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Isan Festivals and Popular Events

Every year, Thai people and foreigners in Isan celebrate several unusual festivals and unique events that only take place in certain months.

This segment contains a list of annual festivals in Isan with details about the festivities that only happen in north eastern regions of Thailand.

2024 Calendar of Isan Festivals and Events

It's fair to say that the Buddhist festivals are famous events that take place every year in Thailand.

Not to be outdone by this, Isan folk also celebrate several traditional festivals - often integrating its own historical background.

Yet, these unique Isan festivals and special occasions set the north-eastern provinces aside from the rest of the kingdom. They are based largely on its agricultural base and historical past.

It would be wrong to assume that all regions of Isan are the same. Furthermore, they don't always share the same celebrations.

In other words, Isan is rich in diversity, and nowhere does it stand out more than in the festivals that are so unique to certain provinces.

Chao Pho Phraya Lae Festival


The first few weeks of the new year is the time when Thai people celebrate the Chaopho Phraya Lae Monument in Chaiyaphum.

A worshipping parade - to honour the founder of the city - takes place at this famous monument with an elephant offering procession and several parades from other districts nearby.

Cotton and Tamarind Festival


The first day of February provides an opportunity for the locals in Loei province to give thanks for the most recent cotton harvest.

Also known as Dok Fai Ban, each district sends groups of dancers wearing traditional costumes to join in the festivities and joyous merrymaking.

Anou Savari Festival


This special event takes place only in Nong Khai after Makha Bucha Day during the first few weeks of March.

It is a commemoration of the defeat of the "Hau", Yunanese (1884-86), which resulted in a significant insurgence into Siamese territory.

Traditional Ascent Of Phanom Rung Hill


Standing on the western side of Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram Province at the beginning of April produces an incredible solar phenomenon as the sun climbs up from the ground.

Be amazed as the sun rises through fifteen perfectly aligned temple doors. A ritual takes place to wish for the success of this Isan festival, followed by a traditional royal Khmer parade.

Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival

May to June

When local villagers start to prepare for the annual wet season, they also deliberate their preparations for celebrating the mid-summer Rocket Festival.

In fact, "bun bang fai" is a merit-making ceremony that takes place for several days, most often at the end of May or in early June - when the rainy season arrives.

Note: Even though several regions will share the same ceremony, it is especially popular and famous in Yasothon Province.

Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival)


When townspeople dress up in costumes and handcrafted ghost masks to celebrate the annual 'Ghost Festival', the merit-making event will continue for three full days.

This is an excuse for villagers and tourists to participate in parties and parades around the district of Dan Sai in the north east province of Loei.

It is an exciting time for creativity. Yet, wearing colourful and vibrant white masks made from coconut husks can also be quite scary for young children.

Candle Festival

July to August

The Thai monsoon season, along with an annual lunar holiday, usher in the remarkable Candle Festival to major cities around the kingdom, especially in Ubon Ratchathani.

Thailand's candle jamboree creates an elaborate display and energising combination of music, culinary expertise, dance, and gigantic wax sculptures.

Thai-Lao Rowing Festival

September to October

As the hot, humid Thai weather starts to improve around September, the level of the mighty Mekong River starts to drop.

Mekong River Police officiate the event as experienced crew members compete and race with elegant dragon boats owned by many of the riverside temples.

Naga Fireball Festival


Even though tourists will see it called the Naga Fireball Festival, the Bang Fai Phaya Nak is one of the most perplexing festivals that people in Isan choose to celebrate.

The period known as Buddhist Lent is a time where followers abstain from eating meat and drinking alcohol. In Nong Khai, it also signals the arrival of the Naga Fireball Festival - usually around the end of October.

As people gather together on the banks of the Mekong River in Phon Phisai district, they will spend up to one week celebrating the natural phenomenon as thousands of red fireballs and orbs shoot up into the sky.

Phimai Festival


The Chakrat River runs past the front of the Phimai Historical Park entrance in the Nakhon Ratchasima province.

The usual activities for this spectacular gala combine laser light shows with traditional longboat racing to win the Royal Cup.

Elephant Round-Up Festival


Every year, the locals conduct a cultural festival known as the Surin Elephant Round-up. So, if you're visiting Surin Province around the third week of November you should add this event to your bucket list.

The carnival origins date back to the royal hunts during mediaeval times. Nowadays, this 2-day event provides an opportunity for elephants to display their physical prowess and skills.

For example, the huge animals will be playing soccer games and elephant polo, painting pictures, and having a tug of war competition with the Royal Thai Army.

Silk and Phuk Seow Festival

November to December

Kohn Kaen is a large province within the North Eastern regions in Thailand. It's also a notable area for the Thai silk industry.

A 10-day city-based event combines traditional Phuk Seow friendship ceremonies with colourful street parades around exhibitions of silk production.

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