Chiang Mai Events & Festivals
Bo Sang Umbrella Fair & San Kamphaeng Handicrafts Festival
Located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Bo Sang is particularly famous for its hand-painted umbrellas made from mulberry paper and silk. The festival takes place every third weekend in January, with the village streets decorated with brightly painted umbrellas and lanterns. The event is a celebration of local Lanna culture and craftsmanship, and features handicraft exhibitions, cultural performances, contests, an umbrella procession, as well as a Miss Bo Sang pageant.
Tawai Village Wood Carving Fair
This fair features wood carving demonstrations, contests and sales of local handicrafts. It includes local folk performances and a procession that highlights a range of popular northern Thai wood crafts. Hosted by the Tawai village, Hang Dong district.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
One of the highlights of the city’s festival calendar, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival takes place in February, which is the end of the cool season, when the region’s flowers are in full bloom. The main event of the festival is the flower parade, which features beautifully-decorated flower floats, each carrying a hopeful candidate for the Flower Festival Beauty Pageant. The floats make their way through the city to Nong Buad Hat Park where the pageant is held alongside flower exhibitions, entertainment and a general carnival atmosphere.
Makha Bucha Day
Makha Bucha commemorates an event which took place on the full moon of the third lunar month when 1,250 disciples miraculously gathered to hear the Lord Buddha give a sermon without prior arrangement. Worshipers circumambulate temples while carrying flowers, lighted candles and joss sticks under the full moon.
Chiang Mai Songkran and Lannathai Festival – Tha Pae Gate and citywide, Chiang Mai
The traditional Thai New Year, Songkran is a time for visiting the temple and making merit, being together as a family, and water fights! The main dates are the 13th, 14th and 15th of April, but the revelries in Chiang Mai continue for at least a week, making it one of the best places in Thailand to celebrate Songkran, especially with the areas around the city’s moat a frenzy of fun and water splashing. There are parades, beauty pageants and entertainments put on throughout the city. If you venture outside, be prepared to get wet and have lots of fun.
Chiang Mai Great Arts and Culture Festival
The Chiang Mai Great Arts and Culture Festival is held from April 2 – 6 at Tha Dton Payom Market on Suthep Road. The aim of the festival is to promote the image of Chiang Mai as an important center of art and culture, and to stimulate the preservation of local arts and the cultural heritage for future generations.
Usually falling in May, Visakha Bucha takes place on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. This is one of the most important Buddhist holidays, commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha, which all miraculously occurred on the same day and month. In Chiang Mai, worshipers make a night time procession up to Wat Phrathart Doi Suthep, a monastery overlooking the city. The procession departs Chiang Mai at sunset and reaches the monastery a few hours before sunrise, covering a distance of about 9km winding up through the forested hillside. At daybreak, the worshippers gather to make merit and pray to the holy relics and statues.
Held at the Wat Chedi Luang temple, which houses the city pillar or “Lak Muang”, the festival is held over a week and is used to ask the city’s gudardian deity to ensure the rainy season arrives on time.
Commemorates the first time Buddha, his teachings and his disciples gathered together. According to Buddhism, all three are needed for wholeness. On this day, Buddhists make merit at temples and sermons are preached.
H.M. The Queen’s Birthday Celebrations
Salakpatt (Sept – Oct)
This is a festival which is unique to northern Thailand with many local variations, however, it is normally held during September or October. In the main, it involves making religious merit by taking offerings of basic necessities, such as food and clothing, to the temple without designating which monk is to receive them.
The end of the three month period when monks are not permitted to travel. An important merit making ceremony is held at Chiang Mai University, where monks from several different temples receive contributions of rice and dry food.
Loy Krathong or Yi Peng
An important and enchanting festival throughout Thailand, it is a way of asking for blessings from the goddess of the river and to ask forgiveness for polluting the river. Small krathongs made from banana tree stems and leaves are adorned with incense sticks, candles and flowers are floated on rivers, lakes and ponds as an offering. A few strands of hair and nail clippings are usually placed in the krathong. The belief is that by doing this, your troubles will also be carried away.
In Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong is also called “Yi Peng”. In addition to floating krathongs, people in Chiang Mai also launch cylindrical paper lanterns into the sky, also as a way of carrying your troubles away. The many lanterns drifting up into pinpoints in the sky creates quite a magical scene. The festival also features firework displays, beauty pageants and folk dancing shows.
H.M. The King’s Birthday Celebrations
Chiang Mai Food Festival
Held around Tha Pae Gate, this annual festival provides demonstrations on fruit carving and traditional Thai desserts.
Chiang Mai Winter Fair
This week-long annual fair is held at the Chiang Mai Sala Klang or city hall from the end of December to early January, and features a variety of products for sale, handicrafts, cultural shows, games and plenty of northern Thai delicacies.