Over the past few days announcements have come out that appear to have driven sheer terror in some Thai expats, with the Thai Government saying this year’s Songkran will be the biggest one ever.
This announcement, which we covered here, has to do with UNESCO officially recognising the event as a cultural world heritage and Thailand hoping to further attract the event to tourists on a global scale.
Specifically, the statement that the event would be celebrated from April 1st to the 21st across Thailand caused a lot of panic and a lot of confusion. This was mostly because many feared this meant 21 days of water throwing.
For those not familiar, Songkran is the Thai New Year, also known as the water festival, and Thailand’s biggest holiday. It’s well known for many different cultural and religious activities and provides Thais with the longest holiday break of the year. For many Thais, especially those working in Bangkok, this is the one time of year they return home to see their families in their home provinces.
Of course, it is also known, especially in tourist zones, for wild water fights, concerts, and parties….even though Thai officials continue to downplay this part. Mostly, anyways.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival was entirely cancelled in 2020 and in 2021 and 2022 water play and throwing was banned and only religious functions were allowed, much to the pleasure of some readers who strongly dislike this portion of the festival (Although it is popular with many tourists, especially social media influencers and younger tourists).
Last year, however, the water play returned and will also be a part of this year’s festival, indeed, Thailand is even basically openly promoting it, knowing that it attracts many tourists. To be fair, for those living and working full time, especially in Pattaya where the water play often lasts about a week, it can be a difficult period.
A few months back some prominent Thai officials said the festival would last all April but again, criticism and panic ensued around if this meant a month of water throwing.
Basically, the 21 days of Songkran is nothing new. Different parts of Thailand have celebrated the festival on different days for various reasons for decades. Pattaya’s big day, for example, is April 19th, partly to encourage domestic tourism after the official national days.
The official national days, by the way, will remain April 13th to the 15th, with public holidays running to the 16th. Pattaya, as usual, will likely run from the 12th to about the 19th.
In terms of the 21 days, the thought process behind this is NOT 21 days of water throwing. Instead, it’s best to think about it like Christmas, in which decorations, music, cultural presentations, etc. will take place for the entire month. The idea for Songkran is similar, with events proposed across Thailand from April 1st to the 21st, almost all of them focused on religious, cultural, and traditional heritage aspects.
Yes, there will still be water play, but according to Thai officials it will be limited to the official days and not the whole three week period.
So, for now, readers can rest easy that this doesn’t mean 21 days of water throwing across Thailand. Regardless, many of our regular readers and expats likely will plan to either stay indoors or even leave Thailand during the festival, while droves of tourists, domestic and foreign, arrive.