What are some popular Thai festivals?

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Thailand loves a festival, and it’s not surprising when you consider having fun and socializing is as central to Thai culture as eating spicy food. You’ll find festivals taking place all over Thailand, frequently held in temple grounds, and they are always a pleasant experience, but hardly worth flying halfway around the world to see.

Even so, there are also a handful of festivals that are a cut above. We’ve created this list to show you Thailand’s craziest, coolest, and most bizarre festivals and gatherings found all over the country and graded for your pleasure. If your idea of cultural sightseeing is dancing the night away to a village folk band, drinking shots of liquor with the locals, and marveling at things you’ll never truly understand, then this list is for you!

Here are some of the popular Thai festivals:

1. Songkran

Songkran, the Thai New Year, is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Thailand. It takes place from April 13 to 15 each year and is marked by water fights and splashing water on one another to cleanse and bring good luck. It’s a fun and refreshing way to welcome the new year.

2. Loy Krathong

Held on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month (usually in November), Loy Krathong is the festival of lights. People release intricately decorated floating baskets (krathongs) onto rivers, lakes, and canals, symbolizing the letting go of negative energy and making wishes for the coming year.

3. Yi Peng Lantern Festival

Yi Peng is a popular festival that coincides with Loy Krathong in northern Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai. During this festival, thousands of sky lanterns (khom loi) are released into the night sky, creating a breathtaking display of floating lights.

4. Vegetarian Festival

Celebrated by Thai-Chinese communities, particularly in Phuket, the Vegetarian Festival is a time when participants observe a strict vegetarian or vegan diet to cleanse their bodies and minds. The festival features colorful processions, street performances, and devotees performing extreme acts of self-mortification.

5. Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)

Phi Ta Khon is a unique and lively festival held in Dan Sai, Loei Province. Participants wear ghost-like masks and colorful costumes, parading through the streets, dancing, and engaging in traditional rituals. The festival combines spiritual beliefs and local folklore.

6. Buffalo Racing Festival

Held annually in Chonburi province, the Buffalo Racing Festival is a thrilling event where buffalos, ridden by jockeys, compete in races. The festival also features traditional Thai competitions, music, and cultural performances.

7. Rocket Festival (Bun Bang Fai)

Celebrated in the northeastern region of Thailand (Isan), the Rocket Festival is a fertility ritual that involves the launching of large homemade rockets into the sky to encourage rain for the upcoming planting season. The festival also includes parades, traditional music, and dancing.

8. Phi Ta Khon Festival

This festival is celebrated in Dan Sai, Loei Province, and features participants wearing ghost-like masks and colorful costumes. The festival combines spiritual beliefs and local folklore.

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