Monday, November 11, 2013

Festival Fever

Thais love to party and they will celebrate just about anything! Plan your trip to coincide with a popular festival for the opportunity to soak up even more fun in the Land of Smiles. 

In this two-part series, guest contributor Kristie Kellahan reports on the top six festivals of Thailand.

Loy Krathong: 
One of the two most recognised festivals in Thailand, Loy Krathong is also one of the most beautiful. Celebrated each year on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month – usually in November – it is a photographer’s dream and an occasion relished by local Thai people.
“Loy” means to float, and “krathong” refers to a decorative floating arrangement of flowers and candles, often set in a basket of banana leaves or bread. On the night of the full moon, Thais launch these krathongs on a river or canal, making a wish and thanking the river spirits as they do so. The sight of hundreds of flickering candles in the inky night being carried away downstream is breathtaking. Folklore says that lovers who send off krathongs together will stay together; everyone who participates is promised good luck for the year ahead. 
In the northern provinces, Lanna-style sky lanterns made of paper are also released into the night sky, creating a stunning effect as thousands of floating lights are carried away with the breeze.

Where: Throughout Thailand; Loy Krathong is especially gorgeous in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

Loy Krathong - Nov 17 2013

Chiang Mai Flower Festival
: Known as the Rose of the North, Chiang Mai should be on the must-visit list for admirers of beautiful flowers and gardens. Grand Botanical Gardens, picturesque orchid gardens, a wonderful flower market and plenty of green spaces, make this northern gem a visual feast. 
There’s no better time to visit than the first weekend in February, when the Chiang Mai Flower Festival blooms across town. Expect to see colourful displays of chrysanthemums, orchids and roses in public gardens, as well as market stalls selling everything you ever needed to make your garden grow.
 The Flower Festival Parade is an amazing spectacle, proceeding through town with brightly decorated floats, Thai men and women dressed in traditional costume and a roving demonstration of Thai dancing. Fresh roses are handed out to the spectators and photo opportunities are abundant. 
By late Saturday afternoon of the festival weekend, the serious business of crowning Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival Queen will be well underway. 

Where: Chiang Mai

Monkey Buffet Festival: 
No doubt about it, the Monkey Buffet Festival is a contender for most unique event on the Thai calendar. Held annually in November in the historic town of Lopburi, the festival culminates in a feeding frenzy for the town’s 3,000 monkey residents. Kindly providing for animals is considered a merit-making activity in Thai culture, and the monkeys reap the benefits of this generous belief. 
Long buffet tables, groaning under the weight of 4,000 kilograms of tropical fruits, are laid out for the furry friends to devour. And devour they do! The cheeky long-tailed macaques gobble sticky rice, mango, bananas, durian, pineapple and more, as they lick furiously at blocks of ice encasing other gourmet delicacies. 
Polite proceedings soon disintegrate into madness and mayhem, as the cheeky monkeys stuff themselves silly, throw food, dance on the tables and taunt the tourists who have come to photograph the spectacle. Soak it all in, but do keep an eye on your belongings: these monkeys are practised pickpockets.

Where: Lopburi province, north of Bangkok

Monkey Buffet - Nov 25 2013

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