Over the years, Thailand has increasingly become a favorite destination among tourists traveling to South East Asia for many reasons. The country has lots of fun activities, attractions, and year-round festivals to keep you engaged and excited throughout your visit. The locals are friendly, genuine, and always have welcoming smiles on their faces, such that the country is nicknamed the “Land of Smiles.” Discover and spend time in the parks, museums, palm-fringed coastlines, magnificent beaches, and beautiful temples that fill this region. And when it comes to festivals, this kingdom has a lot to celebrate with its rich traditions, culture, and heritage. With major festivals taking place all over the country to celebrations, some specific to cities, there are more than enough festivals to attend. To narrow down your search to only the best, check out our list of the most colorful festivals in Thailand.
1. Songkran Festival
The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit language, which means transformation or change, and the event was initially celebrated as the official New Year in the country until 1888. Even though it is no longer adopted as Thailand’s New Year, Songkran is still celebrated yearly as a grand festival. It takes place on the 13th of April annually, which is also a public holiday. In so many parts of the country, the celebration starts a week before with the cleaning and decoration of homes, streets, and the exchange of gifts. Enjoy a full week of laughter, fun, reflection, and don’t forget to whisper “sawatdee pi mai” (Happy New Year) to everyone you see.
Address:156/21 Phetchaburi Rd Bangkok, Thailand 10400
Website: Songkran Festival
Takes place: 13th - 15th April, 2020
2. Surin Elephant Festival
Elephants are an integral part of Thailand’s heritage as they were once used for travel, agriculture, and even wars. This event is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of these giants in many aspects of the country’s wellbeing. Don’t miss the excitement of this event with parades of elephants, which are being fed with vegetables and fruits. You will love the buzzing street and the sights of the elephants, dressed with paste and flowers. Take pictures with these lovely animals, and also catch some of their incredible and unbelievable shows.
Surin Elephant Festival
Address: Nok Mueang | Si Narong Stadium, Surin 32000, Thailand
Takes place: November
Price: 4 USD
3. Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival
This event is like nothing you have experienced before. Several sculptors from around the country and beyond assemble at Ubon Ratchathani to make and exhibit their candlewax crafts. It is a two-day event that features Thai traditional music and dance, and parades with large-scale candlewax sculptures. Another highlight of the fair is the lighting of candles in the shrine for happiness and peace. Check out the incredible exhibits lined up on the grounds, dance to the tune of the traditional music, and have a grand time with friends and family.
Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival
Address: Thung Si Muang,Nai Mueang, Ubon Ratchathani 34000, Thailand
Takes place:14th - 15th July, 2020
4. Phi Ta Khon, Isan
This event is the main attraction to the laidback village of Dan Sai in the northeastern part of the country. Experience the authentic tradition of Thai people in this fair, which involves a grand parade of girls, boys, and men in local regalia and masks. Some of the men carry wooden axes with handles or a Bhalad Khik, a large wooden phallic charm. Apart from experiencing this impressive parade, you can also visit the two main temples in the village, offering myriads of activities and traditional dancing on stage. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event you shouldn’t miss.
Phi Ta Khon, Isan
Address: Loei Province 201, Muang Loei, Loei, Thailand 42000
Takes place: June
5. Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival)
Join thousands of locals and tourists in this beautiful lantern festival that is held at Chiang Mai, yearly. Chiang Mai, the capital of the Lanna Kingdom, is a historical location, which is adorned with moats and ancient, worn-out buildings. The Yi Peng’s main highlight is the releasing of Chinese paper lanterns into the sky, which signifies being free from all the problems of the past year. Go early to find a great spot to maximize your participation, and also the magnificent views. You will also enjoy live music performances as you watch the incredible views of the night sky.
Yi Peng (The Lantern Festival)
Address: Royal Park Rajapruek & Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100
Website: Yi Peng - The Lantern Festival
Takes place: November
Price: 166 USD
6. Wing Kwai
Buffalo racing has been a tradition among Thailand’s farmers to appreciate the animals for their hard work in the fields and to mark the beginning of another sowing season. The buffalo is the main feature of the Wing Kwai, which includes buffalo racing and a beauty contest. The fair takes place in a carnival-like atmosphere close to the Chonburi City Hall. You will enjoy the thrills and the chattering of crowds as the buffalos’ race down the 328.1-feet (100-meter) long grounds. There are also food stalls on-site in case you need to refuel your energy.
Address: 50 Bangsaen Beach 1 Road, Tumbon Saensuk Amphur Muang, Chonburi 20130 Thailand.
Takes place: October
7. Lopburi Monkey Banquet
The biggest monkey banquet is in Lopburi, Thailand. Being quoted as 1 of the top ten strangest festivals in the world,...Posted by ASEAN Youth Organization on Friday, 21 March 2014
Monkeys are always welcomed in this country because the Thai people believe in a legend, which has it that Hanuman, a Hindu deity, rescued a god’s daughter from a demon on the country’s grounds. These animals are abundant in Lopburi, and the locals organize this festival annually to celebrate their existence. Come with your cameras and take shots and videos of how over 3,000 monkeys will devour the seeds, vegetables, fruits, kept for them in the town’s main temple area. However, the experience is better enjoyed from a distance.
Lopburi Monkey Banquet
Address: Tha Hin, Mueang Lop Buri District, Lopburi, Thailand
Takes place: November 28 - November 29, 2020
8. Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Do you enjoy seeing unbelievable and gruesome sights? Then you shouldn’t miss the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, a grand celebration, which takes place yearly in October. A month before the festival, the participants abstain from onions, garlic, meat, and other foods. During the event, they engage in body mortification – including laying on a bed of knives, walking on hot coals, and face piercings. They believe that these horrific acts will compel the gods to protect them from evil. Other highlights you will get to enjoy include energetic chanting, dancing, and fireworks. A piece of advice: this event is not for the faint-hearted.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Address: Phuket, Mueang Phuket District, Phuket, Thailand
Takes place: October 16 - October 25, 2020
9. Mekong Naga Fireballs
The Mekong Naga Fireballs is a fascinating event that takes place every October and welcomes thousands of people from around the globe. People gather around to see big reddish-pink balls of light rise from the river to the night sky without human involvement. Is this mysterious, or does it have scientific proof? Scientists claim that the event is due to the burning of Sulphur, which is in abundance due to the marshy state of the waterbody, while the locals believe that it is due to the divine intervention of Phaya Naga, a serpent-like creature. Whatever may be the case, you can’t miss the spectacular sights.
Mekong Naga Fireballs
Address: Nong Khai in North-East, Non Thai, Thailand
Takes place: October
10. Chinese New Year
While walking the streets of this beautiful country, you may wonder if the Thai people and the Chinese have the same origin. This is because of the high population of the Chinese in the country, which has also made the Chinese New Year a grand celebration. And if you want to experience the best of this fest, then you should hit Yaowarat, Bangkok’s Chinatown. Of course, Chinese offerings are the main highlights – including Chinese cuisines, traditional dragon dancers, and firecrackers in the sky. It is a whole weekend of laughter and glamor.
Chinese New Year
Address: Yaowarat Rd, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, Thailand
Takes place: January 24 - January 25, 2020
11. Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Thailand is a country with the most plant biodiversity in Southeast Asia, and Chiang Mai city is the origin of many of these plants. For this feature, the region is nicknamed “the Rose of the North,” with some rose species exclusive to the town. And this festival is a chance to see incredible displays of flowers from around the country. The three-day event features a procession of massive decorated flower floats, dancers adorned with local hill tribe and Thai tradition attires, and uniformed music bands marching through the town. Other highlights include Chiang Mai’s flower queen beauty pageant and plant-display competitions.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Address: Suan Bruk Haad, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Takes place: February 7 - February 9, 2020
12. Boon Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Boon Bang Fai is a two-day event that features the launching of massive locally-made rockets as a gesture to God for sufficient rain through the farming year. The noisy, two-day festival involves many participants who contest for the highest launch. The rockets are set into upward motion by stuffing the bamboo base with gunpowder and set on fire. Aside from the thrilling sights, you will also experience a beauty queen contest, folklore bands performances, street theaters, and street parades. You will enjoy the bustling and carnival-like atmosphere.
Boon Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Address: Phaya Thaen park, Yasothon, Yasothon, Thailand
Takes place: May
13. Loi Krathong
Loi Krathong is celebrated throughout the country, but you should consider attending the one held at Chiang Mai since it takes place at the same time as the Yi Peng. It is like attending two festivals with colorful sights – beautiful candle lights, flowing on the river for the Loi Krathong, and above, the views of Yi Peng’s paper lanterns. Both of these festivals have a common aim – to prevent bad luck. Aside from these incredible sights, you will also get to experience Thai and Lanna cultural performances, and taste their distinctive beverages, desserts, food, and snacks.
Address: Mae Sa, Chiang Mai 50180, Thailand
Takes place: October 31 - November 1, 2020
14. River Kwai Bridge Week
River Kwai Bridge Week (สัปดาห์สะพานข้ามแม่น้ำแคว) will be taking place from 28 November-7 December #ThailandPosted by Richard Barrow in Thailand on Thursday, 13 November 2014
This fest is celebrated to honor Asian workers and prisoners of war who constructed the Hellfire Pass, the Bridge of the River Kwai, and the famous Death Railway. The event, which takes place at Kanchanaburi, features a sound and light show of World War II, cultural performances, a concert, mini motor shows, exhibitions, and vendors selling local products. Aside from this fair, this town also has several other attractions – including the World War II Museum and Art Gallery, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, Underwater City, and much more to explore.
River Kwai Bridge Week
Address: River Kwai Bridge, Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Takes place: November
15. Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Festival
The Nang Yai or “large puppet” is a form of shadow theater, famous in ancient times (13th century), in which puppeteers dance with cutout leather shapes. These figures appear on a semi-transparent cloth screen and are very entertaining and beautiful to see. Although this visual art was nearly lost, efforts were made in the late 20th century to revive it, and this festival is one of those interventions. It takes place at Nang Yai Museum and highlights craft and art demonstrations, puppet show scenes from the Ramakien, and lots of folk performances from around the country.
Nang Yai Shadow Puppet Festival
Address: Nang Yai Museum, Wat Khanon, Ratchaburi
Takes place: April
16. Pai Jazz and Blues Festival
Great lineup of fantastic musicians at the second annual Pai Jazz and Blues Festival. : : : #paijazzandbluesfest #paijazzandbluefest2018 #jazz #blues #music #festival #pai #thailand #artinchaiPosted by Thomas Jose on Saturday, 21 July 2018
For music lovers, the Pai Jazz and Blues Festival has something spectacular for you. This fest takes place in Pai, a lush part of Thailand and a hidden gem of the valley. The event is more than a festival; it is also a tour of this region’s incredible offerings. The fair welcomes individuals and groups of musicians from around the country who will display their skills at restaurants, bars, and cafes around the city. Take your loved ones along to enjoy the natural scene of Pai, as well as local delicacies and beverages as you enjoy the jams of regional music.
Pai Jazz and Blues Festival
Address: Pai, Thailand (Vary Venues)
Website: Pai Jazz and Blues Festival
Takes place: July
Enjoy a unique experience
From the magnificent beaches, parks, museums, ancient structures, festivals, and smiles on the beautiful faces of the locals, there are more than enough reasons to visit this country. If you are a cultural or history buff, the festivals that are held year-round will keep you in high spirits throughout your stay. To enjoy out-of-the-world experiences of spectacular sights of lanterns in the night sky, lighted candles on the river, gruesome looks of mortified bodies, and more, hit these top festivals in Thailand.
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