at venues throughout the province.
The event celebrates of the vast amount of tropical produce grown in the orchards surrounding Chanthaburi city, which is renowned as a rich agricultural region near Thailand’s eastern border with Cambodia and produces half of Thailand’s durian crop
It’s then not surprising that the most popular fruit, of course, is the Durian, aka, the king of fruits. Loathe it of love it (It is barred from many flights, trains, hotels and closed areas due to its pungent smell) this football-size fruit with its outer spiny armour-like casing, protects the inner 10 or so seeds the size of dates, each covered with a thick, custardy, off-white “meat”, the only edible part of the fruit is as much a cultural icon in Southeast Asia as it is a treasured, eagerly anticipated food.
Durians have a limited season and an extremely short shelf life and so are expensive, and purchasing one is treated by its devotees as a solemn, smelly ritual: only by odor can you determine whether a durian is truly ripe. Not surprisingly for so valued a fruit, all parts of the durian tree are used in folk medicine, with the flesh itself being regarded as an aphrodisiac.
Not every-one is a fan of this acquired fruit with some even going as far as to write:
“It tastes like completely rotten mushy onions” – Andrew Zimmern, host of Bizarre Foods
“Like eating raspberry blancmange in the lavatory” – Anthony Burgess, author
Whatever your thoughts on the King of Fruits this festival allows you to try it, in all its varies forms along with numerous other fruits grown locally.
For more on the festival and this divisive fruit click here
Phrathat Si Song Rak Fair
The fair is to celebrate that two opposing armies did not spill each other’s blood and whose alliance kept both Kingdoms free from Burmese occupation.
When: Annually usually late April – early May (The full moon day of the 6th lunar month)
Where: Wat Phra That Si Song Rak Dan Sai district Loei Northeastern Thailand
This fair is to celebrate the age old bond between the Thai people of Northern Loei and their boarder kin of southern Lao and is in the main a spiritual event combined with a great deal of colour and pageantry. The spiritual element is centered around cleaning of the Buddha images, a quiet and respectful lighting candle ceremony combined with a ceremony to ask for the rains to come and for the spirits to provide an abundant harvest.
The wat is a focal point of this event which always draws many thousands of people from all over the region and from neighboring Lao. Local residents and many social and educational institutions offer simple but colourful ‘Ton Puoeng’ to the Wat Monks, these inexpensive but lovingly made sacred offerings are unique to the festival and are placed all around the temple forming a colourful wall and the perfect backdrop for the many people who come to make merit and who dress in traditional local attire.
For more on the festival along with further pictures click here
When: Annually in May
Where: Muang district, Chiang Rai Northern Thailand
Here in the far north of Thailand, Chiang Rai has made a name for itself as one of the best places to try this wonderful produce, along with many other locally grown Asian fruits. As with almost all agricultural fairs in Thailand there will be a host of contests running side by side with a Miss Lychee beauty pageant, plus a myriad of cultural performances. The fair will also be your opportunity to buy a raft of beautiful local handicrafts along with the chance to let your taste buds run wild trying a multitude of local dishes and drinks.
For more on this festival and the health benefits of Lychee click here
Plajan or Loi Ruea Boat Floating Festival. Where the ancient beliefs of an ever adapting group of Sea Gypsies are blended with the music and dance from two continents.
When: On the full moon day in the sixth (14th May 2015) and the eleventh months (10th October 2015) of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival is over 3 days and nights.
Where: Phuket, Lanta Island & Krabi
The festivities are different to the Moken Festival held on the full moon in April, in both the size and shape of the boats that are built to take away bad karma from the villages and the fact that the Urak Lawoi incorporate song and dance into their events.
The ceremonies centre around the setting adrift of small model boats, (thought to represent the craft the people used on their migration north, but which are no longer in use). The launching of these intricately carved vessels bearing candles and tokens from the people is held at night, their purpose is to drive away evil and bring good luck, and it’s also believed that the boat will float back to their ancestral home at Gunung Jerai.
The three day and night ceremony also includes ancestor and spirit worshipping, fortune telling by the local Shaman, music performances and dances, including the Rong Ngeng dance. The dance is considered to be an innovation combining both Western and Eastern forms — Western footsteps with Eastern hand movements. The main musical instruments played include the Asian rammana drum and gong, and Western violin. The melodies are partly based on European folk songs, mixed with local songs and Muslim lullabies. The lyrics are Malay and learned by memory. (You Tube)
For more on these people and the festival click here
Phrathat Kham Kaen Fair
When: The full moon day of the 6th lunar month
Where: Phra That Kham Kaen Chedi Khon Kaen Northeast Thailand
The city (and later province of Khon Kaen) acquired its name from this ancient Laotian style Chedi which sits some 27 kms from the provincial capital in the grounds of Wat Chetiyaphum, the actual date of construction is believed to be prior to 1783.
Temples across Thailand have been used for eons as both a spiritual heart of a village plus a central meeting place and fairs in all their different guises have been a part of these rural communities for the same period. During the annual Phra That Kham Kaen fair, many thousands of people visit both the temple and the Chedi to make merit and pay homage to the Stupa and the Buddha relics held within it.
The fair is a time of joy when local people have the chance to sell and buy each other’s agricultural products and handicrafts and to take part or simply to admire time honored cultural and musical performances.
Phra That Kham Kaen is historically an important and highly revered Chedi for the people of the province and features prominently on Khon Kaen’s provincial seal, the reverence and importance of the Chedi is believed to come from an ancient legend.
The legend of the Tamarind Tree
The folk story goes something on the lines of; a former Khmer King ordered 9 senior monks to take relics of the Buddha to be enshrined in the soon to be finished, newly built Chedi of Wat Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom province, (approx. 295 kms northeast of Khon Kaen).
The monks on their way to Wat in Nakhon Phanom camped overnight near the stump of a dead tamarind tree on which the relics were placed. Some time later when they eventually arrived at the Wat Phra That Phanom, they found that the Chedi had already been completed and were unable to add the relics they had been carrying. The monks returned home travelling the same route as before, on returning to the site of the Dead Tamarind Tree, they found that as if by a miracle the tree was blooming again, sprouting new branches and leaves. Seeing this as a good omen, they chose to build a Chedi over the stump and to enshrine the relics they had been faithfully carrying. The name Phra That Kham Kaen Chedi literally means‘The Stupa of Tamarind Heartwood’
For more on the Chedi, Khon Kaen and why nine is a lucky number in Thailand click here
Thailand Events May 2016