National Children's Day or "Wan Dek" is celebrated annually on the second Saturday of January and is marked to honour the younger generation of the Thai population as well as teach children of their major role in the development and prosperity of the country they live in. This belief is backed up by the famous Thai saying which goes, "Children are the future of the nation, if the children are intelligent, the country will be prosperous". On this day, many special events are organised across Thailand in order to promote fun but at the same time create awareness and stimulate the children's understanding of their individual worth. The majority of places of interest within the young community such as zoos will typically allow children in for half price or even for free; guided tours, exhibitions and special invitations are made to children and their families by both the government offices and the Royal Thai Air Force in a bid to awaken children's curiosity across important sectors of society; and public activities held within communities are designed specifically for children within a youthful atmosphere containing plenty of entertainment in the form of music, dance and offering gifts. His Majesty the King will also make an appearance by giving a formal speech whilst the Prime Minister will create a slogan for the year.
Held usually during the first week of February, and falling on the day of the full moon of Kason in the Myanmar calendar, the 3-day Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a spectacular celebration of the blooming season. Known for its richness in budding flowers, and tagged the "Rose of the North", the province of Chiang Mai and its residents celebrate flower power by putting on a remarkable show complete with parades of decorated floats draped in flowers of all colours, huge floral displays, beauty pageants and local handicraft sales so you can take a souvenir home with you.
The Thai New Year is celebrated in the form of the Songkran Festival which is held nationwide but most popular among tourists in the seaside city of Pattaya and evermore in places like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Held annually during the month of April, the hottest month of the year, the Songkran Festival may last from a few days up to a week depending on the town; but whichever town you do happen to be in at the time, it's guaranteed to be a fun but soaking wet experience! So, if you enjoy a good water fight Thailand is certainly the place to go to! Friends and families will get together with water guns, hoses and anything that carries water and splash it on anyone and everyone that passes by in an innocent act of goodwill – to wash away the misfortunes of the past year, old grudges and welcome a fresh start. Completing the celebrations are parades, beauty contests, food festivals and vibrant firework displays.
Pay less and get more for every baht you spend during the exciting Thailand Grand Sales event. If you love yourself a good discount this annual event is one cannot afford to miss! Stretching across several weeks, starting in June through to July, it is also one of the best times to visit the country if you're travelling on a budget. With discounts everywhere in shopping malls to impressive department stores, touristic sites, hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, tour operators and car rentals, you'll encounter unbelievable bargains everywhere you go, no matter what the city. From discounts that can range from 10% to 70% or more, you can purchase clothes, brand name products, sports products, accessories, handicrafts, Thai silks and textiles at prices rarely seen anywhere else in the world. It will be a shopping spree like no other!
The July Candle Festival is a high-spirited and artistically impressive event held throughout Thailand which is linked to the Buddhist agenda and its long-running traditions. This two-day annual event starts on Khao Phansa day, or the day of the full moon, and marks the beginning of the rainy season as well as Buddhist Lent when monks traditionally retreat in temples across the country for a period of three-months. In ancient times, with no electricity, candles where the only source of light for these monks during their hide away which is why you'll find candles are the main focus of this enormous-scale event. Parades, religious processions and the most amazing candle artwork you'll ever witness are put on show for all to see and appreciate during the candle festival. It is a time when the country's most respected artists in addition to international artists put their talent to the test by carving elaborate designs and figures from small to large-scale candles made of beeswax. Most creations symbolise mythical Gods and stories as well as local religious beliefs. These stunning candles are then placed on floats and paraded on the streets before being presented to the temple to which they were made for. The largest and most famous of all festivals takes place in Ubon Ratchathani in Northeastern Thailand with major activities occurring at the Thung Sri Mueng temple. As in most festivals, there will be plenty of traditional music and dancing for extra entertainment.
The Vegetarian Festival is a spiritual festival that has to do with the purification of the body during a 9 or 10-day event whereby followers, mainly those of Chinese ancestry, follow a strict diet. Held near the end of September or early October, the event is marked by street-venders selling all kinds of vegetarian meals plus what some might consider the most entertaining part of the event which involves dramatic displays including walking over burning coals, ascending sharp-bladed ladders and self-mutilation involving all kinds of sharp metal objects. The Vegetarian Festival takes place all across the country in cities such as Bangkok, however, the biggest festivities are known to take place in Phuket province.
The Surin Elephant Round-up is a two-day festival which takes place annually in the northeastern province of Surin in mid-November. Having first begun in 1960, this real crowd-pleaser event sees huge trained elephants take to the stage to perform impressive shows complete with spiritual processions, tug-o-wars, logging skills, and even fun football games. The Elephant Round-up is as entertaining as any animal show can get! Apart from games and fanciful acts, you can enjoy watching the Elephant Breakfast where elephants are spoiled with a banquet of fruits; as well as appreciating traditional dress, dancing and music performed by local school children and their teachers. Participating in the event are some hundreds of elephants but be prepared to encounter thousands of people attending this unique carnival-like festival.
Visually beautiful and simply enchanting, the Loy Krathong Festival held in the month of November is carried out in cities across the country and similarly to the Songkran Festival represents a time of cleansing the soul of sins and bad luck. Huge processions take place along canals and rivers throughout Thailand such as the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok whereby Kratongs; in other words boats made out of banana leaves; are decorated with candles, coins, incense and flowers which are then placed to float along the calm waters. This great illumination by thousands of candles creates a graceful scene like no other, not to mention the exceptionally beautiful garments traditionally worn by Thai women. Many will also call this event the "lover's festival" which is an appropriate name if you imagine just how romantic the entire scene is. Apart from Bangkok, some of the best festivities can be found near Ayutthaya or at the ruins of Sukhothai - Thailand's first capital where Loy Krathong is believed to have begun.
Not so much a celebration as a remembrance event, the River Kwai Bridge Week pays tribute to the history of the River Kwai Bridge built by prisoners of war during World War II. This week-long event is held in late November through to early December and is complete with historical as well as archaeological exhibitions; cultural performances; fantastic rides on vintage trains along the Bridge's tracks; a carnival; and an impressive light and sound presentation re-enacting the bridge's unforgettable past. For many this is an important event that allows them to remember loved ones lost during the constructing of the bridge or to even learn about the hardship once experienced by their ancestors.
If you appreciate culture and history or want to learn more about the city of Ayutthaya and its exquisite ruins, the Ayutthaya World Heritage Site Celebrations will inform you of all you need to know and more. Held in mid-December over a period of days, the fair pays respect to both the glory days and downfall of this former Thai capital. Making up the event are historical exhibitions, traditional and cultural processions and performances, glittering fireworks and magnificent light and sound presentations around the famous ruins.