Thai Festivals You Shouldn't Miss!

People watching fireworks during festivities. Thai festivals are the perfect way to enjoy and experience the diverse and unique culture of Thailand.

Thailand is a country that is famous for its various festivities. The year 2023 is set to be a great year, with exciting Thai festivals you shouldn’t miss! From traditional centuries-old events to modern festivals that reflect the country’s evolving culture, Thailand’s unique celebrations are something everyone and anyone can enjoy.

If you are set on vacationing in Thailand, what better time to go than during one of its many festivities? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular events that are set to take place this year. Mark your calendars to make sure you won’t miss these must-experience celebrations.

Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2023
February 3-5, 2023

The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is an annual celebration of flowers and ornamental plants. The event lasts for three days, starting on the first weekend of February, which marks the end of the cool season. During the festival, the streets of Chiang Mai are adorned with colorful flowers, from yellow chrysanthemums to damask roses.

Parades, flower displays, and beauty pageants take place on the streets of Chiang Mai. The Flower Festival Parade begins in the morning of Saturday, continuing into the afternoon or evening. The parade lines up along Charoen Muang Road from the Nawarat Bridge to the train station.

Western-style marching bands from local schools and dancers in traditional costumes are interspersed among the floats. Thai dancers and those taking part in the parade often hand out flowers to spectators. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2023 is sure to tickle your fancy.

Songkran Water Festival
April 13-15, 2023

Thailand is best known for its annual Songkran Festival, which is celebrated for three days in April. This three-day festival, also known as the water festival, marks the traditional Thai New Year, which is a time for the people to clean their homes and make merit at temples.

The festival is famous for water-throwing, which participants experience on the streets of major cities all over the country. Songkran is a time for people to cool off from the hot weather, cleanse themselves from the impurities of the past year, and have fun with friends and family. If you missed the exciting Thai New Year of 2023, there’s always next year! So be sure to mark your calendar for your next Thailand visit.

Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival
May 12-13, 2023

Bun Bang Fai is a merit-making ceremony traditionally practiced by the Lao people at the beginning of the wet season in the regions of Northeastern Thailand and Laos. The festival is the celebration of the rainy season and the fertility it brings. As the name suggests, participants launch homemade rockets into the sky as a way of bringing rain to their crops.

Bun Bang Fai lasts for 2-3 days, with the first and second days featuring music and dance performances, competitive float processions, and culminating on the third day in the competitive firing of homemade rockets. The final day begins with dance performances and shows, but the most critical aspect of the event is the launching of the rockets.

The rocket launching competition is judged by a panel of locals who take into consideration the beauty and distance the rocket travels into the sky. Rockets that misfire are disqualified and the owners are either thrown into a puddle of mud or covered entirely in it.

This Thai festival is believed to evolve from Buddhist fertility rituals held to celebrate the coming of the monsoon season. It also reflects elements of Lao folk culture. The festival is observed just before the crop plantation period begins.

A Buddhist temple where Thais make merit during festivals. Making merit at the temples is often done during Thai festivals, which are rooted in the Buddhist religion.

Phi Ta Khon Festival
June 23-25, 2023

The Phi Ta Khon Festival is held in Dan Sai, Loei province, Isan, Thailand. It takes place over three days between March and July. The next date for the festival is slated for Friday, June 23, 2023 - Sunday, June 25, 2023. The event is called Bun Luang, which is part of a Buddhist merit-making holiday also known as Bun Phawet.

The festival is a celebration of Buddha’s return, which is one of the biggest festivals in Thai culture. It entails a trident of festivals known as the Bun Luang. The Wan Ruam is held on the first day of the event, which features the main Phi Ta Khon festival involving a dazzling display of creative costumes parading the streets.

On the second day, there is a procession representing the return of Prince Vessantara. The procession is greeted with bamboo rockets, launched to entice the gods to deliver a bountiful rainy season and a successful harvest.

On the final day, locals gather at the temple to listen to monks reciting the 13 sermons of Vessantara in his previous life. The festival is dominated by ubiquitous ghost-like handmade costumes. As a visitor, it pays to know what to wear during such events.

Masks are worn by festival-goers, which are often made from bamboo sticky rice steaming baskets, meticulously hand-painted in an array of colors. Some costumes might also feature a massive phallus blended into the masks, symbolizing fertility.

Vegetarian Festival
October 10-18, 2023

The Vegetarian Festival, despite its name, is one of Thailand’s more gruesome celebrations. Not for the faint of heart, the event features daring rituals that are held to invoke the gods. The ceremonies take place in six Chinese temples throughout Phuket, Thailand.

The first event is the Lantern Pole raising, which signals to the nine Chinese gods that the festival is about to begin, bringing spiritual power to the celebration. The local Chinese and Thai community bring their household gods to the temple and offer food and drink to the gods for the next few days. Visitors who take part in the event can indulge in specially prepared vegetarian cuisine at street stalls and markets.

Rituals take place on the streets where devotees perform daring feats to invoke the gods, such as crossing a bridge while in a trance-like state, running across a bed of burning coals, and climbing an eight-meter ladder of sharp blades.

Then it gets a bit more extreme. Men and women who partake in the rituals then puncture their cheeks with various items, including knives, skewers, and other household items, such as a metal chair, and a lamp stand. Firecrackers are set off at random throughout the festivities.

The last ceremony of the Vegetarian Festival happens on the last night when all shrines join a street procession in Phuket Town called the Nine Emperor Gods Farewell.

Thailand Lantern Festivals
November 1, 2023

There are two iconic scenes during the Lantern Festivals in Thailand: the Yi Peng Lantern Festival, where swarms of sky lanterns are launched into the night sky, and the Loy Krathong Festival, where thousands of lotus-shaped baskets with flowers and candles are sent floating on the rivers at night.

These lantern festivals usually occur on the day of the full moon in November. Yi Peng is set to take place on November 27-28, 2023, while Loy Krathong will take place on November 28.

The difference between both lantern festivals is that Loy Krathong is a nationwide celebration while Yi Peng is only celebrated in northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the only place in Thailand where you can see both lantern festivals on the same day.

Sky lanterns are released into the night sky. A swarm of sky lanterns float into the night sky as locals and visitors celebrate one of the light festivals, Yi Peng, in Thailand.
  • Yi Pen

    - Also known as Thailand’s floating lantern festival, it is a former Lanna kingdom festival celebrated in Northern Thailand, with the largest celebrations held in Chiang Mai, the former kingdom’s ancient capital. Yi means “two” and peng means “full moon day.” The highlight of the festival is the numerous sky lanterns sent to float up into the sky — hence Yi Peng is also known as the Sky Lantern Festival. Unleashing the lanterns, called khom loi in Thai, is believed to release negative energy. Participants also wish for good luck and fortune in the coming year.
A photo of lotus-shaped water lanterns during Loy Krathong Water lanterns are released into rivers during Loy Krathong to get rid of negative thoughts and energy.
  • Loy Krathong

    - The Thai festival Loy Krathong occurs on the night of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. It is popularly known as the Thailand Lights Festival. Lotus-shaped baskets adorned with flowers and candles are released onto the rivers and waterways to give thanks to the goddess of water. The festival also marks the end of the rainy season and the start of the cool season. Loy means “to float” in Thai and krathong is a small container — the festival literally means “to float a basket.” Loy Krathong is believed to be a purification ceremony to enlighten the mind and bring good fortune to participants. Event-goers often place hair and fingernails inside the basket, symbolizing letting go of negative thoughts and past mistakes.

Don't Miss Out On These Exciting Thai Festivals!

The year 2023 is set to be a great year for celebrating Thai festivals. Whether you are interested in traditional events or modern festivities, we’re sure you’ll find a festival that you won’t want to miss! You can bring family, friends, or your Thai date to one or more of these Thai celebrations and experience a unique slice of Thailand culture.

Visiting Thailand during these festivals is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the country’s vibrant culture and atmosphere while allowing you to meet new people and create lasting memories.

Many other festivals take place throughout Thailand each year. So if you are interested in discovering the beauty and diversity of Thailand, you can join us in one of our guided tours around the country. No matter which festival you choose to attend, we’ll ensure that you are treated to a unique and unforgettable experience!

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