I love festivals in Thailand. They are the reflection of Thai tradition and way of live. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is one of my favourites. It takes place annually for three days on the first weekend of February. It is one of the three main events of the year in the city with Loi Krathong in November and Songkran, the Thai New Year, in mid-April.
This year festival was officially launched on Friday, 2 February, with the opening ceremony in Nong Buak Haad Park, followed by Miss Flower Festival beauty pageant and traditional dance performances.
The big parade, the highlight of the festival took place on Saturday, 3 February. This is the day of the festival you should not miss! It officially started from Nawarat Bridge at 8 a.m. On the bridge a seating tribune was installed for the audience, but I would not recommend you to just sit there and wait for the parade to march by.
In my opinion, the best way to enjoy the parade is to walk and be free, to sometimes follow it, sometimes go ahead to meet the next group parading.
This year (2018), Maria Poonlertlarp, Miss Thailand Universe 2017 was sitting in the leading car, waving and smiling at the audience.
And for more than four hours, musicians, dancers, people in traditional costumes, fanfares, cheerleaders and of course impressive flower decorated floats marched from Nawarat Bridge, went along Tha Pae Road, turned left in front of Tha Pae Gate, went around the old city’s moat and finally arrived at Nong Buak Haad Park.
My little tip: The parade officially starts from Narawat Bridge, but all dancers, musicians and floats would already be standing by for the march at the location between the Bridge and the Chiang Mai Railway Station. There you can take pictures of them or selfies with them with almost no crowd.
Every afternoon through to late evening of the three-day festival, there were cultural performances and live concerts at Tha Pae Gate – the main stage.
At the main venue, the Nong Buak Haad Park, there’s an impressive exhibition with many colorful flowers. I am not a botanist, but I could tell that there were tulips, daffodil, chrysanthemum, begonias, azaleas, marigolds, red salvias… among others. How do I know? It was written on little signs.
There’s a stage inside the park too, and in the afternoon through to the evening visitors can also enjoy Thai traditional and Lanna dance performances and live concerts. The corner street around the park was closed to pedestrians from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. to welcome this wonderful flower exhibition, a flower and plant market and of course many food stalls.
We are in Thailand, there is no event without plenty of food!
So next year, if you are visiting Chiang Mai during the Flower Festival and if you are looking for a place to have lunch or dinner, just go there! You will experiment the tasty Thai Street Food famous all around the world.
And since the festival is normally held on a weekend, do not forget to pay a visit to Chiang Mai Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets.
About Michael Bauswein (Mike Thailandee)
Creator of Thailandee.com, Mike is French and travelled in Thailand from North to South and West to East for many years and shares his experiences on website in French and English. He’s also one of the winners of the TAT Newsroom Blogger Campaign 2017 Website: Thailandee.com