Phuket Events & Festivals
annual festival is the most colorful and dramatic celebration by
Phukets Chinese-Thai majority and it takes place during the
first nine days of the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar,
usually in late September or early October. It has been an annual
event since the first festival was held in 1825 in the Kathu District
of the island, when according to legend a popular opera troupe on
tour from China mysteriously all fell seriously ill. The Vegetarian
Festival originated as a healing event for the ill-fated and promotes
physical and spiritual recovery through ritual practices that cleanse
the body and mind while strengthening the faith, it is observed
with great reverence.
Chinese believe that great merit is acquired by inviting the nine
gods of the Vegetarian Festival to earth paying homage to them and
in return receiving their blessings and cures and then sending them
back home with a dazzling ceremony.
object is to purify the mind and body and demonstrate the strength
of their faith. During this period, devout Chinese Buddhists dress
in white attire, and eat no meat, eggs, milk, fish, garlic, or spices.
They avoid sex, gambling, swearing, killing animals, drinking alcohol,
smoking, and wearing jewelry. Amazing feats are performed by participants
who are possessed by spirits and or in a trance. They walk on burning
coals, pierce tender parts of their bodies with sharp or thorny
instruments, climb a ladder made of knives barefoot, and generally
do such as might leave an ordinary person dead or in critical condition.
All this is done without any apparent suffering, massive loss of
blood, or other ill-effect. It is an astonishing spectacle, but
not recommended for the faint hearted, performed not by actors but
by the common citizenry. On the morning of the last day of the Vegetarian
Festival elaborate dragon and lion dances are held, along with many
mind-bending acts of self-mortification in front of the clock tower
in the center of Phuket Town. This frantic ceremony lasts into the
evening, as thousands of people clog the streets of Phuket setting
off great strings of firecrackers to bid a last and very noisy farewell
to the gods.
annually on April 13, marks the traditional Thai New Year. The word
Songkran comes from the Sanskrit words for New Year and was probably
inherited along with Buddhism from India making its celebration
one of the oldest traditions in Thailand. During this auspicious
celebration Thais traditionally return home for family reunions,
and visit temples, sprinkling water on Buddha images in reverence.
Meeting friends and sprinkling water on each others' shoulders and
hands is an act of wishing good luck.
traditional gentle sprinkling of water in temples and homes is still
practiced; however, overzealous Thais and tourists alike have resorted
to throwing water at any passersby that dare to venture out of their
hotel. It is a splashy affair for all on that day, and generally
a good way to beat the heat in what is normally the hottest month
of the year in Thailand. Lately many revelers have taken to adding
talcum powder or flour to the water. The victims of this high spirited
affair get a real whitewash.
Remember this date when you are in Phuket. Leave
your cameras and anything likely to suffer water damage behind in
your hotel room, because you will get wet.
Falls on the 11th of April, which is incorporated
into part of the Songkran Festival or the Thai New Year, the Department
of Fisheries has declared it as National Fisheries Day. Baby sea-turtles
are released into the sea at various beaches around Phuket. As the
numbers of sea-turtles have been drastically reduced over the years
this government sponsored program is hoped to both increase the
number of turtles and increase public awareness about the importance
of conserving and protecting this endangered species.
These are held twice annually, once before the
monsoon and once after it. They usually occur in the middle of the
6th and 11th month of each year. During the 3-day event, sea gypsies
are grounded from working. Merry-making on liquor, singing, chanting
and participating in the famous Rahm Rong Ngeng dance
are all part of this auspicious celebration. It is an exorcism of
sort. An elaborate boat called a "prahu" is built of wood.
Each sea gypsy puts in personal items like fingernails and clippings
of hair, while little doll effigies of sailors holding swords, spears,
and guns man the deck. The whole boat is then ceremonially set adrift,
the purpose being to drive sorrow and suffering from the gypsies'
midst. The Chao Nam or Sea Gypsies, at Rawai and Sapam set their
boats adrift on the evening of the 13th; those at Koh Sirey on the
14th; and those at Lam Lah (at the north end of Phuket) celebrate
on the 15th.
scheduled for May. This is one of the more popular international
sports events held annually on the island. It was first held in
1989, and since then the news of the challenging scenic route covering
landscapes and stunning sea views, the prize money, and a chance
to spend a splendid holiday in Phuket, have drawn a growing number
of international marathon runners and those who follow the sport.
Added to this spectacle is a 10Km mini-marathon
that is broken into age groups from the very young to those over
sixty. The beginning and ending venue is at Saphan Hin Park in Phuket
origins of this of this charming evening are not clear but it is
the most beautiful of Thai celebrations. One legend has the festival
beginning in the 13th century Sukhothai period when a young princess
floated a small boat laden with candle and incense downstream past
a pavilion where her husband was entertaining friends. It has grown
to be one of the countrys most enchanting festivals.
As the full moon rises, Thais fill tiny floral
boats with candles and incense and launch them into the rivers,
canals, ponds, and the sea to wash away sins and to bless love affairs.
Join in the fun: buy a kratong from a vender, light the taper and
incense, place a small coin and a few hairs plucked from the head,
say a prayer and send it on its way on a pond or waterway. The celebration
begins about 7.30 PM. Thai women dress in beautiful traditional
An annual yacht race on December 5th in honor of
His Majesty the King of Thailand. First held in 1987, to celebrate
the 5th 12-year cycle of the Kings birth. More than 100 racing yachts
from all over the world compete in different classes, in what has
now become Asias premier yachting event. The competition features
a one week series of races between Nai Harn Beach and Phi Phi Island.