With the start of the vegetarian festival here in Thailand, we wanted to put together a guide for the best festivals in Thailand as well as some others from around the globe.
Festivals are a great way to experience local culture (no eating toasties and drinking Leo doesn’t count), so check out our guide below
Phuket Vegetarian Festival (Nine Emperor Gods Festival)
As it’s currently happening we’ll start off with the Phuket Vegetarian Festival (also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival). This is a Chinese based festival that lasts for 9 days and celebrates healthy eating and the cleansing of the body through eating vegetarian food.
The other side of the festival is a little more gruesome. If you want to see people sticking knives through their cheeks or walking over hot coal, then you are in for a treat! All of this is done in the name of invoking the gods.
Vegetarian celebrations happen all across Thailand so if you can’t make it to Phuket, there is likely to be some form of the festival in all provinces.
📍 Phuket (for the main festival) and all over provinces
📅 Usually held between 16th October and 25th October
Songkran (Thai New Year)
If you’ve not heard of Songkran you are missing out! Songkran is everyone’s favourite Thai festival for one simple reason, WATER FIGHT! Held across Thailand it can last up to 4 days in some provinces, so if a 4 water fight sounds like something you’d enjoy, this is definitely the one for you! Patong in Phuket famously holds theirs on Bangla Road which is a long strip of bars and clubs which have music playing all day, add to that water guns and partying it’s a great day out!
All over the country locals and tourists line the streets with buckets of water and water guns to soak everyone. This is all to celebrate the start of the Thai New Year, which is thought of as a time of cleansing and renewal. The water is a sign of a fresh start and combined with talcum powder, it is a mark of good luck and prosperity.
Unfortunately due to COVID-19 the 2020 Songkran event was postponed so make sure you check all the local news and posts as to whether or not it will be held in 2021.
📍 All over Thailand
📅 Usually 13th – 15th April (some provinces will have longer dates)
Loy Krathong (The Festival of Light)
Loy Krathong sees the local communities congregate after dark at the waterfront to release baskets filled with burning candles (known as Krathongs). This symbolises the letting go of bad luck and negative thoughts and the candles pay respect to Buddha.
This has become one of the most popular festivals in Thailand due to the amazing sights of the water blessings, but also the 3 days of celebrations that also take place. These celebrations consist of parades, beauty contests and lots of fireworks.
This is definitely a great festival to put on your bucket list!
📍 All over Thailand – Head to Bangkok and Chiang Mai for the bigger events
📅 The dates vary each year, however, in 2020 it will be held on 30 October – 1 November
That covers some of the best Thai festivals, now to festivals from different parts of the world.
Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead)
You most probably will have seen some of the famous skull designs that originated from this festival, at Halloween parties around the world. Día de Muertos is a Mexican festival which involves family and friends gathering to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died and helps to support their spiritual journey.
Traditions include building private altars honouring relatives, eating their favourite foods and drinks and also visiting their graves with gifts.
📅 1st – 2nd November (All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day)
Holi (The Festival of Colours)
Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil through and it also marks the beginning of spring after a long winter. The evening before the festival, large pyres are lit across India to signify the burning of evil spirits.
The most famous part of the festival, and what you are most likely to know it for, is the throwing of coloured powder into the air and also the splashing of it on others. Each of the colours has a meaning, for example, the Red symbolises love whilst the Green represents new beginnings.
This certainly is one for the bucket list, and a nice starting point before heading to South East Asia, or, a nice way to end a trip to South East Asia on your way back home. If you can’t make it there are plenty of Holi-style celebrations that take part all over the world, including places such as London and New York.
📅 Mar 28, 2021 – Mar 29, 2021
What better way to end this list than on one of the biggest parties in the world! Carnival attracts 5 million people per year and with that kind of attendance, you know you’re in for a good time.
Carnival is technically a religious festival, it takes place 5 days before the start of the Catholic lent period which lasts 40 days. So basically, it’s a 5-day party before everyone has to give up things they love for 40 days.
With lots of bright colours, dancing, street parties and festivities, it’s an eye-catching festival that would certainly live long in the memory.
📍 Rio De Janerio
📅 5 Days Prior to Lent ( Feb 11– Feb 16 for the 2021 festival)
Let Us Know…
So that wraps up our little segment on festivals around the world. With air travel for normal tourism up in the air at the moment, it’s most likely that you’ll see these festivals on a screen rather than in person. This doesn’t mean that you can’t add them to your travel bucket lists for when things do get back to normal!
If you have any suggestions for festivals that you’ve been to that we’ve not included, please let us know in the comments!