Every year, Thailand hosts numerous festivals and events. Some of these are unique to certain towns or provinces whilst others are celebrated nationwide. This is by no means a complete list because there are so many obscure local festivals, fairs and events to be found in Thailand.
Here is a list of Thailand Public Holidays & Festivals of calendar year 2012. There are national holidays, as well as some of the most important festivals and celebrations in Thailand. Many of Thailand holidays are based on Thai lunar calendar, thus it will have different dates from previous years.
ROYAL PLOUGHING CEREMONY
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is held every year and its history dates back to the Sukhothai Period. The Annual Ploughing ceremony is held every year in May but there is no fixed date as such and keeps changing every year. The festival is held at Sanam Luuang near the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The ceremony has been very popular since time immemorial and is hailed as a very auspicious ceremony usually celebrating the planting season. The Royal Ploughing ceremony is a Brahmin festival and was practiced even before the birth of Lord Buddha.
VISAKHA BUCHA/VESAK DAY
The holiest Buddhist holiday celebrates the birth, enlightenment and entry into nirvana of the Buddha. Vesak is an annual public holiday observed traditionally by practicing Buddhists in South Asian and South East Asian countries like Nepal, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Pakistan and India. Sometimes informally called “Buddha’s birthday,” it actually encompasses the birth, enlightenment Nirvana, and passing (Parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha.
Makha Bucha celebrates the Buddha’s first sermon in to his disciples. The Buddhist holiday of Sangha Day is called Makha Bucha Day in Thailand. It is observed in Thailand on the full moon of the third lunar month, which is usually the end of February or early March. In most other parts of Asia, Buddhist observe Sangha Day about a month later. Sangha Day commemorates a day when 1,250 monks, all from different places and on their on initiative, spontaneously came to pay homage to the historical Buddha.
Chakri Day commemorates the founding of the current dynasty by its first king, Rama I. Chakri is a public holiday in Thailand. Thai kings are very respected by the people, and past kings are no exception. In commemorating Chakri Memorial Day, Thai national flag will be displayed prominently by Thai people. The king will lead a religious ceremony honoring the previous kings, particularly King Rama I the founder of the current monarchy.
Songkran Festival or known as Thailand Water Festival, is the most important festival for Thai people. Celebrated as the traditional Thai New Year, Thai people sprinkle water on the elders in show of respect and pay respect to Buddha images. Songkran Festival was previously calculated based on Thai lunar calendar, but in recent years is now fixed based on Western calendar. Songkran Festival falls on 13-15 April yearly, though the celebration usually starts before and ends days after the official holiday.