While the water splashing will flourish, the traditional values of Songkran are the focus of the 2009 celebrations.
Songkran is without doubt the most popular of all Thai festivals and rightly so.
It marks the beginning of a new astrological year and its exact dates are determined by the old lunar calendar of Siam.
This year the three-day festival falls on 13 – 15 April 2009.
There are other opportunities to join in Songkran festivities regardless of where you are travelling.
In the North:
Chiang Saen Water Festival runs from 13 to 21 April, in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai province. In the Golden Triangle area, where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, a ceremony, during the day, will pay homage to the town’s Buddha image. In the evening, the visitors can join a Lanna-style dinner, known as Khan Tok, or shop for handicrafts on a street closed to traffic, also the venue for folk dance performances.
Si Satchanalai Water Festival, from 13 to 15 April, at Si Satchanalai district, Sukhothai province, features parades and water splashing in the Si Satchanalai Historical Park. The town is 67 km north of Sukhothai and is a popular stop on Around North Thailand tours.
Thai-Lao Water Festival, from 13 to 17 April, plays out on the banks of the Mekong River in Nong Khai town that faces Laos and its capital, Vientiane. Sports competitions will be organized in the week preceding the festival.
Koon Flower and Sticky Rice Road and Water Festival in Khon Kaen province, features parades, performances and water splashing on Si Chan Road, known as sticky rice road for its profusion of vendors selling this staple northeast food.
Ubon Ratchathani Water Festival, in the city centre, will feature a Thai-Indochina Food Festival at Thung Si Mueang Park, which will sell specialty dishes and food items representative of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.
Nakhon Phanom Water Festival has an unusual theme of noodles. The main event will be held on Sinthorn Vichit Road or Khao Pun Road (rice flour noodle road) where booths will sell products and dishes made of rice flour noodles, the specialty of this province.
Bangkok Water Festival gets underway,12 April, with a sound and light show at Arun Ratchawararam Temple, from 1800 to 2100. This year, the city will focus on a traditional style Songkran Festival by supporting and inviting people to make merit at temples and return to their villages up-country to be with their families. Water splashing on streets in the business district will be discouraged.
However, the city is promoting its “Passport to nine royal temples” for those who visit temples during the festival, with an incentive to win prizes. Water splashing will be encouraged only in specific areas such as Khao Sarn Road.
Phrapadaeng Water Festival, which follows different dates than most of the celebrations, will be hosted, 18 to 20 April, in front of Phrapradaeng district office, Samut Prakarn province. There will be parades, Thai-Mon traditional sports and performances.
Bangsaen Water Festival, 16 to 17 April, is held a week after national celebrations at Bangsaen beach in Chonburi province. A competition to determine the most artistic sand pagoda takes centre stage with more than 100 miniature pagodas sculptured from the sand.
Pattaya Water Festival follows on from Bangsaen, 17 to 20 April. The water splashing celebration first moves to Na-Klua, a village just north of Pattaya, 18 April, Pattaya beach, 19 April and finally moving, 20 April, to Sattahip, a fishing and Naval town on the eastern seaboard.
Ranong Mineral Water Festival runs from 12 to 15 April, at Raksawarin Public Park in the centre of Ranong town, located on the Andaman Sea coast, some 300 km north of Phuket.
Here, people will enjoy the luxury of splashing mineral water on one another following the style witnessed in Myanmar’s traditional festivities. Also, during the four days, there will be booths selling tourism products and packages to Ranong province and other Andaman coast destinations.
Hat Yai Midnight Songkran, will be hosted 12 to 14 April, at Nipat Uthit Road in Hat Yai district, Songkhla province. The water splashing will start from 22:00, 12 April to midnight on 13 April. Ceremonies to sprinkle water on the town’s Buddha images will be conducted on the mornings of 13 and 14 April.