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Given its reputation for revelry, it is hardly surprising that there's always some kind of festival or celebration going on in Bangkok.
The various annual events in Bangkok reflect its unique character, combining traditional Thai celebrations and Buddhist ceremonies and all kinds of contemporary festivities with a more modern feel.
Some of the most popular, not-to-be-missed annual events in Bangkok are listed below.
Annual events in Bangkok
Chinese New Year (February)
With one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, Bangkok celebrates the Chinese New Year in its own unique style. Expats should dress in red, head down to Chinatown and enjoy the revelry, moon cakes and firecrackers.
Songkran Festival (April)
The Songkran Festival is a three-day celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. People all over the city douse each other with water in a symbolic ceremony of purification and cleansing for the coming year. It's a great way for expats who aren’t afraid of getting wet to enjoy Thai culture.
Hua Hin International Jazz Festival (May)
An interesting affair for any music lover, the annual event attracts international artists from East and West alike. The festival stretches over six days, and attendees can listen to artists from as far afield as England and Indonesia.
Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (June to September)
An initiative by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the city becomes one big sale and provides the year’s best deals on shopping in Bangkok. From the city’s biggest malls and hotels, plus a good number of stalls. Expat shoppers will be able to find bargains on everything from designer clothes to traditional handicrafts.
Vegetarian Festival (October)
For two weeks in October, vegetarian expats will have no problem finding good food in Bangkok. Observed across the country, the city’s celebrations are centred in Chinatown. Religious rites are performed at Chinese temples, and participating restaurants and stalls around the city wave yellow and red flags to signal they are taking part. Expats should be sure to see a few of the various cultural performances that take place and try the vegetarian dishes made to look like meat that abound in the city during this time.
Bangkok Marathon (November)
Due to the extreme temperatures Bangkok sees in November, the Bangkok Marathon is said to be one of the world’s toughest – all the more reason for new residents to cheer on the runners taking part in this gruelling race or even take up the challenge of participating themselves.
Loy Krathong (November)
Residents gather on the banks of the Chao Phraya River to put thousands of floating baskets on the water. These carry thousands of candles away, flickering towards the horizon. Each person finds their own meaning in an event that some say honours the Water Goddess, and others use it to cast off negative feelings. It's one of the most visually stunning annual events in Bangkok.
►For more on entertainment for expat children, see Kids and Family in Bangkok
Are you an expat living in Bangkok?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Bangkok. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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