In less than two weeks we will be celebrating the biggest Thai Festival called Songkran 2011. This takes place all over Thailand in mid-April. The date used to vary but it is now fixed and takes place on 13-15 April every year. Although these are the dates for the public holiday in Thailand, Sonkgran itself will be celebrated over a wider period in different places around Thailand. If you feel up to it, you can play water fights for up to 12 days at various locations. However, in one location, water fights don’t usually go on for more than three days. But, having said that, this year the public holiday is Wednesday to Friday and it is possible some kids will want to continue the water fights over the weekend as well.
You can celebrate Songkran anywhere in Thailand. You don’t have to visit one of the following major events to enjoy the experience of Songkran. I don’t usually travel far during Songkran as I prefer celebrating it locally. Tomorrow I will give you a preview of some of the activities that take place in my home province of Samut Prakan during Songkran each year.
BANGKOK AND CENTRAL THAILAND
9-17 April 2011: Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival. This year’s Bangkok Songkran Thai New Year celebrations features a combination of colourful festivities and activities being hosted by the various communities of Khao San Road, the districts of Banglumphu-Wisutkasat and Phra Artit Road under the theme, “Love Songkran in Your Home Town” [MORE].
13 April 2011: Ayutthaya Songkran Festival. Songkran celebrations will be held at various sites around the island city of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya; the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. Songkran festivities will feature ancient customs and traditions of Songkran that have been observed through the centuries [MORE].
12-14 April 2011: Suphanburi Songkran Festival. The main event is a Songkran procession of the golden Luang Phor Toh Buddha image and also a Miss Songkran Beauty Contest [MORE].
22-24 April 2011: Mon Songkran Festival at Phra Phradaeng. Phra Pradaeng in Samut Prakan Province is one of the few places in Thailand that celebrates the Songkran Festival in the Thai-Mon style, featuring a magnificent parade. Visitors can learn how to play saba, enjoy a Mon folk play, plus many other forms of entertainment, and see a procession of swan and centipede flags [MORE].
THE EASTERN SEABOARD
13-18 April 2011: Koh Si Chang Songkran Festival. Witness a rarely seen traditional courtship tradition on the island of Koh Kaam Yai, approximately 1 km from the island of Koh Si Chang. The men of the village invite eligible young ladies to join them for water-splashing in the sea. If consent is granted, the man carries the young lady down the beach to the sea and then carries her back to shore again, after which the couples take part in the traditional ram wong circle dance [MORE].
16-17 April 2011: Wan Lai Sand Pagoda Building Festival. With no shortage of sand to build sand-stupas, the stupa building contest on Bangsaen Beach is a predominant element of the Songkran festivities in Chon Buri. [MORE].
18-19 April 2011: Pattaya Na Kleua Songkran Festival. A procession of the Buddha image along the Pattaya beachfront road offering local residents and visitors an opportunity to participate in the ritual bathing of a revered Buddha image [MORE].
19-21 April 2011: Sri Maharaja Songkran Festival in Chonburi Province. The observance of the ‘kong khao’ religious ritual and other customs related to the celebration of the Thai New Year [MORE].
22-23 April 2011: Songkran on Koh Chang. The islanders celebrate Songkran a week later than the rest of the country with alms giving, parades and water splashing [MORE].
7-19 April 2011: Sukhothai Songkran Festival. At Wat Traphang Thong temple in front of the Sukhothai Historical Park, Sukhothai [MORE].
7-19 April 2011: Si Satchanalai Songkran Festival. Journey back in time as local residents of the historic town of Sukhothai turn back the clock and revisit their glorious past as they celebrate the Songkran Thai New Year the traditional Thai way. Most will be dressed in traditional Thai costumes [MORE].
12-15 April 2011: Chiang Mai Songkran Festival. One of the best places to experience Songkran is in Chiang Mai, where it is celebrated on a grand scale with a flavour uniquely and entirely its own, attracting visitors from far and wide [MORE].
12-15 April 2011: Nong Khai I-San Songkran Festival. With the neighbouring country of Lao PDR on the opposite bank of the Mekong River, Songkran celebrations in the northeastern province of Nong Khai is a combined Thai-Lao Songkran festival, with rituals, cultural performances, folk games and cuisine, reflecting a shared heritage [MORE].
8-15 April 2011: Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival. As part of the traditional Songkran Thai New Year merit-making ceremonies in Khon Kaen province, the locals perform bathing rituals to pay homage to revered Buddha images and shrines, present merit-making offerings to monks and pay respect to elders by making ritual offerings [MORE].
12-15 April 2011: Nakhon Phanom Lao Songkran Festival. Buddhist bathing rituals are performed in accordance with ancient customs and traditions. Scented lustral water is sprinkled over sacred sites such as the 2,000-year old Phra That Phanom stupa — the most sacred and ancient monument of the Northeast and the landmark of Nakhon Phanom, holy footprints of Lord Buddha, temples, Buddha images as well as monks [MORE].
9-15 April 2011: Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival. Miss Songkran pageant and Miss Songkran procession and the Midnight Songkran celebrations in Hat Yai [MORE].
10-13 April 2011: The Water Festival on the Beach in Phuket. Visitors to Phuket are invited to join local residents in Thai New Year merit-making activities and experience up close and personal the colourful local culture highlighting traditional Thai ways as well as contemporary pop culture. [MORE]
11-15 April 2011: Songkran Festival in Nakhon Si Thammarat. For hundreds of years, it has been the tradition to pour lustral water onto Phra Buddha Singh image during the fifth month of the Thai calendar. The present day Songkran Festival has evolved from this practice. A procession escorting the Phra Buddha Sihing Buddha image from the Provincial Hall to Tung Tha Lat where it is bathed with lustral waters [MORE].