The 10th LAANTA-LANTA FESTIVAL, takes place 7th, 8th & 9th March 2013.
This festival is held every year in March, in Lanta Old Town, Ko Lanta Island. The festival is a wonderful celebration of harmony, also a chance for locals and visitors to enjoy the unique culture which still exists on this beautiful, unspoilt island.
In a world where culture and religious differences often divide communities and countries, Ko Lanta provides the proof that people of diverse and varied ethnic groups can live together in peace and harmony and, have been doing this for hundreds of years. Lanta Old Town has a history dating back 500 years. Ancient Chinese style houses can still be seen there. During this festival, tourists can see traditional culture, previously unseen ceremonial demonstrations, music and dance performances, folk games, water sport competitions and traditional arts and crafts. You can enjoy the tastes of various foods which are provided by the local people and by some of the hotels on the island. There is an abundant choice of delicious snacks and meals, available throughout the three days. Southern local performances of ‘Rong-Ngeng’ (the traditional music and dance of the ancient Sea Gypsies) can be enjoyed on the main stage, as well as acts presented by groups from all over Thailand. A second stage features contemporary jazz and reggae performances nightly, in a relaxed party atmosphere. At the beginning of the festival, the Sea Gypsy’s perform a traditional boat floating ceremony, to cast bad spirts out to sea and make for a safe and happy event.
A lovely experience. . . . be sure not to miss out on this annual festival. If not this year, the next!
Other Thai Festivals
Krabi province, of with Ko Lanta is a part, is home to people from diferent ethnic and religious backgrounds. Locals are often celebrating religious festivals; whether Thai Buddhist, Thai-Chinese or Thai-Islamic tradition. Visitors can enjoy these annual festivities and you don’t have to belong to any religious faith to take part.
Songkran – The Thai New Year Festival – from 13th April
Thai Buddhists use a Lunisolar Calendar, where the New Year (Songkran) is celebrated from the 13th April. This festival is celebrated all over Thailand, and Thais definitely know how to celebrate!
On 13th April, be aware, everyone will be armed with icy cold buckets of water, water pistols and talcum powder! Be prepared to get saturated! It is, actually appreciated, as April is the hottest month of the year.
Monks and elders are shown special respect by all in the community. Buddha images are cleaned, processions are held and people sprinkle each other with water to wash away bad luck. The festival originated from the idea that if you captured water after it had been poured over Buddhas for cleansing, it would be blessed water. This would then be poured on the shoulder of an elder or family member to pay respect. But over time, this has evolved into a nationwide ‘water fight!’ The festival can last up to one week in some parts of the country.
(Non-religious Festival) Krabi International Rock Climbing – Annually in April
This event is held on Tonsai Beach and Poda Island. It aims to publicise rock climbing activities in the Krabi Province and to promote it as annual tourist event. In addition, the image of Krabi would be projected as a ‘Rock Climbing Destination.’ With its stunning cliffs, beautiful nature and fully equipped facilities. Krabi has the reputation amongst rock climbers as a world renowned destination.
Visakha Bucha Day – Annually in April, May or June
This is one of the most important days in the Buddhist calender because of three important incidents in the life of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The birth, the enlightenment and the passing away, miraculously fell on the same day and month, the ‘Vesak full moon day.’ Each year, Buddhists throughout the world gather to perform the worship to recollect the wisdom, purity and compassion of the Buddha. The date of the holiday is not fixed, it varies every year, depending on the moon cycle and whether the year is a leap year. Typically, it takes place on the fifth or sixth day of the full moon, which is usually either April or May, but during leap years, it takes place in June. Candlelit processions are held in local Wats (Buddhist temples.)
Asalha Puja – Annually in July
This festival is on the Full Moon day. Asalha Puja, also known as Dhamma Day, is one of Buddhism’s most important festivals, celebrating Buddha’s first sermon, which took place at Deer Park in Benares, India. In this sermon, Buddha set out to his five former associates, the doctrine that had come to him, following his enlightenment. This day marks the first ever Buddhist monk ordainment, it is a popular choice of day for Thais to enter monkhood.
Queen Sirikit of Thailand’s Birthday – 12th August
This is a very special day for the people of Thailand, as it is the birthday of their beloved queen, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. In commemoration of Her Majesty, this day is also recognized as National Mother’s Day.
Sat Duan Sip Festival (Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month) – Annually in August
This festival, which translates as ‘Festival of the Tenth Lunar Month’ is celebrated to honour ones’ ancestors. The festival takes place on 14th and 15th days of the waning moon, in the tenth lunar month, when it is believed that ancestor spirits are allowed to visit the earth. Families prepare elaborate baskets full of delicious offerings for their deceased relatives. The baskets are then taken to the temple in colourful and joyous processions.
Loy Ruea Chao Le Festival – Annually in May and October
This old ritualistic tradition takes place on Ko Lanta. The festival is held annually, on the full moon day in the sixth and the eleventh months of the lunar calendar (around May and October). This is a religious rite, performed by the sea gypsies (Chao ley people) of Ko Lanta. They dance their famous ‘Rong Ngeng’ around the boats of misfortune, to be set adrift, at a beach near Ban Saladan. Ceremonies feature singing and dancing. This festival is expected to bring prosperity, happiness and good luck to the participants.
Vegetarian Festival – Annually late September or October
Held during the first 9 days of the ninth lunar month. Many non-vegetarian Thai-Chinese follow a strict vegetarian diet for ten days and wear white clothing. Fire crackers are also set off. The Mah Song (which translates as ‘entranced horses’) must be pure of heart, in order to take part in the self-flagellation process. They congregate at the local Chinese temple and are placed into a trance-like state by various procedures and a series of chants. Most of these people end up looking like zombies, with their eyes rolled back in their sockets. They partake in rituals such as; walking across hot coals, cutting themselves with machetes, pushing spikes through their cheeks, climbing ladders made of razor blades, sitting on chairs studded with nails and piercing their faces with knives, swords, spikes, machetes, axes and even truly bizarre items like bicycle frames and shovels! The belief amongst the Ma Song is that these rituals will draw the evil away from their local community and onto themselves. Whether or not this is true, we shall never really know. But to those that participate in the festivities, it means a lot.
Krabi Boek Fa (Andaman Sea Festival) – Annually 16th-18th November
This festival marks the official beginning to Krabi province’s tourist season, with parades, musical performances, water sports competitions, longtail boat races, open-air markets featuring; locally-produced goods, tasting of local food, cultural shows and good-natured fun.
Loy Krathong – Annually in November
One of the most beautiful of the Thai festivals. This festival pays respect to the water gods and asks that they take away ones’ problems and bad luck, with the hope of good luck for the coming year. This is done by floating a krathong. A traditional Krathong is made from a piece of banana tree, this is then decorated with banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense sticks. A piece of your finger nail, some tufts of your hair and some coins are placed on your Krathong, the candle and incense are lit and it is set afloat on the river or sea.
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand’s birthday – 5th December
This day is regarded as a very special day in Thailand, as it marks Thailand’s beloved King’s birthday. Since he is recognized as the ‘Father of the Thai Nation,’ his birthday is also observed as Thailand’s National Father’s Day. Thais love their king and the day is celebrated as a national holiday.
Chinese New Year – Annually in February
Also known as ‘Spring Festival,’ it is celebrated with dragon dances, firecrackers, Chinese food and processions. The celebrations run for fifteen days and take place throughout Thailand.
Makha Bucha Day – Annually late February or early March
One of the most important events in the Thai Buddhist calendar. It takes place on the full moon day of the third lunar month. Makha Bucha commemorates the unique event when 1,250 of the Lord Buddha’s disciples spontaneously gathered to hear him preach.
In the morning, many Thai people get up early to make merit by giving alms to monks (tam-bun). In the evening, many temples are busy with people listening to sermons and performing the candle ceremony known as ‘Wian Tian.’ Holding flowers, incense and a lighted candle, Buddhists walk clockwise around the main part of the temple. This is done three times.