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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
National Children's Day (January)
The second Saturday of January is dedicated to children across the country and in Bangkok. Young children can ride the MRT and BTS for free, visit the Museum of Siam and have their picture taken in the Prime Minister's office. Most malls will also offer children discounts and host various activities to keep them entertained.
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 merriment, moon cakes and firecrackers.
Songkran Festival (April)
The Songkran Festival is a three-day celebration of the traditional Thai New Year. The festival was extended to seven days in 2018 to allow people to travel, even though the celebratory events still take place over three days. People all over the city douse each other with water in a symbolic ceremony of purification and cleansing to prepare for the next year. It's a great way for expats who aren’t afraid of getting a bit wet to enjoy Thai culture.
Amazing Thailand Grand Sale (July to August)
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 Bangkok'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 handicrafts.
Vegetarian Festival (September/October)
For two weeks in late September or early October, vegetarian expats will have no problem finding good food in Bangkok. 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)
Established in 1987, the Bangkok Marathon is said to be one of the world's toughest due to the extreme temperatures the city sees in November. This is 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 form a personal interpretation. Some attend the event to honour 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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