Surin Elephant Festival
This festival is a celebration of Thailand's friendly giants. Elephants have been an essential part of this country's history, they were used in battle, they aided in agriculture, and they were even used for travel. In fact, the Hindu deity of Ganesha is hugely popular here, and his statues aren't uncommon in most towns and villages.
This elephant festival in northeast Thailand sees enormous parades of elephants that are lovingly fed with fruits and vegetables. These parades are followed by marching bands and elephant shows. Tourists love interacting with these friendly beasts and taking pictures, especially once they have been decorated with flowers and paste. The Surin Elephant Festival usually takes place in the third weekend of November.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Contrary to what its name may suggest, Phuket Vegetarian Festival is one of the most shocking and bizarre festivals in Thailand. During this time, some locals, especially those of Chinese origin, abstain for eating meat, walk barefoot on hot coals, and voluntarily pierce their faces and bodies with all sorts of weird objects in order to purify their souls.
Water Festival (Songkran)
This is the biggest, longest and most fun festival in Thailand and maybe the world. Songkran is a three-day water fight throughout the whole country. Wild scenes of exuberance can be seen throughout the Kingdom, with music, dancing, drinking and people drenched from head to toe.
Water guns, hose pipes, buckets, in fact, anything you can get your hands on can be used to splash people. One thing is for certain: you will get wet! No matter where you are in Thailand, from the 13th to the 15th April, you will be walking distance from some kind of fun celebration.
Loi Krathong (The Festival of Light)
Held each year on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, Loi Krathong is one of Thailand’s most beautiful festivals.
Also known as the Lantern Festival or the Festival of Lights, this ancient, spiritual event honors Buddha and the goddess of the river, and it is celebrated all over the country with colorful festivities, parades, and concerts. The most important tradition, however, is the launching of krathongs.
Loi Krathong coincides with the Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai, where thousands of paper lanterns (Khom Loi) are lit and let off into the sky, creating a magical sight.
Rocket Festival (Boon Bang Fai)
In the farming communities of Issan (north-eastern Thailand), rocket festivals are important events attended by entire villages as they are considered the last big ‘knees-up’ before the planting season begins. The rockets are meant to encourage the gods to send plentiful rains to help the precious rice crops grow, with teams building ever more elaborate rockets. They are paraded around on the first day of the festival before being launched high into the air throughout the weekend.
If any rocket fails to launch, the builders of said rocket are playfully thrown into a mud bath as punishment. The main rocket festival is in Yasothon Province, although many districts hold their own smaller rocket festivals. Live folk music, fastidious drinking of local rice wine, beauty pageants and a party atmosphere accompanies every rocket festival.
Mekong Naga Fireballs
The Mekong Naga Fireballs is one of the festivals in Thailand which has fascinated people from around the world. Taking place beside the Mekong River, thousands of large reddish-pink balls of light are observed to rise into the night sky without a sound or seeming human interaction. They rise to 600 feet in the air.
Locals believe that this is the work of a serpent-like creature called Phaya Naga with divine powers while scientists postulate that it is caused by combustion of sulphur in the river's marshy environment. Regardless of whether it is a scientific phenomenon or the work of a water god, people gather at the Mekong River every October to watch this magnificent site unfold. In recent years, the mysterious red balls of light are joined by bursting of firecrackers.