January Thailand Festivals

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The year begins with the three-day hangover of New Year’s Day; nobody on earth celebrates the new year like the Thais.

Mae Salong Cherry Blossom Festival: The Chinese settlement, Ban Santi Khiri, north of Chiang Rai, sponsors a floral parade attended by beauty queens, local minority groups, and young Chinese marchers decked out in red costumes. Events also include traditional tea harvest dances and a khao tok hilltribe dinner. Mid-January.

Borsang Umbrella Festival: Borsang honors the town’s main handicraft–hand-painted umbrellas–with painting competitions, exhibitions, and the crowning of Miss Borsang. Late January.

Don Chedi Memorial Fair: In 1592, Prince (later king) Naresuan defeated the prince of Myanmar on an elephantback duel that saved Ayuthaya from Burmese occupation. The actual battle site was lost until 1913 when Prince Damrong rediscovered the ancient chedi marking the site of the battle, now reenacted during the week-long festivities held just outside Suphanburi, two hours west of Bangkok. Late January.

Nakhon Phanom Prathat Phanom Festival: A week-long fair that honors the talismanic symbol of Issan Buddhism at the most sacred stupa in the northeast. Nakhon Phanom. Late January.

King Mengrai Festival: The founder of the Lanna Kingdom is honored with a week-long fair sponsored by the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and several private corporations. Highlights include a procession of young men and women dressed in traditional Lanna-style costumes, Shan and Burmese contingents, and a theatrical light-and-sound show based on a legendary Lanna warrior. Chiang Rai. Late January.