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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, Buddhist ceremonies and 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 in preparation for the coming year. It's a great way for expats who aren’t afraid of getting wet to enjoy Thai culture.
Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (July to September)
An initiative by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Amazing Thailand Grand Sale transforms Bangkok into a shopper's paradise. Each year, more than 10,000 shops and vendors from all over the country converge on the city to offer the year's best deals. From the city’s biggest malls and hotels to a good number of roadside stalls, expat shoppers will be able to find bargains on everything from designer clothes to traditional handcrafts.
Vegetarian Festival (September/October)
For two weeks in late September or early October, vegetarian expats will have no problem finding good food in Bangkok. Although it's observed across the country, Bangkok'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 mouthwatering vegetarian dishes 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)
Loy Krathong sees residents gathering on the banks of the Chao Phraya River to place floating baskets containing lit candles on the water. Expats can then watch as thousands of them float away, flickering towards the horizon. Many people believe in different meanings for this event, and expats will therefore have the chance to find their own meaning. Some say it honours the Water Goddess, and others view it as a way to cast off negative feelings. Regardless, 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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