Chiang Mai Events and Festivals
Calendar of Events
Chiang Mai’s festivals and events largely celebrate its wealth of cultural, artistic and natural heritage. Yee Peng is perhaps one of the most illustrative examples of the ancient Lanna influence on Chiang Mai’s tradition, through the unique decorations and cultural festivity.
Flower festivals are also popular, as the city’s relatively cooler climate allows various species of ‘winter flowers’ to blossom. Other festivals celebrate Chiang Mai’s treasured art and craft tradition, such as Bo Sang Umbrellas Festival, Chiang Mai Fest and Nimmanhemin Arts and Crafts Fair.Read More
- Wat Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill-Tribe Village
- Doi Inthanon National Park Tour
- Ping River Dinner Cruise
- Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Dance Performance
- Old City Half-Day Bike Tour
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- 2-Day Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour with Lunch
- Aroy Aroy Thai Cooking School & Market Tour
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
All Events and Festivals in Chiang Mai
Location: Bo Sang Village, Sangkampaeng
Date: Third weekend of January
This annual festival falls on the third weekend of January to celebrate Chiang Mai’s umbrella-making heritage. Cultural parades, performances, umbrella-making workshops and crafts sales fill the festival’s three-day itinerary. The one-kilometre street is transformed into a festival ground, with shops and houses decked out in their full Lanna splendour. Read More...
Cherry Blossoms Viewing
Location: Doi Inthanon, Doi Khun Chang Kien (Doi Suthep-Pui) and Doi Khun Mae Ya (Pai, Mae Hong Son)
Date: Late December to mid January
As the cool ‘winter’ breeze arrives from Southern China, many of Chiang Mai’s lush forested mountains transform themselves into a pink canvas filled with Thai cherry blossoms. These pink blooms, known locally as Nang Phaya Sue Krong, stay for a short two- to three-week period, before wilting and falling to the ground. Their short-lived nature is a blessing in disguise, as travellers from all corners of Thailand head for Doi Khun Chang Kien, at the top of Doi Suthep-Pui, to camp out overnight and take in the picturesque scenery.
Location: Nawarat Bridge-Tha Pae Gate-Buak Haad Park, Old City
Date: First weekend of February 2017
Chiang Mai and flowers are inseparable. Known as the ‘rose city’, Chiang Mai’s relatively cool ‘winter’ climate sets an ideal condition for rare blossoms to flourish. Rare winter orchids, ancient bonsais, roses, lilies and many more paint vivid colours in public parks, streets and various corners of the Old City.
A floral parade, the biggest highlight, is not to be missed. Starting at 8:00 (Sat) along Charoen Muang Road, the parade progresses across Nawarat Bridge, then down Tha Pae Road before culminating at Buak Haad Park in the southwestern corner of the city wall.
Date: 13-15 April
Songkran in Chiang Mai blends tradition and colourful festivity. For three days, the celebration encompasses a string of cultural activities, from paying respect to the elderly and bathing Phra Singh (Buddha image) in a procession to getting soaked in a series of water fights and witnessing a Nang Songkran (Miss Songkran pageant) parade. The old city moat and anywhere along Tha Pae Road to Kaew Nawarat Bridge is the epicentre of Songkran activities. The best advice for those who wish to stay dry is to stay away from the Old City walls and the riverside. Read More...
Location: Wat Chedi Luang, Old City
Date: Sixth lunar month, first day of the wanning moon (late May or early June)
The Inthakhin is the city pillar and a shrine where the city’s guardian deities dwell. According to ancient Hindu tradition, the city pillar plays a symbolic role as a foundation stone for any new city to be built. It designates the epicentre of the urban grid, then the rest of the city is constructed around it.
In Chiang Mai, the Inthakhin is at Wat Chedi Luang and every year, citizens of Chiang Mai convene for a week long worship ritual believed to be the annual blessing for the city. Go after sunset to witness a magnificent offering ceremony or wait until the last day, when festival culminates with a procession around the Old City moat. Note that only men are allowed to enter the shrine; women are obliged to offer flowers, candles and incense outside the shrine.
Location: Wat Phra Non, Mae On and Wat Pa Tung, Sankhampaeng
The rocket festival is better known in northeastern Thailand (Isan), but Chiang Mai has one as well, although not as festive or ‘loud’. The fun part is the rocket contest, in which the highest score is awarded based on how high and straight the rockets fly. These are homemade rockets, made from bamboo pipes and gunpowder, so don’t expect rocket science; the size of each rocket, though, can be up to 20 metres long.
Excitement and explosions aside, the main purpose of the rocket festival is to pray for rain at the beginning of a new planting season. It’s considered a merit-making event, as temples are involved. While you may see ‘merit makers’ raise glasses of Thai whiskeys and bet on the winning rocket, these activities are not part of the merit-making tradition and thus should not be encouraged.
By far the most romantic of Thailand’s celebrations, Loy Krathong takes place on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. The Thai word 'Loy' means 'to float in Thai, while 'Krathong' is a small raft, about a hand span in diameter, made from a section of banana tree trunk – although today specially made bread 'flowers' or even Styrofoam are used. Thais decorate their Krathongs with elaborately-folded banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense sticks. Some people also add hair or fingernail clippings.
Between the months of August and October the tides in Thailand’s waterways are at their highest and with the moon at its brightest, the stage is set for Read More...
Nimmanhemin Arts and Crafts Fair, Nimmanhemin
Location: Nimmanhemin Soi 1
Date: First week of December
After more than a decade in the run, the Nimminhemin Arts and Crafts Fair has become one of the most beloved and anticipated events in Chiang Mai. During the three-day event, gallery shops and home décor boutiques stay open until late, and the entire soi comes to life with live music performances, street food, decorative lights and souvenir stalls selling for all kinds of handmade art and crafts. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed, so chill out and simply enjoy the best experience Nimmanhemin Soi 1 has to offer.
Date: Full moon of the twelfth lunar month (November)
One of the most memorable festivals, Loy Krathong has fascinated those who have taken part in its tradition. The festival takes place on the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, the time when rivers are filled to the brim and the moon is believed to be at its brightest.
In Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong is preceded by Yee Peng, or lantern festival, during which people release floating lantern into the sky. It is during Yee Peng that you see Chiang Mai homes and public places bedecked in colourful hanging lanterns and flag decorations (or ‘tung’). The act of Read More...