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Thailand: What's on when

January

Bo Sang Umbrella Fair

This colourful festival is held in the streets of Bo Sang, 6 kilometres east of the city of Chiang Mai, each January. The festivities include contests, cultural performances and numerous stalls selling traditional paper umbrellas and handicrafts.

February

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Each year a flower festival takes place in Chiang Mai city. Celebrations include a parade of flower- covered floats, a beauty pageant and a flower-arranging competition.

March

Cha-am International Kite Festival

This festival is held in Cha-am, in central Thailand, and attracts visitors from across the globe. Kite fanatics gather for kite, parachute and radio-controlled air-plane displays.

April

Songkran

Songkran is a three-day celebration of Thai New Year. It coincides with New Year in many south and south-east Asian countries. The celebrations begin with housewives cleaning their home. All images of Buddha must also be cleaned, as this is believed to bring good fortune to the household. A water fight occurs each year as part of tradition, where participants of all ages throw water on each other to symbolise cleansing of the body.

May

Wisakha Bucha Day

This is the most important event in the Buddhist calendar. The celebration takes place on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. Wisakha Bucha Day commemorates the day that Buddha was born, became enlightened, and died. Devout Buddhists go to temple – usually taking flowers and offerings with them. There are candlelight processions and parties and parades to celebrate.

June

Phi Ta Khon

Phi Ta Khon, or The Ghost Festival, is a three-day celebration held in Dan Sai in Loei province. The date is decided by spirit doctors, but it is usually held on the first weekend after the sixth full moon of the year. Residents of Dan Sai ask the spirit of the Mun River for protection on the first day of celebrations, and people gather for games and processions.

July

Wan Khao Phansa

Wan Khao Phansa is the beginning of Buddhist lent and traditionally candles and robes are presented to monks to light the temples during the rainy season. This practice is still present today. Parades, pageants and performances are held, but Buddhists abstain from drinking and smoking during this time.

August

Hungry Ghost Festival

The Hungry Ghost Festival takes place during full moon of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival is celebrated in Phuket, Chiang Mai and Bangkok, amongst other places. In Phuket the holiday is called Por Tor. Seng Tek Bel Shrine hosts celebrations for seven days and seven nights. During Por Tor, special food, flowers and candles are offered on altars to the ancestors. The Ranong Road food market is specially decorated for the festival and activities such as magic shows, cabaret shows and live concerts take place here.

September

Vegetarian Festival

Each September a nine-to-ten day vegetarian festival is held in Thailand. This is a spiritual festival with abstinence and purity as its focus. The festival originates from Chinese Taoist practices, but has been adopted by the Thai Buddhist population who embrace vegetarianism to a degree. Special vegetarian dishes are prepared throughout Thailand, and many restaurants will offer special menus for the duration of the festival.

October

Naga Fireball Festival

Each October unexplained Naga fireballs rise out of the Mekong River and shoot into the sky. The number, and intensity, of the fireballs increases around full-moon. A two-day festival is held in the region and includes long-tail boat races and sound-and-light shows.

November

Lopburi Sunflower Festival

This festival takes place in Lopburi, and nearby Saraburi, in central Thailand. The festival begins when the sunflowers bloom, and ends in January or February. Over weekends thousands of people from Bangkok head out of the city to Lopburi to take photos in the abundant sunflower fields. Some farmers offer elephant or cart rides to the public.

December

Bangkok Street Show

The most successful outdoor festival in Thailand takes place in mid-December at Lumphini Park in Bangkok. This weekend-long event includes performances such as mime, juggling, acrobatics, contortion, fire-eating and sword-swallowing.