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Most Popular Events in Phuket

Phuket has a long tradition of festivals and many have now become world renowned with tourists planning their holidays around these events.

Here are a few of the many festivals that can be enjoyed by all with:

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is a colourful event held From Friday 16th till Sunday 25th October 2020, celebrating the Chinese community's belief that abstinence from meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will help them obtain good health and peace of mind. The festival is famous for its extreme celebrations.

The Vegetarian Festival is an internationally known event, and while it also happens modestly in Bangkok around the same dates, it is mostly a Phuket event.

Weeks before the Vegetarian Festival events start, yellow Chinese flags bloom on every possible roadside and intersections, especially near Chinese temples.

One of the most exciting aspects of the festival are the various, (and sometimes gruesome) ceremonies which are held to invoke the gods. Fire-walking, body piercing and other acts of self mortification undertaken by participants acting as mediums of the gods, have become more spectacular and daring as each year goes by. Men and women puncture their cheeks with various items including knives, skewers and other household items. It is believed that the Chinese gods will protect such persons from harm, and little blood or scarring results from such mutilation acts. This is definitely not recommended for the faint hearted to witness.

The Commitments:

  • Cleanliness of the body during the festival
  • Clean kitchen utensils not to be used by others who do not participate in the festival
  • Wear white during the festival
  • Behave correctly, both physically and mentally
  • Avoid eating meat
  • Avoid sex
  • Avoid alcohol
  • People in mourning should not participate
  • Pregnant women and menstruating women should not attend ceremonies

Each day of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, processions start from one of the leading shrines around Phuket island. Thousands of people will pay respect to ancestors.

Songkran Festival

The Songkran Festival, also known as the Traditional Thai New Year, is usually celebrated in mid- April. It is one of Thailand’s grandest and most important events. The Songkran Festival is a time when family and friends gather to pay gratitude to elders and visit temples for prayer and offering food to the Buddhist monks. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’.

The Songkran Festival celebration is rich with symbolic traditions. As a festival of unity, people who have moved away usually return home to their loved ones and elders. Paying reverence to ancestors is an important part of Songkran tradition. also a period when the Thai people cleanse and pour water mixed with Thai fragrance on Buddha images. The festival also showcases a bathing ritual where the people pour water on the senior Buddhist monks. This process is believed to bring good luck to them. After that, the chief monk will give a sermon and bless those who attend this bathing ritual.

Patong Carnival

Patong Carnival is an annual event at the beginning of November. This 3 day event marks the beginning of high season and offers a range of activities and street parades. The Beach Road is fringed with food and beverage stalls. This gives tourists and locals a chance to sample a variety of fine cuisine from the various regions of Thailand. There are also a many stalls selling local products which are unique to Thailand.

The main events of Patong Carnival take place in different zones around the town, with the most popular areas located along the famous Bangla Road, Soi Post Office and Soi Dr Wattana. Mustsees include live music, cultural performances, street art, and an exhibition of Patong's historical and cultural heritage. You can even see rare photos of old Patong before it became one of Phuket's liveliest tourist spots.

Patong Carnival usually kicks off with an afternoon parade along Sai Kor Road, though the heart of the town. The procession heads down to the southern end of the city, turns right to hit Beach Road, then comes back up to close on Bangla Road.

Loy Krathong Festival

Loy Krathong is the most picturesque and beautiful of all the Thai festivals. It is celebrated on the evening of the first full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, which is Monday, October 31st, 2020. This beautiful festival is a festival of lights.

Loy means to float and Krathong means leaf cup or bowl. The stunning floats are made of cellulose banana tree trunks and are decorated with flowers, banana leaves, candles, 3 incense sticks and coins. Once the candles and incense sticks are lit a wish should be made before letting the float drift away in the current of the sea, river or canal. It is considered that the flame is longevity, fulfillment of wishes and release from sins. It is also considered to be a romantic night for couples and it is believed that couples who make a wish together are thought to stay together forever.

There are different legends surrounding the origins of this festival. The most popular version is that it is an expression of gratitude to the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Kongka for providing the people with water for their livelihood. Some others believe that it originates from Buddhism and that the offering of the krathong is a tribute of respect to the footprint of Lord Buddha on the sandy beach of the Narmaha River in India, as well as to the Great Serpent and dwellers of the underwater realm. The final thought is that it is possibly derived from a Hindu festival that pays tribute to the God Vishnu, who meditates at the centre of the ocean. It is believed that the young Queen Nang Noppamas began the tradition in Sukhothai in the 13th Century. It is an exquisite festival and should not be missed.

In Phuket, Loy Krathong is celebrated on all beaches, at the Sapan Hin lake in Phuket Town, at the Karon Lake, Nai Harn Lake and basically everywhere there is water, including most hotels swimming pools. You can also enjoy it at most of the piers around the island, such as Rawai Pier.

On main beaches people also release flying lanterns, illuminating the sky with hundreds of moving lights. It’s surreal and beautiful. As always when there is an event, there is plenty of local food to enjoy in the street. Enjoy party and games at the local fun fairs set in every popular place for everyone to have some fun.

Remember to only buy Krathongs made from banana tree slices or made of bread dough. Fortunately, styrofoam is disappearing, but if you ever see these, do not buy them.