Festivals & Events in North-East (Isan)

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Khon Kaen International Marathon
When: January
Where: Khon Kaen

Khon Kaen International Marathon is run their 8th event in January since its inception. There are 4 types of competition; marathon (42.195 km), half marathon (21.100 km); mini marathon (11.550 km) and Walk - Fun Run. The run starts and finishes at the Golden Jubilee Convention Hall, Khon Kaen University. The course of the run travels through academic areas, cultural and ethnic communities. All runners who finish the run will receive a medal and a certificate and the walk-fun run runners will receive a medal. The first 5 females and first 5 males in each age group will be awarded with trophies and cash prizes.
Ban Chiang World Heritage Festival
When: February
Where: Udon Thani

As one of the most sophisticated prehistoric sites in Southeast civilisation, Ban Chiang, the World Heritage Site holds a fascinating event where there are performances from Thailand, Lao PDR and Vietnam, light and sound presentation, traditional dinner, exhibition as well as local product sales and many more.
Garland Festival
When: February
Where: Yasothon

The Garland Festival is held at Ban Yard Fah, Maha Chana Chai, Yasothon during Makha Pucha Day. Buddhists believe that on that day, the Lord Buddha comes back from heaven after preaching his mother and he is welcomed by angels with flowers and rice. This belief is turned into the tradition. The villagers make garlands from baked rice which will be shown in a parade and used for decorating the temple’s pavilion.
Phrathat Phanom Fair
When: February
Where: Nakhon Phanom

The festival takes place in February or early March. The fair starts in the morning with Buddhist ceremonies which brings Phra Uppakhup from the bank of Mekong River to Phrathat Phanom Temple. Then there are worship ceremony of the Phrathat Phanom Stupa, traditional dances for revering the Stupa, local product sales, local games and entertainment at day and night.
Bun Phawet Festival
When: March
Where: Roi Et

Bun Phawet is a Buddhist ceremony to celebrate the return of Vetsandon, who was the previous life of The Lord Buddha. The festival is held for 3 days at the Somdech Phra Srinakarindra Park and Bueng Phalan Chai. There are a parade of Phra Ubbakhup around the town, 13 parades of Phrawet arranged by public and private organisations, light and sound presentation, cultural performances and a sermon of all chapters of the Maha Wetsandon Chadok in the Buddhist temple.
Miracle Phanom Rung – the Ascent of Khao Phanom Rung
When: April
Where: Buriram

The Prasat Hin Phanom Rung Fair’s highlights include a rarely seen invocation ritual ceremony, a procession to pay homage to the gods and celestial beings, regional dinner, cultural performances, light and sound presentation and a wide range of souvenir sales. Also, during this period, there is an astro-archaeological phenomenon which takes place only 4 times a year. The sun rises straight through 15 doorways twice, in April and September. The sun sets through the doorways twice in March and October.
Dok Khun Siang KHaen Songkran Festival
When: April
Where: Khon Kaen

To mark Thai New Year, Isan people celebrate the festival with procession of floral floats decorated with Golden Shower tree flowers, the flower emblem of the province. The street is filled with Isan food, cultural performances, contests, folk music and the famous water splashing which is best around Si Chan Rd.
Bun Bang Fai Lan Festival or Rocket Festival
When: May
Where: Yasothon

The convivial festival, indigenous to Isan region is held during on the second week of May on the purpose to create harmony amongst the residents and to appease gods for rains and prosperous food. The residents grouped up in team to build the bamboo rocket, which will be decorated and filled with niter. The shapes of the rocket vary but most of them are made into spraying-water naga. The festival also includes all-night music and dance performances, street parade of the rockets accompanied by music and dance and the launching of the rockets.
Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festival
When: June
Where: Dansai, Loei

A unique festival of Dan Sai in Loei province, Phi Ta Khon or ghost festival is believed to be a celebration of the return of the Buddha-to-be, Prince Vessandorn after leaving the village on a very long journey. People in the village were celebrating so loud that awoke the dead to join the celebration. On the first and second day of this 3-day festival, people in the village are dressed in ghostly attire with ragged and colourful clothes and colourfully painted masks made from local bamboo rice cooker. The full version of the procession is on the second day which the residents sing and dance throughout the village. The last day is Buddhist ceremony in the temple.
Siam Tulip Festival
When: June
Where: Chaiyaphum

June, as a part of the early rainy season, is the only time in a year that Siam Tulip is in bloom. The field of Pa Hin Ngam National Park and surroundings are stunningly covered with pinkish-purple flowers. As a part of the festival, there are mountain bike competition, exhibition, rock climbing and visit the viewpoint at Sai Thong National Park in the same province.
Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival
When: July
Where: Ubon Ratchathani

The festival is held around Asanha Pucha which is around the beginning of Buddhist Lent and features more than 60 pieces of candle work will be displayed in a parade around the town accompanied by traditional music and dance. The festival also includes the international candle-carving competition from various countries, performance from grand symphonic band, grand Thai classic theatrical Khon (classical Thai mask dance) performance as well as beauty pageant. The candles are carved a couple of days before the procession.
Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival
When: October
Where: Sakon Nakhon

The festival marks the end of Buddhist Lent and is complemented by Princess’s Cup Royal long-boat race. Isan people believe that high merits can be gained by offering beewax to the monks to use to light at night and to make candles. Originally, only beewax was offered. Then the tradition has developed into a big ceremony after times. Beewax nowadays is used to build intricately carved castles and brought in a procession and competition. There are local cultural performances and local music performances which reflect the lively and fun nature of Isan people.
Bang Fai Phaya Nak (Naga Fireballs)
When: In the middle of October
Where: Nong Khai

The phenomenon that occurs along Mekong River in Amphoe Phon Sai, the naga fireball is the fireballs flying from the surface of the river into the night sky and always occurs at the beginning of the full moon night in 11th lunar month. The locals believe that naga, the serpent dwelling in the river, propels the fireballs to remind the residents to treat the river with respect.
Buriram Royal Trophy Long Boat Races
When: November
Where: Buriram

There is an elephant parade for the Royal Trophy of H.M. the King and H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhon, long boat races of various sizes which are large with 55 rowers, medium-sized with 40 rowers and small with 38 rowers. The festival also features the elephant swimming races between elephants and elephant with man as well as water boxing.
Phimai Festival
When: November
Where: Nakhon Ratchasima

The event is held by TAT Nakhon Ratchasima and Fine Arts Department at Phrommathat Ground of Phimai Historical Park and the bank of Chakkarat River. The highlight of Phimai Festival includes the jaw-dropping light and sound presentation, traditional dances by Mun River, telling a story of glorious era of King Jayavarman VII. During 13 - 14 November, traditional boat races take place on the bank of Chakkarat River and Mun River. Indigenous to Nakhon Ratchasima, there is Korat cat competition, Khon (classical Thai mask dance), local art and Phimai food competition are added to this colourful event.
Surin Elephant Round-Up and Elephant Show
When: November
Where: Surin

The importance of elephant in the Kingdom has been revered for centuries. Once, the inhabitants of Surin were known for their abilities to catch and train the wild elephants. Now, there is no more wild elephant round-up. However, the residents have prolonged their tradition of revering the domesticated elephants. This internationally recognized event includes demonstration of various techniques in capturing and training the elephants, elephant talent competitions, a presentation of ancient elephant warfare and adoring tug-of-war between men and elephants.
Silk Phuk Siew Festval and Red Cross Fair
When: 29 November – 10 December
Where: Khon Kaen

Phuk Siew or friendship making is an ancient tradition of northeastern people. The ritual ceremony demonstrates the friendship not only amongst friends but also families, relatives and siblings. During the fair, visitors can participate in the friendship making ritual, enjoy northeastern dinner, ceremonial procession, local silk weaving exhibition, Red Cross Fair, local performances, beauty contest and local product sales.
Winter Flower Fair
When: December - January
Where: On the grounds of Phu Rua District Office, Loei

Held in Phu Rua, Loei during the cool months of December and January, Winter Flower Fair features the flower decoration and sales during this period. The opening will call on all visitors to witness the beautiful parade, shop for flowers and plants from commercial gardens and nurseries. There are also local product sales, traditional performances by students, competitions, beauty pageant, music performance, music competition and countdown event on New Year’s Eve and Buddhist alms on the New Year Day.
Isan Grand Kite Festival
When: 4 – 5 December, annually
Where: Burirum

After harvesting the crop, every village will create kites and bring them to the competition. The kites’ wings must be at least 2.5 metres wide. The winner kite is the best decorated, beautiful movement of the flight and good flying sound. There are also kite parade, beauty pageant as well as local product sales.