Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

Songkran Festival 2024, Thailand

13 April - 15 April

Free

Songkran, or Thailand's water festival, is an occasion of great fun.

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Songkran, or Thailand’s water festival, is an occasion of great fun especially in the major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The Songkran Festival 2024 plans to be even bigger than usual with the government planning to expand the event from the traditional three days to the whole month. The plan is to make Thailand one of the top 10 festival destinations in the world.

Songkran Water Throwing Battles

The whole country grinds to a halt as people are sprayed with industrial water guns or whatever comes most easily to hand. Celebrated from 13 to 15 April, it’s best to turn up in swimming gear and wrap your fun, money and credit cards up in plastic so as to fully participate in the festivities.

The most famous Songkran festival activity is the throwing of water at one another. It’s for this reason that it is often also called the Water Festival. The water stands as a symbol for the cleansing of spirit and body. It is also supposed to rinse away the sins and bad luck from the past year.

Visiting Thailand during Songkran is quite an experience. People are lining the streets with entire buckets of water, water hoses or – if you’re lucky – the more civilised water pistols to make sure passers-by get a good drenching. In rebel-fighting style, open pickup trucks cruise the streets filled at the back with people armed with water guns and a couple of large water-filled barrels for ammunition. Nobody is spared, including tourists and the police.

What Exactly is the Songkran Festival?

People in traditional ceramony in Songkran festival for pay respect the elderly and holy thing - Songkran festival of northern Thai traditional holiday concept, Deposit Photos
People pay respects during Songkran festival, Deposit Photos

Songkran is the celebration of Buddhist New Year which, according to the solar calendar, takes place between 5 and 20 April. In Thailand Songkran has been fixed on 13 April and officially extends till 15 April. Unofficially it can sometimes last for a whole week, depending on the area or city in the kingdom – or perhaps for the whole month should the government gets its way. During this Water Festival, Thai people return to their home villages and towns to celebrate together with their families.

Originally Songkran was only celebrated in the north of the country but has now spread all over Thailand. The most famous or infamous water festival parties still take place in the north, particularly in Chiang Mai (see below). However, for Songkran 2024 Ratchadamnoen Avenue in Bangkok will be the centre of festivities, with people coming from across Thailand to join a parade to demonstrate their unique cultures.

Traditions of Songkran Thailand

The traditional meaning of Songkran is about spiritual cleansing and showing respect. Houses are being cleaned too, images of Buddha are dusted and the younger generation pay their respects to the elders. Every city in Thailand has its procession where Buddha statues are paraded through town on special floats. These Buddha statues are taken out of their temples for this special occasion and everyone is allowed to sprinkle them with water. Many cultural activities take place and, of course, lots of partying, dancing, music and drinking.

Din Sor Phong Powder at the Songkran Festival

It’s common to witness Thai people’s faces smeared with a white paste during the water festival. Called Din Sor Phong, the powder is a mineral made of marlstone and originates from a village in Lopburi Province that bears the same name. Mixed with scented water and made following a recipe of herbal medicine, it’s used to cool the skin, to minimise rashes and respiration, and is also believed to help with acne. Just don’t get it in your eyes – if that happens then rinse with clean water.

Origins of Songkran Festival

It’s believed that this water festival originated from the Holi Festival in Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Delhi, India, where it signifies the end of the harvest year. Instead of water, during Holi the Indian people splash different colour – or tika – pigments on one another, which stands symbol for chasing away society’s dark forces.

Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai

One of the he most famous Songkran festivities take place in Chiang Mai and during this period the city is swamped with both Thais and tourists. If you are not faint of heart then the best experience is on the streets around the moat that surrounds the historical centre. Most activities take place at the north and east sides of the old town.


To discover more about Thailand, read Travel Begins as 40’s ‘Essential Thailand Travel Guide for the Over 40s’.


Tha Pae Gate: Lots of concerts, dances and parties take place on the square at the historical Tha Pae Gate, east side of town.

Kad Suan Kaew: At the front side of this shopping mall on Kuay Kaew Road hordes of Thais, expats and tourists congregate around a big podium on which musicians play their tunes the whole day.

Riverside: The Ping River is often the starting point for many parades and ceremonies. Restaurants and bars alongside the river fill up with revellers and live music.

Wat Phra Singh: This is one of Chiang Mai’s most remarkable temples and a hub for religious activities during Songkran. Its important Buddha statue, the Phra Buddha Sihing, is paraded through town.

When Is Songkran 2024?

The Thailand Songkran festival is from 13 to 15 April.

Happy Songkran!

Thailand Water Festival
Chiang Mai is notorious for its exuberant Songkran Thailand celebrations. Image © Takeaway

Songkran Festival in Southeast Asia

Neighbouring Laos and Myanmar all have major Water Festival celebrations at the same time so wherever you are in the region come prepared. Khmer New Year in Cambodia is a more mellow affair.


Further Information about Songkran 2024 in Thailand

To learn more about the Songkran Water Festival Thailand, visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand website.


Details

Start:
13 April
End:
15 April
Cost:
Free

Venue

thailand
Thailand
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Johan Smits

Freelance writer, translator, web content developer, author of the novel Phnom Penh Express and Tommy, a short story. Johan has travelled extensively since leaving his native Antwerp. He has lived in Taiwan, West Africa, Central Asia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Thailand, where he now lives. Loves trying out local brews but tends to avoids noise. Chronically indecisive about where to lay down his hat.

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