In this two-part series, Kristie Kellahan reports on the top six festivals of Thailand.
Songkran: Are you ready to get wet? When the April temperatures in Thailand soar, one thought is on the minds of Thai people: Songkran! Marking the start of the new year on the traditional Thai calendar, Songkran is a wet and wild celebration as the bad luck and misdeeds of the past year are washed away, leaving participants clean, fresh and ready to start the new year on the right foot. This fun and playful nationwide festival is held for several days each year during the hottest month, April. In times past, Thais would pour a small bowl of water on members of their family to symbolise the washing away of misfortunes. The small bowl turned to a big bucket, the splashing took the streets and today you have thousands of revellers being cooled down by giant fire truck hoses! Many businesses and government offices close down during this time, and Bangkok empties out as residents travel to their home towns for family reunions. Expect lots of fun and laughter, leave your best clothes in the hotel, and join in with a water gun of your own.
Where: Nationwide; major celebrations in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other big cities.
|Songkran in Chiang Mai|
|A sedate version of getting wet...|
Hua Hin Jazz Festival: Do you love the sounds of saxophones? Pine for piano riffs? Jump for joy when you hear John Coltrane? If you answered yes, then make haste to the annual Hua Hin Jazz Festival, a celebration of all that is good in jazz music. Featuring local Thai musicians, as well as acclaimed artists from Japan and Indonesia, the music festival is a rare opportunity to enjoy a variety of eclectic Asian jazz performances in one venue. The two-day festival (held on the first weekend in June in 2013, with dates for next year yet to be announced) attracts crowds of up to 15,000, drawn to the music and the idyllic location, on the sands of Hua Hin beach. Expect fine food and wine for sale, great melodies and a crowd of cultured music-lovers.
Where: Hua Hin
|Jazz action at night ...|
|..and during the day at Hua Hin.|
World Film Festival of Bangkok: Movie premieres, appearances by cinema masters, a showcase for independent filmmakers and days of quality screen time... the World Film Festival of Bangkok has earned its place on the international film world calendar. Each year (dates to be announced), more than 80 international films are screened; they are produced in all corners of the globe and cover genres of feature-length, short-film, documentary and animation productions. Competition for the honour of being singled out as Best Feature is intense. Expect to see film luminaries walk the red carpet in Bangkok: Jean Cocteau, Roman Polanski and Apichatpong Weerasethakul have been honoured in previous years. Aspiring filmmakers will want to sign up for workshops on how to secure funding for their film project. Advice from professionals working in the industry is priceless. All in all, a five-star, red-carpet extravaganza.