Though there is no dearth of alluring things in Bangkok, yet the rejoicing spirit of its fairs and festivals ensures that you will never be bored or find yourself at a loss of vigor, while in the place. While some of these gala events are organized to showcase the colorful history of Thailand, with its riches of traditional ideas and religious dogmas, others are celebrated for pure pleasure. Whatever may be the real reason behind the celebrations, each festival holds up a unique spectacle of its own. Read about some of the major and prominent fairs and festivals that see celebration in this wonderful land of Bangkok.
Major Fairs & Festivals of Bangkok
Chinese New Year
As most people in Bangkok are of Chinese origin, this festival is entrenched in the culture and forms an important event of the city. Celebrated in January, it is marked by paying homage to the departed souls of forefathers. Elders give money to small children as tokens of love. Families gather together and celebrate by holding a feast. Various colorful parades and contests are held around the place, the most important one being the Chinese Food Festival in Chinatown.
Songkran festival marks the traditional Thai New Year and is especially popular for its bedlam of exciting water fights. In Bangkok, the excitement of Songkran is most prominent near the Grand Palace and Sanam Luang. The water spatter associated with the festival lasts for about three days, over the lunar full moon. Boat races are held and colorful dancers and music troupes parade the city grounds. Thai people enjoy family gatherings and visit temples during this time.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
It is an ancient Brahmanic ceremony that is being celebrated in Bangkok since the Sukothai period. The event is hosted near Sanam Luang in May, by the King who bestows farmers with his blessings for a productive harvest. He also initiates the season by ploughing the ground. After this ceremonial ploughing, the sacred bulls are offered seven different platters, containing rice, corn, beans, sesame seeds, alcohol, water and glass. The bulls’ choice of food is used to predict the agricultural produce for that particular year.
This festival commemorates the Goddess of Water and has been observed all over Thailand, since the Sukothai period. People congregate at the waterside during the full moon in November and offer their ‘krathong’ (a lotus-shaped vessel decorated with flowers and candles) and ‘loy’ (float) it in the water. In this way, they thank the Water Goddess for giving them water for everyday use. Various fun fairs, concerts, games and events are organized during this period.
The Golden Mount Fair
The Golden Mount is a part of the Wat Saket Temple, which forms the venue for the annual Golden Mount temple fair, celebrated in November every year. The Golden Mount of Wat Saket is covered with red cloth and the Buddhists in Bangkok visit the temple to offer their obeisance to Lord Buddha’s relics and rejoice in the festive spirit. The whole aura of the place resembles a carnival, with folk plays, local food stalls, bauble stalls and animal circuses.
Thai Beer Festival
Thai Beer Festival is celebrated in the cooler months of October or November, after the monsoon spells are over. The event is ideal for enjoying authentic Thai food and beer, as during this time, Thai breweries set up stalls at various locations to promote their brands. Various stage events and live performances are also held. The most popular venue of the festival is the one located in front of the World Trade Center, at the Rajprasong Intersection.
Bangkok International Film Festival
This festival is organized annually in February, by the Royal Thai Government and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, to promote alternative award-winning international and local films. The event is characterized by various workshops, symposiums, special tributes, the Bangkok Film Market (BFM) and other notable events. The festival mainly aims at drawing attention to the emerging filmmakers throughout Asia, in particular to those of the Southeast Asian region.