Planning your holidays in Phuket this year will be a breezier affair with our 2017 event calendar, where you’ll get a heads up on the local festivities taking place! Mark out those dates on your planner, and decide: will you join in the festivities, or would you much rather skip the crowds and stay in your villa?
PHUKET OLD TOWN FESTIVAL
Date: 3 – 5 February 2017
Details: The streets of the Old Town come alive in the Phuket Old Town Festival, an annual affair that takes place just after the Chinese New Year celebrations. There’s much to see and do, with rickshaw rides, a light show, cultural parades, Chinese folk dance performances, dragon dance shows and boat rides along the central canals. Foodies will appreciate sampling street food from the numerous stalls lining the roads. Activities usually start around 3:00 pm, and last till midnight.
Date: 13 – 15 April 2017
Details: It’s that time of the year again, so get ready to go wet and wild! Songkran marks the beginning of the Thai solar calendar. While the dates are fixed for the 13th – 15th April, don’t expect the fun to end just after a couple of days. The Thais love to celebrate, and Songkran festivities typically last throughout the week.
If you’re out and about, don’t expect to stay dry! There’s a high chance that you’ll be splashed with water or colourful dyes thrown out by locals and travellers alike. It’s all done in the name of good fun though, so do keep your calm and smile – even if you’re a reluctant participant in the celebrations. Otherwise, mark out venues where the main celebrations are taking place, and make sure you steer clear of these places throughout the week.
Date: March 2017 (Exact dates T.B.C.)
Details: Myriad street stalls, stage performances, live music acts, exhibitions and Thai games for children fill up the streets of the town during the annual Kathu Street Culture Festival. Take in the colourful sight of parade participants walking the streets in traditional Thai and Chinese costumes, and don’t miss out on sampling the scrumptious Chinese street fare! It’s best to arrive after 5:30 pm in the evening.
POR TOR FESTIVAL
Date: July – August 2017 (Dates T.B.C.)
Details: The Por Tor Festival, otherwise known as the Hungry Ghost Festival takes place each year in Phuket Town. An important event for the Chinese, the festival is celebrated by making offerings to feed spirits that are set free from hell for the entire month.
You may join in the festivities at any of the shrines dotted across the island, but the biggest celebrations take place at two venues: the Seng Tek Bel Shrine and outdoor market along Ranong Road. The former is the center of the festival, as the shrine hosts the event for the entire week (while the festivities usually last a couple of days at other shrines), while the latter comes alive with eye-catching decorations, fun-filled activities and performances. And whichever venue to visit, you won’t be missing out on food; you’ll easily find a variety of tasty Chinese fare at both places.
PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL
Date: 19 – 29 October 2017
Details: The ceremonies of the Phuket Vegetarian Festival aren’t meant for the faint-hearted! Participants walk the streets displaying various acts of self-mutilation – from piercing cheeks and faces, to walking across burning coals – in belief that such acts will bring good luck to the local community.
But if you can stomach the gore, the festival promises to be a fascinating and eye-opening experience. Apart from the intriguing street processions, there are also plenty of rituals undertaken by the locals in the shrines dotted across the island. You’ll also get to sample traditional Chinese vegetarian fare, dished out from one of the many street food stalls.
Date: 4 November 2017 (Celebrations lasts from 3 – 5 November)
Details: The festival of Loy Krathong, held every year during the night of the full moon on the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, celebrates the occasion of making offerings to the spirits of the underworld.
Watch on as the locals float out miniature boats containing coins and offerings out into the oceans, rivers and lakes. Get your cameras ready, for this presents an Instagram-worthy sight, with countless lighted boats flowing out into the water. If you’re one who doesn’t mind crowds, head out to popular spots like Chaweng Lake or the Big Buddha Temple.