Planning a visit to Phuket? If so, check your travel dates, because if you happen to be visiting during one of the following fairs or festivals, you are in for an incredible time! Here are a few fairs and festivals that are more than worth your while:
April 13: Turtle Release Fair The highlight of this fair is quite obvious, seeing as it is stated in the name. On April 13, one of the Songkran days in Thailand, locals and tourists alike gather together to release baby turtles back to sea. If you are interested in seeing it with your own eyes, the fair is held at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center Royal Thai Navy in Phuket.
April 13-15: Songkran Festival The long national holiday, Songkran, is the time when people come out to splash water on each other in celebration of the Thai New Year. April 13th, Maha Songkran Day, is considered to be the last day of the old year according to the calendar used in India and other Southeast Asian nations. Songkran is a festival that goes on for three consecutive days. April 14th is referred to as Klang or Nao Day, and the new year or Thaloengsok Day is on April 15th. People will come out to make merits at the temple and splash water on the streets. Ever want to let loose and engage in a giant water fight in public? This is the perfect chance to do so!
April 13: The Legend of the Songkran Goddess There are seven goddesses specifically associated with each day of the week before Maha Songkran Day. They are believed to be the daughters of the god Maha Songkran who got decapitated. It is said that if his head were to land on the ground, the whole globe would be set on fire, rain would never pour again, and the ocean would dry up. For that reason, the mentioned goddesses have the responsibility of carrying his head according to their day each year.
Songkran is a holiday that families usually spend together, celebrating the festivities. The younger family members will pay respect to the adults and elders, asking for blessings. This tradition is beautiful as it brings people of all generations under one roof to have a good time. Aside from that, it brings together the community and fosters friendships. Many communities hold events that people can join such as building sand stupas, cleaning the temples, giving alms, bathing Buddha images, and making merits. These are all great ways to serve your community alongside your friends and family members.
June and November: Chao Le Boat Floating Festival (Sea Gypsy) This festival is held in the middle of June and November every year. Villagers construct small boats from wood before the big day arrives, taking them out on the day of the ceremony. Before they release the boats into the sea, they clip their fingernails and cut a few strands of hair, placing the pieces into the boat, along with wooden dolls that they carved. After that, all of the villagers will perform a traditional dance, Ram Rong Ngeng, around the boats. The dance goes on for quite some time - usually from late night until dawn. Then, they release the boats into the sea. This tradition is believed to be able to push away bad luck and any evil spirits lurking about. Some villages hold the ceremony on different days. The Rawai and Sapam villages, for one, hold their celebrations on the 13th. The Sire village has it on the 14th while the Laem La village usually celebrates on the 15th. If you get the chance, make sure that you stop by to experience it!
September: Por Tor Festival Por Tor Festival is influenced by Chinese culture. The purpose of this festival is to make merit to the ghosts that do not have relatives. They are also known as ‘Hungry Ghosts.’ Without family members offering them food, this is the time that everyone will come out to provide food for these hungry ghosts at Por Tor Kong Shrine in Phuket Town. Participants will eat vegetarian food and wear white clothing while performing the ceremony. There are some bizarre things that you will witness - walking on fire, climbing bladed ladders, and setting off little fireworks while carrying images on the street. It’s definitely quite a sight to see.
September-October: Phuket Vegetarian Festival Held during the ninth lunar month, people celebrating this festival only eat vegetarian food throughout the entire duration. People who participate in the festival are believed to gain good luck throughout the year. The Vegetarian Festival lasts for 10 days, and participants believe that following a vegetarian or vegan diet throughout this period will cleanse their spirit, ensuring that they are in good standing for the rest of the year.
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