The city of Chiang Mai has a number of colorful festivals and events held all year round. The old festivals are based on the lunar calendar or are associated with religious beliefs while the newer ones exist because of local traditions or commercial interests such as handicraft exhibitions or the rice growing cycle.
Here are some of the famous Chiang Mai festivals:
Songkran – is celebrated in the middle of April when the sun moves out of Pisces. It marks the traditional Thai New Year and is considered as the most important festival in the city. The main events usually take place over three days or even more. The festivity is opened by lighting firecrackers during the dawn followed by a parade of the Buddha images in the afternoon. People usually toss scented water at the images as they pass along the streets. During the second day, activities are stopped to enable the new year to separate from the old. The festivities continue on the third day which is the new year. Ceremonies are held and people place flags and sticks of support in the sand to bring good fortune in the new year. After that, the young people pay respect to their elder through a ceremony called tam hua.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival – is held during every first weekend of February. The highlight of the festival is the parade which is held on a Saturday morning. During the parade, the floats are decorated with flowers according to the chosen theme and they compete for the best float prize to be given the next day. Many varieties of flowers are paraded during this festival like petunias, poinsettias, salvias, orchids, and many more.
Loi Kratong Festival – this Chiang Mai festival is held during the twelfth lunar moon which usually falls in November. It is considered as the most colorful festival of the year as people release small floats or kratong into the water to get rid of bad luck and at the same give thanks to the water and heavenly elements like Mae Khong Kha, the goddess of the river. Kratongs are usually made of disks cut from the banana tree and banana leaves. People place offerings inside like incense, flowers, candles, and even money. They make the kratongs float on the rivers and lakes. They also release thousands of hot air balloons at the same time which they call Khom Loy and they also light firecrackers everywhere.