Monday, 16 May 2011

Colourful Festivals in Thailand

Thai festivals you really can't miss....

In a country with a wealth of history and a diverse cultural spectrum Thailand has an array of religious, political and royal ceremonies to keep you celebrating year round. travelling to Thailand to experience one of these festivals will give you a real appreciation of Thai cultural, beliefs and you will see how the locals really celebrate life. The festivals climax late in the year with the majority of the most spectacular celebrations being held in October through to January so if you are thinking of planning a trip to Thailand why not check out our favourite places to be..

Tak Loy Krathong Sai festival: 17-21 Nov 2010

In the north of Thailand the Loy Krathong Sai festival of Lights is a beautiful night time event where Thai's float decorated Krathongs, (banana leaves folded into a circle, illuminated with candles, incense, and other decoration) - a real highlight of any Thailand holiday. The celebrations of Loy Krathong in Tak province is a celebration where the local custom is to thread coconut shell Krathongs together and float them in a candlelit chain down the Ping Riverin Amphoe Mueang Tak from the 200 year-old Rattanakosin Bridge. Stand by the riverside to watch this amazing sight and get a real feel for Thailand travel. The banana cup is intended to float away ill fortune as well as to express apologies to Khongkha or Ganga. Experience this amazing atmosphere which traditionally is performed on the full moon of the 12th lunar month.

Monkey Buffet festival: Last Sunday of November

This could be one of the strangest festivals you find in the world, where a feast of fresh fruit, nuts and desserts are laid on for one huge monkey buffet! It's a truly Thailand Travel experience and something that you won't forget in a hurry. Legend has it that the ancient hero Ramayana rewarded the Monkey King with the control of what is now Lopburi, and to this day the monkeys still rule the area around the two most sacred sites in the town.

Food will be offered to approximately 300 monkeys living in the area of the God of Death Shrine and Phra Prang Sam Yot. When the food is uncovered and the monkeys start to realise what is on offer and quickly take advantage of the amazing feast, gorging themselves with the all that they can get their hands on. Locals will also put out blocks of ice containing fruit which you can watch the monkeys licking furiously to get inside. It's definitely quirky and will certainly lend an eccentric tough to your Thailand trip.

As the monkeys are seen as a spiritual animal in the Buddhist religion, this offering is a great way to boost your karma and from the good health of these monkeys the local's karma must be at an all-time high. As the afternoon draws in you can see the monkey sitting around playing in a docile and content way often interacting with the passers-by. With the festival taking place just 2 hours north of Bangkok it is a great day out and a spectacle like none other you have ever seen. If you're travelling to Thailand in November, it's definitely something that you shouldn't miss.

Hat Yai Lantern festival: 1 Nov 2010 - 28 Feb 2011

In the deep south of the Thailand in Songkhla province the spectacular Hat Yai Lantern festival has become one of the most beautiful and diverse night time spectacles around, and is understandably popular with travellers to Thailand. This international festival lasts 4 months from 4pm till 9pm every night and the theme this year is the Seven Wonders of the World. The categories vary from animal planet, lanterns of the east, birds of paradise and many more. The lanterns are made from paper or cloth with bamboo frames and can be seen floating on the lake, hanging from structures, or flying in the sky. This year they also have an ice dome to display the frozen sculptures, but be sure to remember to wrap up as the dome reaches a chilly -9. This festival is held in the municipal park Hatyai Songkhla and so prebooking tickets in advance is advised. If you can't make it to the Lantern festival during your Thailand trip, you certainly won't regret it.

Trooping Of The Colour: 2nd December 2010

During your Thailand trip, you will find that the royal family are highly respected and honoured and so just before his Majesty King Rama IX birthday on the 5th of December the country celebrates his birth. This is celebrated with annual oath taking ceremony by the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Navy, and the Royal Thai Air Force. This impressive ceremony was first organised in 1961 and has become one of the most colourful event is Thailand festival calendar. It is celebrated in the Royal Plaza in Bangkok on the 2nd of December. As the king appears, flares are lit and you will feel the fantastic atmosphere as the Thais cheer for their king.

Sunflower festival: Nov 2010 - Jan 2011

Throughout the months of November to January flower lover's and Thailand travellers alike flock to the northern providences of Phatthana Nikhom and Khok Samrong to celebrate this beautiful flower. During the months of November to February the locals cover the town in sunflowers making everything yellow! With 12,000 acres of this flower in this province taking the train ride that runs along this area is a must. The state also runs special day trains to Pasak dam, on public holidays and during the weekend, where the view over the fields is regarded as one of the best.

Previously this flower was grown as a decorative addition to brighten up a Thai house, but now the region of Lop Buri harvest the flower for its oil and the seed snack are regarded as a valuable cash crop.

In the past the former capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya, was regarded too close to the sea in the event of invasion and so Lop Buri was developed as the second capital and so boasts king Nari's palace and 3 pagodas which the king would reside in during the wetter months. We definitely recommend including Ayutthaya as part of your Thailand trip.

Chiang Thai National Elephant Day March, 13

In a country where the elephant has been such a huge historical contribution in agriculture, transport as well as used in war, it is not unexpected that this majestic beast is regarded with so much respect. Many Thais see the outline of Thailand as the shape of an elephants head, with the main head to the north, the ears flapping back towards the east and the trunk running down the peninsular to the far south.

This festival is held in the Maesa elephant camp just outside Chiang Mai in the north of the country, and would be a true Thailand travel experience. This camp was set up for elephants that have had a hard working life and can now retire in peace and comfort. The festival starts around 12 noon and the entrance to the park is free for locals and people on holiday in Thailand.

Previously to become a working elephant, they would start their training at the age of 3 years old where they would be sent to elephant school. As the logging industry is now in decline, and with the large number of tourists visiting the country, elephants are used largely in the tourist industry to take visitors for rides through the jungle. This Thai festival pays respect and honour to these beasts in the form of a Kantoke feast laid on for the elephants as well as blessings and an exhibition by the veterinary medicine faculty of the Chiang Mai university on baby elephants.

Songkran Thailand's Water festival April 13th
If you happen to be on holiday in Thailand on the 13th April then be prepared for a shower. No it's not the monsoon season but rather the famous Songkran water festival!

As soon as you step out side be prepared for a water balloons, water pistols, water bombs and the odd bucket of water as the Thais celebrate their new year. This festival can last from 3 to 10 days and so when you think it is all over, along comes another barrage of Thais wielding make shift water cannons.

April in Thailand is one of the hottest months of the year and so this could not be a more apt festival. Songkran signifies the sun's shift from one zodiac to another and the start of the solar year which is the most important time for Thai people.

The first day of the year represents a new start and so temples are cleaned, houses washed down, and Thais pray to their god Buddha as well as sprinkling scented water on their elders to show respect. Water is a symbol of cleansing the spirit, the mind and the body. Bad luck is washed away and so if you are saturated at the end of the day, then consider yourself lucky as you have been blessed and ready for a new year, hopefully full of magic Thailand travel experiences!