Chiang Mai and North Thailand Festivals

Fantastic events in Chiang Mai and North Thailand

There are many festivals in North Thailand. Some are nationwide such as Loy Krathong and Songkran, others such as the Lamyai Festival in Lamphun are North Thailand Festivals. Some of them have fixed dates, others have dates that vary each year. Songkran is the Buddhist New Year that is celebrated on April 13 every year.

Two lesser known festivals are the Lamyai (Longan) Festival and the spectacular Salak Yom Ceremony in Lamphun. The dates of both these events are usually being announced a couple of months before they take place. Both feature beautiful parades on the first day. The sight of the towering, colorful Salak Yom donation trees at Wat Hariphunchai is a sight to behold. Salak Yom usually takes place in September.The Lamyai Festival coincides with the harvest and usually takes place in the beginning of August. 

The Poy Sang Long Ceremony takes place at the end of March, beginning of April. It is a novice ordination ceremony from the Shan people. Young boys are being dressed up as princes before they enter the monastery. There are numerous of these ceremonies across North Thailand. We will do our best to update you on the time and place of these wonderful events.

Apart from these major events there are numerous smaller, local festivals such a the New Year celebration of various tribal groups and tribal festivals such as the annual Hilltribe festival at Hua Mae Kham, northwest of Chiang Rai.

Dressed up boys sitting on a stage
Novices at the Poy Sang Long festival

Songkran, the Buddhist New Year

Songkran is in our opinion of the most misunderstood festivals. Much attention is usually paid to the rather boisterous and rowdy character of the festivities. Scenes of water battles and drunken behavior dominate the headlines but there is so much more to Songkran. There are wonderful parades and cultural performances. Many temples have beautiful sandcastles.

Young girl in a bicycle taxi
A young girls in a samlor during the Songkran parade of 2018

The Festival of Light: Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. Every year there is quite a lot of debate about the right date of this festival. It is probably the most popular and well known festival of Thailand and it attracts many tourists. The sight of sky lanterns and floating krathong with candles and flowers mesmerizes everyone. It really is a stunning festival.

Skylanterns release
Doi Thi Loy Krathong

Chiang Mai, City of Flowers!

Apart from the wellknown festivals there is also the Chiang Mai Flower Festival which takes place before and during the first weekend of February. It features a spectacular parade and a flower exhibition at Nong Buak Had Park.

Colorful float with flowers

The Lamyai Festival of Lamphun

The Lamphun Lamyai Festival is an annual event that takes place in the town Lamphun, capital of the province of the same name. This festival is also known as the Longan Fair or festival Lamyai is the Thai name for longan. Lamphun is the center of a large area of lamyai orchards. Thailand is one the main longan producing countries in Southeast Asia.

Decorated vehicle with women
Float during Lamyai Festival

The stunning donation tree festival

“Salak Yom” is an ancient merit making ceremony originally for women of the Tai Yong minority. The Tai Yong originally come from Myanmar and migrated to Lamphun.The Tai Yong speak their own dialect and have stuck to their traditions. The Salak Yom festival is one of these traditions. This ceremony takes place each year in Wat Prathat Haripunchai, in Lamphun, and, on different dates at certain temples in the vicinity of Lamphun. This is one the most interesting, specific North Thailand festivals.

Umbrella and colourful pillars
Donation trees during Salak Yom at Wat Hariphunchai in 2020

The Poy Sang Long Ceremony

Poy Sang Long takes place each year between March 20 and mid-April in many temples in North Thailand. In Chiang Mai there are two temples where this ceremony takes place. The festival is essentially Shan or Tai Yai and means “ordaining the beloved sons”. Young boys from 7 to 14 years old go to the temple to be ordained as novices. They will learn the tenets of Buddhist teaching and the self-discipline required of a monk. Poy Sang Long is not nationwide but one of the specific North Thailand festivals.

 

Dressed up boy with glasses
Poy Sang Long Ceremony Wat Ku Tao