Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand Festivals

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 really local. 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.

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Songkran Festival

3 kings monument Songkran Festival

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 waterbattles 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.

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Loy Krathong Festival

Picture of the Loy Krathong parade Chiang Mai Loy Krathong Classic Tour

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 wellknown 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.

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Flower Festival

Float at Flower Festival Parade Chiang Mai

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 Buak Had Park.

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Lamphun Lamyai Festival

Parade enters the town Lamphun Lamyai Festival 2017

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.

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The Akha Swing Festival

The Akha Swing Festival is one of the most important  annual events for the Akha people. Chiang Rai Province has the highest density of people of the Akha hill tribe in Thailand. If you want to witness this event you will have to travel to Chiang Rai. It normally takes place in the rainy season at the end of August or the beginning of September. The festival doesn’t have a fixed date. It’s celebrated at different dates in different villages.

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Poy Sang Long Festival

Poy Sang Long Ceremonie 2018

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.

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Salak Yom Festival

Karen girls Salak Yom 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.

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