Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2019: An Explosion of Colors

 

Chiang Mai has many events and festivals all year round, but only three really stand out. Of course, the festival of lights (Loy Krathong) and Thai New Year (Songkran) and the third is Chiang Mai's very own Flower Festival. People from all over the world travel to Chiang Mai near the end of the cold season to experience the natural beauty and creations. If you are considering coming to Chiang Mai during the winter months, the Flower Festival is a great excuse for a visit.

This year, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival takes place from 1-3 February (Friday to Sunday) 2019.

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The Flower Festival Grounds at Suan Buak Haad Public Park

The main location of the 2019 Flower Festival's exhibition is Suan Buak Haad Public Park (also Nong Buak Haad). It is easy to find at the southwest corner of the old city, on the inside of the moat. Normally you will find it to be a lovely little park with paths and a bridge crossing a pond, that during the festival is transformed. It changes into a tapestry of floral and agricultural beauty, a true explosion of color combinations that features both traditional and experimental arrangements and decors. February is the end of the cool season and a blooming period for many of the local breeds, including many locally grown kinds of orchids. So, it’s not just at the festival grounds that you will experience the festival; many residents and shopkeepers in the city join in by putting flower displays in front of their houses and stores.

During the festival, judges visit all the displays and ultimately pick winners in all the different categories. Meanwhile the street next to the park is closed off and vendors sell flower, plants, seeds and flower bulbs.

The park is open from 9am to midnight throughout the three days of the festival.

The Chiang Mai Flower Festival Parade

The main event of the festival is its street parade. The parade takes place on Saturday the 2nd of February 2019 and starts off around 9am in the morning. But don't worry, it is quite a slow procession, with the parade regularly pausing. So make sure you get a good spot around 10am at the city moat and you will see it all. The parade consists of around 25 beautifully decorated with thousands of flowers, petals and plants. These are alternated with a wide variety of marching bands, traditional dancers and performers including schoolchildren. Many of the floats feature Buddhist and typical Chiang Mai themes. You will for example not be able to miss the most fantastically colorful elephant idols you have ever seen. All the floats compete in their own yearly competition.

The Parade Route

At the start, the flower float parade lines up on Charoen Muang Road, from the railway station all the way to Nawarat Bridge. After it starts, the parade then moves over the bridge towards the old city, up Tha Phae Road. When it reaches the ancient city wall at Tha Phae Gate, it turns left along the moat. The parade then follows the road all the way to the festival grounds at Suan Buak Haad Public Park. So if you happen to miss the parade, you can still go and admire the floats there after.

The Prize Ceremony and Queen of the Festival Contest

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As with Songkran and Loy Krathong, the Flower Festival features a grand stage show, which starts soon after the street parade concludes at Suan Buak Haad. The show has many elements to it. An important part is the prize ceremony, where the judges give their verdicts on the flower show contributions and the parade floats. It also features a theatrical part that tells traditional Buddhist stories. Though much of the show is in Thai, there are also introductions in English.

Then there is the contest for Queen of the Chiang Mai Flower Festival 2019. Most of the contestants were already showing their beauty seated or standing on the floats during the street parade. During a theatrical stage show that includes music performances, the contestants show off their own traditional (dancing) skills and beauty, competing for the much-coveted title. 

The contest and the party that follows goes on until late. There are plenty of refreshments and foods to be found in and around the festival grounds and market, so be sure to join in the merriment! In sum, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is this wonderful city putting its best foot forward, trying to impress everyone coming to watch with its traditional skills and beauty. Every year again, Chiang Mai earns its well-deserved name of 'Rose of the North'.

If you plan to visit Chiang Mai during the Flower Festival, be mindful that it is a very busy period. Make sure you book your hotel or guesthouse and your tours in time, to avoid disappointment! 

(We will post the official program of the Chiang Mai Flower Festival here when it comes available.)