Brahmanic, Buddhist, and Lanna heritages endowed Chiang Mai with a plentiful array of cultural expressions. Over time (and thanks to a community with artistic aptitude), traditions evolved into festivals and celebrations that won the hearts of Thais and the interest of the world.

Planning a visit to Chiang Mai? Festivals spread out year round, so there might be one coinciding with your visit. Check the program below:

 

January. Bo Sang Umbrella & Handicrafts Festival

When:

Every year on the third weekend of January, for 3 days.

Where:

Bo Sang, a village 9 km southeast of Chiang Mai.

How to get Bo Sang:

By songthaew or by bus (White Bus). You can catch either near the river by Warorot Market. The trip takes 25 minutes and should cost roughly 20 THB.

Bo Sang is home to skilled craftspeople in the making of rice paper fans, lanterns, and umbrellas. During the festival, the village streets and alleys are illuminated by lanterns, while hundreds of paper parasols decorate the outside of houses and shops.

 

Umbrella Festival, Chiang Mai

 

It all gets particularly magical after the sun sets, so take the time to go for a night stroll and visit the umbrella making shops.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-24

What to expect:

• Old school carnival games,
• Umbrella making workshops,
• Umbrella painting competition (locals compete to win the year’s most beautiful umbrella),
• Concerts,
• Lanna style dancing performances,
• Parades (2:00 PM)
• Northern Thai food festival,
• A local beauty pageant.

 

Chiang Mai 2016-26

 

February. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival

When:

On the first weekend of February (1, 2, and 3 of February 2019)

Where:

The key spot is Nong Buak Haad public park.
The Flower Parade goes through Nawarat bridge to Thapae road, Kotchasarn Road, Changlor Road and Arak Road.

Running for over 40 years, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a 3-day celebration that showcases Chiang Mai’s unique flowers and plants (all in full bloom at the beginning of February).

 

IMG_1040

 

What to expect:

• Rare flowers exhibitions,
• Dancers and entertainers,
• Musical performances,
• Plenty of Thai food and drinks,
• Miss Flower contest,
• The Flower Parade.

 

Chiang Mai flower parade
Photo by Devon Sampson

 

On Saturday morning (starting at 8 A.M), the long-awaited Flower Parade goes out to the streets. Floats are decorated with millions of natural flowers and accompanied by dancers in traditional costumes.

 

Flower Festival Parade 2015-13

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

The floats are considered the highlight of the event. For many months in advance, thousands of locals participate in the building of the floats, making them items of great pride to the community.

As many Thais travel to Chiang Mai for the festivities, streets are not the only place that gets packed with people — so do accommodations. Make your reservations in advance!

Traditional Dance 3

 

February. Jai Thep Art and Music Festival

Where:

Lanna Rock Garden in Hang Dong, south of Chiang Mai.

When:

February 2, 3, and 4.

Ticket price:

850THB (1-day ticket)
1.500THB (2-day ticket)
1.900THB (3-day ticket)
You can camp there for free if you take your own tent.

Jai Thep is a family-friendly festival created by a collective of artists, and defined as a “3-day celebration of art, music, and magic”.

 

Along the enclosure of the event are 4 stages occupied by bands and DJs from Thailand and the international scene.

Music genres:

• House
• Drum’n’bass
• Psytrance.
• Electro-chill

You’ll find hundreds of art installations and a great number of creative workshops that’ll suit adults and children.

For more information on Jai Thep go to www.jaithepfestival.com

 

April. Songkran the Water Festival

When:

April 13th, 14th and 15th 2018.

Where:

All over the city center, but the key celebration spots are near the Tha Pae Gate.

Marking the new solar year, the high energy ceremonies last for 3 days, and they’re the perfect time to let the child in you come out and play. The most popular custom of Songkran is the water fights all over town.

 

Songkran_2014-35

Songkran_added-3

Have in mind that what to us Westerners seems like a good laugh, represents to Thai people the purification of the body and soul. Songkran is a beloved symbolic tradition, therefore some etiquette is required:

• Don’t take your shirt off, no matter how soaked or how hot it is that day
• No bikinis and no short-shorts.  
• Don’t through water to monks, babies, and the elderly.

Tip:

Being the most anticipated public holiday for Thais, expats, and backpackers, book your accommodation early.





November. Yee Peng and Loi Krathong Festivals

When:

during the full moon of November, so the date is subject to change. If you write “Loy Krathong” on to Google, you’ll get the correct date for that year.

For 2018 the dates are November 21, 22 and 23.

Where:

Tha Pae gate, particularly between the Nawarat and Iron Bridges.

Loi Krathong or Festival of lights is celebrated for 3 days, once a year. Most ceremonies take place in the evening on various venues throughout Chiang Mai.

What to expect:

• Lantern procession,
• A beauty pageant,
• Parades,
• Boat races on the Mae Ping river,
• Krathong making competitions,
• Lantern release
• Krathong launch

The day before Loi Krathong takes place the Yee Peng ceremony. People decorate their houses, temples, and streets with paper lanterns of many shapes and colors.

 

Yi Peng Lanterns

At night the paper lanterns are lit and tossed into the air, carrying a wish for good fortune in the new year.

 

Untitled

 

Simultaneously, on the Mae Ping river are released hundreds of krathong (baskets made of banana leaves, adorned with incense and candles), to honor the Water Spirit.

 

Loi_Krathong


The krathong symbolizes letting go of all sins and misfortunes of the previous year.

 

Extra

For on and off festivals and upcoming events, check the website City Now!- Chiang Mai. 

Cover photo by Rodney Ee

Nuno and Mario

Hi there! We’re Nuno and Mário and we share helpful tips to make travel planning easy for you.

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