Celebrating the Songkran Festival 2015 (Schedule in Chiang Mai, Thailand)

Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai

Songkran Festival 2015 Schedule in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The hottest month in Thailand is sure to sizzle even more as the country gears up to celebrate the Songkran Festival this year. Everyone and anyone are headed for Chiang Mai where the biggest celebrations are typically held to witness this cheery and colorful yet prayerful event.

Songkran Festival 2015
Songkran Festival Photo by Takeaway – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What is Songkran Festival?

Songkran is Sanskrit for “astrological passage” or “a move or change in the position of the sun from Aries to Taurus” but it may be more aptly described as the passage into the appropriate sign of the Zodiac. In the context of the Songkran Festival it is the passage of the sun into the Zodiac sign of the Ram (Aries). It is widely celebrated in not only Thailand but also Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar (formerly Burma). In many ways, it is similar in significance and influence to the Thai as the Lunar New Year is for the Chinese. Unlike the lunar New Year, however, the Songkran Festival is fixed to start between April 13 and 15, only occasionally beginning on the 16th. In terms of timing, it is similar to the Christian Easter celebration.

The Songkran Festival can be hilarious because this is when thousands of people join in on a water fight. It is also when maidens play tricks on the unfortunate young men who pass by them. They catch and bind them and then blacken their skins.

Things to Bring during Songkran Festival

If you are planning to join in the festivities, you should be prepared to get wet. Just because you’re a visitor doesn’t mean you will get special treatment. Bring a water pistol and enjoy yourself! Brings a lot of T-shirts and shorts because it will be very hot and that is what most people will be wearing. Pants, shoes, watches, jewelry, and anything valuable are a definite no-no. Bring sandals instead.

Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai
Songkran in Chiang Mai Thailand by Takeaway – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Why Chiang Mai?

The Songkran Festival is celebrated everywhere, but none better than Chiang Mai. This is primarily because Chiang Mai has the biggest land area among the culturally significant cities in the northern part of Thailand. Strategically located at the foothills of Chang Mai Province, it is picturesque and magical, a quaint mix of traditional and modern Thailand.

There is so much to see and do in Chiang Mai that the Songkran festival is almost an overload of sensory input. Almost, but not quite. For those who intend to make the most of their visit, it would be best to arrive in the city at least a week before the Songkran Festival begins (April 13 in 2015) to enjoy what Chiang Mai has to offer, not the least of which is the street foo. Among the more formal spectacles are the Night Bazaar, Botanic Garden, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, and the ancient walls and temples.

Below is the official Songkran Festival 2015 Schedule as typically observed in the past few years in Chiang Mai:

April 13

  • 6 a.m: Merit making and alms giving at Tha Pae Gate
  • 8:00 a.m: Grand opening ceremony at Tha Pae Gate
  • 8:30- noon: Lanna offerings contest, performances at Tha Pae Gate
  • 7 a.m. – noon: Parade of Mae Ying Kee Rod Theep Kaeng Jong, or Lanna girls on bicycles with umbrellas beauty contest, from the TAT office to Tha Pae Gate.
  • 9.00 – 9.30 a.m: Invitation ceremony of Buddha Sihing image on a special carriage at Wat Phra Sing.
  • 1:00 p.m: Invitation ceremony for Phra Buddha Sihing image, parade of Buddha images and Miss Songkran float in the procession from Train Station to Wat Phra Sing.
  • 7 pm. to midnight: Miss and Mr. Songkran Contest, Lanna local arts competition at Tha Pae Gate

April 14

  • 3 p.m. – 5 p.m: Buddhist procession from Iron Bridge to Tha Pae Gate carrying holy sand and relics

April 15

  • 1:30 – 6 p.m: Blessings will be offered to the Chiang Mai Governor with participants starting from 3 Kings Monument to the Governor’s Residence on Nawarat Bridge.

  1. Lucas Martin says

    Brilliant insight! Its fantastic to get a perspective on Bali that can only be likened to a local’s observation. The Songkran festival looks incredible. We were lucky enough to visit Chang Mai and Thailand during our travels through Thailand. We found Chang Mai was a little more ‘family friendly’ however, so we spent a majority of our time there. Phuket seems like it might be better for groups of friends. We stayed at Karma Royal Chang Mai while we were there, and it was just perfect for us. We played tennis, swam in our private pool (a lot), chilled out in the spa, and spent a bit of time reading in the garden. I managed to forget my book, but they had a library so I wasn’t left without! The kids loved the elephant rides and indoor games. This place is truly beautiful, and ideal for families. Highly recommended.

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