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Songkran Festival: Everything you need to know

Songkran is Thailand’s most famous festival. An important event on the Buddhist calendar, this water festival marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year. The name Songkran comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘passing’ or ‘approaching’.

When is the Songkran Festival?

Songkran Festival takes place in April every year, from the 13th to the 15th.

How is Songkran celebrated in Thailand?

Water is an important element of Songkran, especially in more recent times when the throwing of water has become a huge part of the annual celebrations. If you’re visiting Thailand during this period, prepare to get splashed! Crowds of people roam around throwing buckets of water, using water pistols and just generally soaking anyone in the vicinity. Appreciation of family is another important aspect of the festival, with many Thai people making their way to their hometowns to spend time with older relatives. Buddhists also visit temples throughout Songkran where water is poured on Buddha images and on the hands of Buddhist monks as a mark of respect.

What happens on the first day of the festival?

Known as Songkran Day, the first day of the festival is an exuberant celebration with processions of Buddha images taking place throughout the country. The Thai people also prepare themselves for the beginning of the New Year by cleaning their houses. More importantly, April 13th is when the water throwing really gets going.

What is Wan Nao?

Wan Nao is the celebration of the old Thai New Year’s Eve and takes place on April 14th when the sun travels between Pisces and Aires. You can observe one of Songkran’s more formal rituals on Wan Nao as it’s on this day that many Buddhists go to their temples to build sand chedis (a sand castle built to resemble a Buddhist temple).

When is Thai New Year’s Day?

Celebrated on April 15th, Thai New Year’s Day is the final day of Songkran celebrations in many parts of the country. Offerings are left at temples on this day to ring in the New Year, with plenty of other events also taking place.

Is the festival just for locals or can anyone get involved?

Songkran is a hugely important festival to Thai people, but it’s also very popular with visitors and many tourists specifically arrange their holidays around this unique event. Anyone and everyone can and will get involved in the celebrations. If you’re out and about during Songkran, you’re guaranteed to end up soaked but you’ll have lots of fun in the process!

So, if you’re planning a trip to Songkran in Thailand, hopefully this has given you some insight into what makes this event so important and unique, and prepared you for what you can expect from Songkran celebrations throughout the country. Happy water throwing!