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Chiang Mai Festival and Events

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Traditions

Chinese New Year culture is filled with holidays and celebrations, the Lunar New Year being the biggest. Not only is it the largest mass movement of people in the world, it is also one of the globe’s most colorful and glamorous celebrations.

Thailand is known as being home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world. It is also the oldest, most prominent overseas Chinese community, therefore Chinese New Year is very important in the country. During Chinese new year many of the rituals, like dragon dances and even the special food eaten are imbued with magical meaning. This month, we invites you to take a look at some of the most widely observed customs that frame 5,000 years of Chinese history, mythology, cuisine, spirituality, business and imperial reigns. Of course, the number of ancestral Chinese New Year traditions is counted by hundreds but here are some traditions that you will see everywhere and might like to join in.

1 Seeing Red

The color scheme is red. For clothes, decorations and cards this beautiful shade of scarlet is everywhere. The meaning of red color is luck and goes back to an old story where a monster was afraid of noise and the color of blood.

chinese new year, chinese new year chiang mai, chiang mai festival

chinese new year, chinese new year chiang mai, chiang mai festival

2 Time of Renewal

Chinese New Year is also a time of renewal and a springboard to make fresh start. That is why it is also called the Spring Festival. A few days before the new year is the big cleaning day and Chinese people will only wear new clothes on the first day of the year.

3 Dancing with Dragons

The dance of the dragon is pretty famous. This symbol of prosperity, rain, wind and emperors, winds its way through the streets to the rhythm of pounding drums and crashing * cymbals. The dragon is also believed to bring good luck to people. In Chiang Mai, you will be able to witness Chinese New Year celebrations and traditions at Warorot market, which is also the home of China Town and two beautiful Chinese temples. In the evening, the street along Ping river will be closed to cars allowing street vendors and celebrations. Another evening celebration point will be at Thapae Gate.

chinese new year, chinese new year chiang mai, chiang mai festival

chinese new year, chinese new year chiang mai, chiang mai festival

4 Worship

Every Thai-Chinese family has an altar in their home. One day before the Chinese New Year, offerings are prepared early in the morning for the ceremony. All the sacrifices, including scrumptious dishes, desserts and fruits are displayed on the altar. After all family members have worshiped their ancestors one by one, they eat the blessed sacrifices in the evening, the most important meal of Chinese New Year.

5 Visiting Friends and relatives

A special way for people to express good wishes to each other, and an important activity during the festival is to visit friends and relatives, most of the time with a bag of oranges.

chinese new year, chinese new year chiang mai, chiang mai festival

Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai, the focus of the celebrations will be the Chinese temple at the Warorot market (Kad Luang), by the Ping River. There is also a photographic and art exhibition tracing the history of the Chinese community and the Warorot market. This will take place at Trok Lao Cho, one of the old wooden shophouses at the bottom of Tha Pae Road, adjacent to the market. Still, the celebration is more sedate than seen in other foreign countries, and only recently is perceived as an opportunity for tourists and local non-Chinese Thai people to participate in some way.

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Chiang Mai Festival and Events

Chiang Mai Flower Festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival a Blooming Marvel

chiang mai flower festival

Cool season is the reason for the timing of Chiang Mai flower festival. It’s at this time that roses, chrysanthemums, gladioli and other temperate flowers are in bloom, while tropical plants such as bougainvillea and frangipani are also blossomi ng. This huge variety of shapes, scents and colours provides a rich palette from which to create the dazzling floral floats that are featured in the parade the highlight of Chiang Mai flower festival. During the week leading up to the event, employees and students from the various organizations participating in the event (which include schools, government offices and private companies) spend hours meticulously decorating their group’s float, using not only flowers but also grains of rice and pulses with which to depict typical Northern Thai scenes in intricate detail. Each float represents a local place or theme, which may be a temple or activity such as woodcarving or silk-weaving, and the participants’ costumes reflect this motif. Local schools use the chance to show off the skills of their marching bands, which pump out a medley of familiar tunes as they enliven the procession.

chiang mai flower festival

chiang mai flower festival

Chiang Mai Flower Festival will takes place on the first weekend of February. Early on the Saturday morning the participants and floats are lined up to the east of Nawarat Bridge along Charoen Muang Road; since there are usually over 25 floats in the parade, it often stretches almost as far as the railway station. Beside Nawarat Bridge, a viewing platform is prepared for the Chiang Mai governor, along with the judges whose task is to select the float with the most creative design and most attractive decoration ready for the prize-giving ceremony later in the day. After a short opening ceremony and speech by the governor at around 8 a.m., the grand parade leads off.

chiang mai flower festival

The colourful procession makes its way westwards down Tha Pae Road, then turns left (south) at Tha Phae Gate to go along Kotchasam Road to the southeast comer of the moat, and finally follows a westward route along the south side of the moat to finish in front of Buak Haad Park in the south-west comer of the Old City. The parade pauses frequently to allow time for the enormous floats, carried by concealed pick-up trucks, to negotiate blind turns, with participants shouting instructions to unsighted drivers. These pauses also provide onlookers with plenty of opportunities to take photos of the floats and of themselves posing beside the participants, who are all dressed in colorful costumes. Eventually, the last float in the parade reaches the park sometime between midday and 2 p.m.

chiang mai flower festival
chiang mai flower festival
chiang mai flower festival

The floats would not be complete for a real Thai festival without a contestant in the beauty queen competition to crown their splendid shapes and colours. This gives the local maidens an opportunity to show off the Phasin a wrap-around skirt woven with traditional designs, as well as bright parasols made in nearby Bor Sang, which provide protection from the strong midday sun. Swarms of people, both locals and visitors, line the route, some just for a glimpse, others following along to the park. Since it can take several hours for the parade to pass, you might want to consider reserving a table at a restaurant along the route, such as Ratana’s Kitchen, opposite Wat Mahawan on Tha Pae Road, or Art Cafe, opposite Tha Pae Gate. In this way you can enjoy the parade in air-conditioned comfort rather than standing in the sun for hours on end.

chiang mai flower festival

While the parade is the highlight of the festival, other fun activities take place throughout the weekend both at Tha Pae Gate (on the east side of the Old City) and Buak Haad Park. In the park, vendors cater to the hot and thirsty crowd, selling ice creams, hats and balloons, which add to the atmosphere. Horticultural companies make the most of the opportunity to promote their products, displaying everything from bonsai trees to hybrid roses and water features for gardens. Families settle in the shade for a picnic, while pop music blares from loudspeakers. One of the most popular sidelines is to dress up in hill- tribe gear for a souvenir photo among the beds of brilliant flowers.

Most visitors are content to watch the parade and join in some of the eve­ning fun at either Tha Pae Gate or Buak Haad Park.

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Chiang Mai Festival and Events

Khom or Lanna Lantern

Khom or Lanna Lanterns the Lights of wisdom

khom, khom kwaen, lanna lantern

In Asia and elsewhere, sky lanterns have been traditionally made for centuries, to be launched for play or as part of festivities. Lanterns are a traditional handicraft of Northern Thailand and it is during the Loy Krathong festival that the most beautiful and special ones are displayed. Chiang Mai people compare the lantern’s light to the light of wisdom which sheds light onto the path in darkness. So they offer these lanterns to Buddhist monks in order to worship the Buddha. They believe that offering lanterns is auspicious and brings merit, and they will be born with the greater light of wisdom in their next incarnation.

khom, khom kwaen, lanna lantern

khom, khom kwaen, lanna lantern

Nowadays, there are four different kinds of illuminated lanterns or khom. One of the most famous of these lanterns is the khom kwaen (hanging lantern), which is offered to pay respect to the Buddha, it is also often seen hanging in front of houses, sala and businesses. Khom kwaeng have four different shapes : baat phra (alms bowl), dao (star), takran (basket) and tammajak (wheel of Dhamma). Recently, Lanna artists have created innovative new shapes such as rockets, airplane, umbrellas and so on. Those lanterns are used to decorate the front of shops and houses only.

A khom kwaen’s frame is made of bamboo and covered with saa (mulberry) paper, sometimes with cotton. It is then cut into various patterns, elaborately decorated with silver and gold colors.

khom, khom kwaen, lanna lantern
khom, khom kwaen, lanna lantern

How to?

The Wheel of Dhamma lantern is one of the most famous lantern designs in Chiang Mai. It is also compared to a nest of red ants and has an octagonal shape. Bamboo is cut into 1cm. wide and 2-3 cm. slrips. They are then folded into 16-24 corners tied with thread. Trianglular pieces of bamboo are formed to be the holder part.Saa paper is pasted around the frame leaving the top part open for the candle holder to be put in and the air to flow in. Pieces of paper cut into different patterns like four petal flowers or sun’s rays are used for decoration. A long tail is then added to the lantern.

Normally, Loy Krathong Festival takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the Western calendar this usually falls in the month of November. In Chiang Mai if you are visiting our beautiful city after these dates, you still can enjoy a bit of the festivities by viewing the beautiful lanterns exhibition at the Three Kings Monument.

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Chiang Mai Festival and Events

Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong floats of hope and flying lanterns

Full moon, brightly illuminated night and a sense of communal well-being are the key to the appeal of the annual Loy Krathong celebration.

loy kratongOriginated as a way to pay homage to the river Goddess, Loy Krathong was adopted from ancient Buddhist traditions and then adapted to incorporate Thai characteristics. Taking place upon the full moon of the 12th month on the Thai lunar calendar, Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide, but most magically in Chiang Mai.

Literally meaning “floating basket”, Loy Krathong sees people “float off’ their fears and concerns while wishing for a better future. It is believed that a properly prepared Krathong (basket) is a vehicle to a new beginning, which is why many people come up with elaborate decorations for their baskets, filling them with all kinds of beautiful flowers, candles and joss sticks as well as coins. Some people go to the extreme and also cut off their fingernails and hair and place them on the basket as a symbol of letting go of negative thoughts and experiences. Above all, however, it is a convivial occasion in which to celebrate amidst lots of beautiful lights.

loy kratong

Loy Krathong is widely believed to have been originated by a court lady named Noppamas in the ancient capital of Sukhothai. The krathong basket is of huge significance at the event. Young students make their own krathong a day or two prior to the main event as part of their cultural studies. Many order an elaborate kratong for themselves in advance from their trusted florist. However, those acting on impulse can always buy beautiful krathong on the night of the event.

Whatever kind of krathong you are carrying with you that night, remember to pay homage to the River Goddess and make a wish for a bright future. Who knows what might come of it?

In the Northern Thai province of Chiang Mai, which was once part of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, the ritual of launching hot-air lanterns (khom loy or khom yee peng) is a unique aspect of the region. Traditional belief has it that when the lantern is set adrift and floats away in the sky, so do all the troubles of the villagers. For the residents of Chiang Mai, the Yee Peng Festival is an exciting period where the whole city comes alive swathed in beautifully decorated lanterns made from paper.

yee peng, yeepeng

Loy Krathong generally takes place over one or two days, but Yee Peng in Chiang Mai turns into a three day festival, though there are events scattered over five to six days. Flying lanterns, which are made from thin fabrics such as rice paper, illuminate the sky, making it one of the most romantic events. The focus of the celebrations is around Nawarat Bridge, Thapae Road and along the Ping River. If you like the party atmosphere, then this is the place to go.

A more spiritual venue can be found at Wat Chai Mongkol temple, on Chareonprathet Road. This temple has a concrete landing on the river, where devotees can easily launch their krathongs.

As it is in a temple, the celebration is much more quiet and relaxing for kids and elderly people. Throughout the evening hundreds of khom loy balloons will be released into the air from the temple grounds.

Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar; hence, the exact date of the festival changes every year. In the Western calendar this usually falls in the month of November.

krathong

While in Chiang Mai during Loy Krathong, join in the beautiful Loy Krathong Parade, on the 14th of November. This parade features giant illuminated krathongs, on top of which are perched candidates for the upcoming beauty contest. The parade goes from Wat Phra Singh to the Governor’s house, passing through Thapae gate and Thapae Road. It starts around 7 pm. until late at night.

The sight of hundreds of fluorescent, jellyfish-like lamps gracefully floating overhead creates a magical atmosphere. Illuminated water-ways, buildings, trees and gardens citywide make the historical city of Chiang Mai a destination city for the romantic couples and the young at heart. It is time to make a wish for happiness together and success in love…

Coinciding with Loy Krathong is Yee Peng Festival, which sees people in Chiang Mai celebrate the Lanna full moon by floating into the sky lanterns called “Khom Loy