World Thai Martial Arts Festival & Wai Khru Muay Thai ceremony
Where: Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province
When: 17 March
What: This is the most important date of the year for practitioners of the ancient art of Muay Thai and attracts boxers from all over the world. Featuring Muay Thai competitions with both Thai and international competitors, there will also be demonstrations of other fascinating Thai traditions like traditional tattooing and sword-making. The highlight is a ceremony in which Muay Thai boxers pay respect to both their instructors and the sport’s legendary hero, Nai Khanom Tom, and which serves as an interesting insight into the history and traditions involved with the sport that’s becoming increasingly popular worldwide.
When: 17-21 July
What: This regatta celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, guaranteeing to make its famous beach-side evening parties even more of an epic celebration. Lasting four days, this race week is fast becoming internationally renowned for its world-class yacht races in the beautiful surroundings of Phuket. The perfect way to inject a little global glamour into your Thailand trip.
Pattaya International Music Festival
Where: Chon Buri Beach Road, Pattaya, Chonburi
When: 22 – 24 March (postponed by a week)
What: This music festival on the beach is a guaranteed fun way to spend a weekend in Pattaya, with its line-up of both Thai and other Asian artists and a mix of pop, rock, r’n’b and hip-hop. Performances last until midnight on three stages over the three days, after which the fun is sure to continue on the beach. The Pattaya International Music Festival is a big crowd-puller from all over Thailand and a great chance to rub shoulders and party with the locals.
Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival
Where: Ubon Ratchathani, Ubon Ratchathani Province.
When: 22 – 23 July
What: Giant, elaborately carved candles are made a couple of days before this festival and then paraded through the town on fantastically embellished floats to the wats, each one representing a different temple or district, accompanied by traditional dancers and musicians. There will also be exhibitions of wax-carving and the customary feasts and celebrations associated with all Thai festivals, making this one a true treat for the senses.
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
Where: TBA, Krabi Province
When: 26 October.
What: Thailand plays host to the eighth and final stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series this year, a competition of the simplest and most exhilarating adventure sport. The world’s top cliff divers will make a series of freefalls from 26-meter heights in what is set to be a thrilling and spectacular event in Krabi – the precise location is being held secret until closer to the time.
Thai Beer Festival
When: November/December TBC
What: An excellent opportunity to sample the best of Thailand’s brews in beer gardens set up around the capital, alongside barbecues and hog roasts to showcase the best of the local fare. The most popular spot is in front of the World Trade Center at Rajprasong Intersection, with live entertainment and atmosphere to boot. Popular with Thais and tourists alike, get there early to grab a seat, sip a cold Chang, sit back and watch the shows.
Surin Elephant Roundup & Elephant Show
Where: Surin Elephant Performance Ground and Si Narong Stadium, Surin
What: The people of Surin, sometimes referred to as “the province of elephants”, have a particular affiliation with the animals, historically capturing and training them to be working animals. Now every year they celebrate the strength and skill of the elephant with this festival, featuring an elephant parade through the city and the famous “Elephant Breakfast” in which locals lay on a feast for the animals – time to get your camera out.
Buffalo Racing Festival
Where: Chonburi, Chonburi Province
When: October (TBC)
What: In front of Chonburi city hall, Thai jockeys race bareback on buffalo along a hundred-meter-long course as locals roar in support and the buffalo leave a cloud of dust in their wake – a sight you probably have never seen before or will again. A colorful, crazy and typically Thai event, there are also fairs, markets and performances as well as the races themselves.
World Film Festival of Bangkok
When: 15 – 24 November
What: The 11th annual International film festival in Bangkok aims to introduce non-mainstream films from all over the world, showcasing independent movies and original work from small filmmakers. More than 80 international films are screened at the festival each year, including English films, and is fast gaining a reputation within the industry, making it a mandatory stop for film buffs passing through the capital.
Monkey Buffet Festival
Where: Pra Prang Sam Yot temple, Lopburi Province
When: 24 November
What: Lopburi draws thousands of visitors every year to see its population of over two thousand long-tailed Macaque monkeys that roam the streets. To thank the monkeys for bringing so many visitors, good fortune and prosperity, each year the locals put out an all-you-can-eat banquet of sweets and fruit for them to munch on. More than 4,000 kilograms of fruit are laid out during this unusual festival – a definite source of vacation anecdotes for when you return home.