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1 January (Tue) New Year's Day National Holiday
6 May (Mon) Coronation Day Substitution
HOLIDAYS IN THAILAND
Don Chedi Monument Fair
Held at the Don Chedi memorial in Suphanburi Province, this event commemorates the victory of King Nuesuan of Ayuthaya over Burmese invaders in 1592. The highlight of the fair is dramatised elephant-back duelling.
New Year's Day
A rather recent public holiday in deference to the western calendar.
That Phanom Festival
An annual week-long homage to the North- East's most sacred Buddhist stupa (Wat Phra That Phanom) in Nakhon Phanom Province. Pilgrims from all over the country, as well as from Laos, attend.
Chinese New Year
Called trut jiin in Thai, Chinese populations all over Thailand celebrate their lunar new year (the date shifts from. year to year) with a week of house-cleaning, lion dances and fireworks. The most impressive festivities take place in the Chinese-dominated province capital of Nakhon Sawan.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Colourful floats and parades exhibit Chiang Mai's cultivated flora.
(Makkha Buchaa) Held on the full moon of the third lunar in the to commemorate the preaching of the Buddha to 1250 enlightened monks who came to hear him 'without prior summons'. A public holiday throughout the country, it culminates with a candle-lit walk around the nudn chapel at every wat.
Phra Nakhon Khiri Diamond Festival
This is a week-long celebration of Phetchaburi's history and architecture focused on Phra Nakhon Kbiri Historical Park (also known as Khao Wang), a hill topped by a former royal palace overlooking the city. It features a sound- and-light show on Khao Wang; the temples are festooned with lights and presentations of Thai classical dance-drama.
ASEAN Barred Ground Dove Fair
This is a large dove-singing contest held 1St week of March in Yala that attracts dove- lovers from all over Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
Bangkok International Jewellery Fair
Held in several large Bangkok hotels, this is Thailand's most important annual gem and jewellery trade show. It runs concurrently with the Department of Export Promotion's Gems & Jewellery Fair.
Phanom Rung Festival
A newly established festival to commemorate restoration work in the Phanom Rung Estorical Park, an impressive Angkor-style temple complex in Buffiain Province. It involves a daytime Procession up Phanom Rung Hill and spectacular sound-and-light shows at night. It takes place on the last week of the month - be prepared for very hot weather.
Phra Phutthabaat Festival
Annual Pilgrimage to Wat Phra Phutthabaat (Temple of the Holy Footprint) at Saraburi, 236km north-cast of Bangkok. It's quite an affair, with music, outdoor drama and many other festivities. if you're in the area, the shrine is worth visiting at any tinny during the year, even in the 'off season'.
The 6th Chakri Day
This is a public holiday commemorating the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, Rama 1. It's held on 6 April.
13th - 15th Songkhran Festival The New Year's celebration of the lunar year in Thailand. The Buddha images am 'THBed', monks and elders receive the respect of younger Thais by the sprinkling of water over their hands, and a lot of water is generously tossed about for fun. Songkhran generally gives everyone a chance to release their frustrations and literally cool off during the peak of the hot season. Hide out in your room or expect to be soaked; the latter is a lot more fun. Held 13 to 15 April.
Coronation Day Public holiday, 5 May. The king and queen preside at a ceremony at Wat Phra Kaew, commemorating their 1950 coronation.
Visakha Puja (Wisakha Buchaa) A public holiday that falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the sixth lunar month. This is considered the date of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and parinibbana, or pass- ing away. Activities are centred around the wat, with candle-lit processions, much chanting and sermonizing.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
To kick off the official rice-planting season, the king participates in this ancient Brahman ritual at Sanam Luang (the large field across from Wat Phra Kaew) in Bangkok. Thousands of Thais gather to watch, and traffic in this part of the city comes to a standstill.
Bun Prawet Festival
One of the wildest in Thailand, an animist- Buddhist celebration held in Loci's Dan Sai district (nowadays also in other places around Loei Province) in which revellers dress in garish 'spirit' costumes, wear painted masks and brandish carved wooden phalli. The festival commemorates a Buddhist legend in which a host of spirits (phii) appeared to greet the Buddha-to-be upon his return to his home town, during his penultimate birth.
In the North-East, villagers craft large sky- rockets of bamboo that they then fire into the sky to bring rain for rice fields. This festival is best celebrated in the town of Yasothon. but is also good in Ubon Ratchathani and Nong Khai. It's known in Thai as Bun Bang Fai.
(Asanhaa Buchaa) Conunemorates the first sermon preached by the Buddha.
Khao Phansaa is celebrated in the North-East by carving huge candies and parading them on floats in the streets. This festival is best celebrated in Ubon Ratchathani.
A public holiday and the beginning of Buddhist 'lent', this is the traditional time of year for young men to enter-the monkbood for the rainy season and for all monks to station themselves in a monastery for the three months. It's a good time to observe a Buddhist ordination.
Public holiday. In Bangkok, Th Ratchadamnoen Klang and the Grand Palace are festooned with coloured lights. Celebrated on 12 August.
Thailand International Swan-Boat Races
These take place on the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok near the Rama IX Bridge.
An annual week-long festival celebrating local culture in Narathiwat Province with boat races, dove-singing contests, handicraft displays, traditional Southern Thai music and dance. The king and queen almost always attend.
A public holiday in commemoration of King Chulalongkom (Rania V). Held on 23 October.
A month at the end of the Buddhist lent during which new monastic robes and requisites are offered to the Sangha. In Nan Province long- boat races are held on the Nan River.
On the proper full-moon night, small lotus- shaped baskets or boats made of banana leaves containing flowers, incense, candles and a coin are floated on Thai rivers, lakes and canals. This is a peculiarly Thai festival that probably originated in Sukhothai and is best celebrated in the North. In Chiang Mai, where the festival is called Yi Peng, residents also launch hot-air paper balloons into the sky. At the Sukhothai lfistorical Park there is an impressive sound-and-light show.
Surin Annual Elephant Roundup
Held in the third weekend in November, Thailand's biggest elephant show is pretty tourist these days. If you have ever had the desire to see a lot of elephants in one place, then here's your chance.
River Khwae Bridge Week
Sound-and-light shows every night at the Death Railway Bridge in Kanchanaburi. It in- cludes historical exhibitions and vintage train rides on the infamous railway.
10 December - public holiday.
This is a public holiday that is celebrated with some fervor in Bangkok. As with the queen's birthday, it features lots of lights and other decorations along Th Ratchadamnoen Klang. Some people erect temporary shrines to the king outside their homes or businesses. Celebrated on 5 December