Thai life is punctuated by many holidays. Most of these festivals feature a spectacular parade, followed by evening performances of traditional theater and dance.
Don Chedi Memorial Fair (Suphanburi)
Week-long commemoration of Prince Naresuan’s victory over the Burmese (late January).
King Mengrai festival (Chiang Rai)
Festival celebrated in the north in honor of King Mentirai, founder of the Lan Na kingdom, with a parade and sound and light show (late January – early February).
Phra That Phanom Festival (Nakhon Phanom)
This week-long festival takes place around the most sacred stupa in north-east Thailand (late January).
Chinese New Year (Throughout Thailand)
It is the main festival of the Chinese community, celebrated with more festivities in predominantly Chinese towns, such as Nakhon Sawan, a few hours north of Bangkok. In Sampeng, Bangkok’s Chinatown, the festivities are in full swing.
Bo Sang Umbrella and Sankampaeng Handicrafts Festival (Chiang Mai)
A cultural event organized to honor and celebrate the local community responsible for making Thailand’s most famous umbrellas, which are skillfully painted and meticulously handcrafted using Sa fabric, an indigenous plant also known as mulberry bark.
Giant Straw Birds (Chainat)
Holiday celebrated in the south, which features giant birds made of rice straw (early February).
Flower Festival (Chiang Mai)
The great northern city pays tribute to its most famous flower production with processions, decorated chariots and beauty contests. (early February)
Makha Bucha (National Day)
A major Buddhist festival during which candlelight processions take place around the main temples in the evening to commemorate the day when 1250 Buddha disciples gathered to listen to his teachings. Caged birds are sold for release to bring good luck to the benefactors who set them free (March 6, 2023).
Wat Phra Phutthabath Fair (Saraburi)
Thousands of pilgrims flock to this small town to pay homage to a sacred footprint of the Buddha (early March).
Singing Dove Festival (Yala)
A festival celebrated in the south, featuring bird shows and dove-singing competitions (mid-March).
Thao Suranari Fair (Nakhon Ratchasima)
Tribute paid to the warrior heroine who resisted the Laotian forces who came from Vientiane to lay siege to the town (late March).
Songkran (National holiday and Buddhist New Year)
The Thai New Year, also known as the “WATER FESTIVAL”, takes place from April 13 to 15 each year.
To celebrate this festival, everyone sprinkles water on each other in a joyful atmosphere as part of purification rituals. The monks bring out the Buddha statues, which the faithful venerate by pouring water over their feet. Songkran festival lasts a week in Chiang Mai.
Poy Sang Long Festival (Northern provinces of Thailand)
The Poy Sang Long Festival is a traditional Buddhist ceremony celebrated by the Shan ethnic group in Thailand, particularly in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son. The festival is a significant rite of passage for young Shan boys, marking their initiation into the monastic life as novice monks (fin avril).
Royal Ploughing Ceremony (Bangkok)
This Hindu ploughing ceremony takes place every year at Sanam Luang to promote the harvest (early May).
Visakha Puja (National Holiday)
Celebrates the anniversary of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. It’s a public holiday for the Thais. They go to the temple to bring offerings in candlelit processions. (Early May).
Rocket festival (Northeast of Thailand)
This festival, which is typical of the northeastern region and takes on a special splendor in the town of Yasothan, is marked by the launching of rockets to invoke rain (Mid-May).
Candle festival (Ubon Ratchthani)
The Candlelight Festival features a grand parade of over a hundred superbly decorated floats, accompanied by dancing, music and numerous cultural events (mid-July).
Khao Phansa (Celebrated throughout Thailand)
A very popular holiday, it marks the entry of young people into the monastery for the Buddhist Lenten period. For 3 months, the monks were on retreat.
A large number of ordinations are celebrated during this period. After the fast, the monks come out of the temples and are offered their new saffron robes and food.
Asalaha Puja (National Holiday)
Commemoration of the Buddha’s first sermon in all the country’s temples. (Full moon of July)
Narathiwat Fair (Narathiwat)
This week-long Muslim festival features boat races, dove-singing competitions and demonstrations of traditional martial arts (end of September).
Phichit Boat Races (Phichit-Nan-Nakhon Phrom)
These Longerais boat races take place all over Thailand during the rainy season. The most famous event takes place in Nan, Nakhon Phanom and Phichit (early September).
Vegetarian Festival (Phuket)
The great Chinese vegetarian festival with parade, cultural events and demonstrations of self-mortification. The ceremony, including ritual practices, is observed with great reverence. To purify body and mind, the Chinese impose a vegetarian diet on themselves during the first 9 days of the 9th or 10th month of the lunar calendar.
Every day, various ceremonies take place in Chinese temples, as well as processions, spectacular demonstrations of numbing suffering. To gain more merit, the Chinese walk on embers, piercing their cheeks and bodies with sabers, knives or sharp objects.
The first festival was held in 1825 when, according to legend, members of an opera troupe from China, then touring the island, fell seriously ill (late September/early October).
Wax Candle Festival (Sakhon Nakhon)
End of Buddhist Lent and retreat coinciding with the rainy season, communities in northeast Thailand celebrate with boat races and a spectacular float parade with giant candles and beauty queens.
To mark the end of Buddhist Lent, communities in Northeast Thailand stage an annual celebration consisting of a grand procession of intricately carved wax castles, longboat races and other festive celebrations. On the last day of the festival, which falls at the end of Buddhist Lent, local residents make a merit-making trip to the temples (mid-October).
Wan Ok Phansa (Throughout Thailand)
On the last day of the festival, which falls at the end of Buddhist Lent, local residents make a merit-making trip to the temples (mid-October).
Loy Krathong (National Holiday)
A magnificent festival featuring parades, beauty contests and, in the evening, the launching of offerings to pay homage to Mae Kong Ka, the deity of the waters, and to thank her for her generosity during the monsoon season. These curious floating offerings are made from banana leaves adorned with flowers, candles and three sticks of incense, bearing the vow they wish to be granted. It’s also the occasion to release lanterns (mid-November).
Wat Saket Fair (Bangkok)
Celebration of the city’s largest temple, with traditional dance and theater, contemporary performances and a candlelit procession around Wat Saket’s Golden Mountain (mid-November).
River Kwai Historical Week (Kanchanaburi)
A week of festivities to commemorate the events of the Second World War, with exhibitions, remembrance ceremonies and a sound and light show on the famous River Kwai Bridge (late November).
Surin Elephant Roundup (Surin)
A tribute to this emblematic animal, a national symbol, gave rise to parodies of elephant hunting, rodeos and a polo match contested by pachyderms, much to the delight of visitors (late November).
King’s Birthday (Throughout Thailand)
Celebration of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s birthday, with a parade down Rachadamoen Klang Avenue (December 5).
Chiang Mai Winter Fair (Chiang Mai)
A major winter festival, with cultural events, beauty contests and a grand parade (late December).