Events & Festivals in Chiang Mai
Songkran Festival – April
April is the hottest month of the year in Thailand. It is the one time you can throw a bucket of water over anybody. And we accept the water with a smile and say Sawadee pii mai (Happy Thai New Year).
Songkran is the traditional Thai New Year celebration which includes pouring water over the Buddha Image and the elderly, enjoying cultural performances in the Northern style as well as eating various food along the streets. Almost every Thai person takes seven days off from work to celebrate the Thai New Year all around the country.
April 13 is called “Sang Khan Long”. It’s a day to clean house and wash the household Buddha images with scented water for a fresh start for a new year.
In Northern Thailand, April 14 is called “Wan Nao“. On the first day of the year, people offer food to monks and share some food with friends and family. The traditional sayings for New Year’s Day are “Do not do anything evil.” or “Do not speak rudely to others.”
Loi Krathong Festival – November
Loi Krathong Festival is on the day of the first full moon of the second month of the Northern Thai calendar (“Yi” meaning “second” and “Peng” meaning “month” in the Northern Thai language). This is usually in November of the Western calendar. Loi means “to float” and a krathong is a lotus-shaped boat decorated with by banana leaves, flowers, candle, and incense sticks. During the festival many krathongs are floated in the river and they can make a water pollution problem. Some Thais use bread and banana leaves instead of foam so that the krathong becomes food for the fish and other animals and it degrades faster.
In Chiang Mai, Loy Kratong is held to celebrate a Buddhist ceremony. In Chiang Mai people here enjoy making khom loi which means that floating balloon in lights. The lantern is a large frame made of bamboo and covered with rice paper to which a candle or fuel cell is attached. When the fuel cell is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside the lantern to fill it up and create enough lift for the khom loi to float up into the sky as high as 1,250 meters and even farther away.
The floating of the khom loi is one of the most spectacular events which can be seen at Tha Pae Gate or by the Ping River. Vendors also sell the lanterns so you can have the chance to light one yourself. Festival activities include a parade as well as a Miss Yi Peng Contest.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a three-day festival held during the first weekend in February each year when Chiang Mai’s temperate and tropical flowers are in full bloom. Most of the festival takes place in the public garden of Suan Buak Haad on the south-western corner of the moat.
The road next to the moat all around the park is closed to traffic, and vendors of plants, Thailand flowers, Thailand orchids and garden decorations set up their stalls there. On Saturday morning, the Flower Festival Parade lines up along Charoen Muang Road, all the way from the Nawarat Bridge to the train station. At 8 AM, the parade moves up Tha Pae Road to Tha Pae Gate and then turns left and follows the moat round to Suan Buak Haad.
The flower parade moves very slowly, and stops frequently, so there is no need to rush to take photographs of the gaily decorated floats, pretty girls, and hill tribe people in their colorful costumes. Dancers in traditional costumes perform Thai dances, and those taking part in the flower parade hand out roses to the spectators.