The number of festivals in Thailand is immense. Very sanuk! There always seems to be some festival or other taking place somewhere, especially between November and February. Many festivals are related to Buddhist rituals, such as pilgrimages. They follow the lunar calendar, and hence the dates vary in our calendar.
April: Songkran (New Year) is celebrated in mid-April. Buddha statues are washed with perfumed water, respect is shown to monks by the sprinkling of water over the monk’s hands and houses are given a thorough cleaning. The crowds are cooled with ditch and ice water during the festivities, which are held when the weather is at its warmest. Tourists can also expect to be drenched by happy, smiling Thai folk. If you wish to remain dry on this day, it is best that you shut yourself up in your hotel room.
May: The rocket festival is held in the North and North-East. Fireworks are set off in their thousands in order to bring plenty of rain for good harvests over the following year. Dance processions make their way through the streets, accompanied by scores of beating drums.
November: Loy Krathong, the festival of floating lights, is one of the most beautiful festivals. It is held by rivers and canals in the evening, when the moon is full. Lotus-shaped boats containing a candle float by, decorated with flowers, coins and incense.
December: On the 5th of December, King Bhumibol’s birthday is celebrated. The celebrations are very exuberant, particularly in Bangkok. Queen Sirikit’s birthday, the 12th of August, also sees celebrations. Father’s day coincides with the King’s birthday, and Mother’s Day with the Queen’s, and these coinciding celebrations are noticeable amongst the birthday festivities.