Surin Elephant Festival
The Surin Elephant Festival
The Surin Elephant Festival is an annual event in the Kingdom of Thailand. The origins are lost in time but probably originated from a couple of mahouts bragging as to who had the better elephant and so they competed. Such an activity in the Surin area in Isaan province of Northern Thailand, where elephants are commonly used in forests and agriculture would naturally have provoked the interest of others.
This small and originally private competition grew until it was eventually recognised as a National event and has been held every year since 1962.
In 2010 the Surin Elephant Festival is scheduled to take place on 20-21 November.
State Flag of Thailand 1916
From Small to Big
Today the Surin Elephant Festival is composed of a series of events. One of these is the Surin Elephant Roundup and some people know the festival by this name.
There is much more however. Now there is elephant football, tug-of-war, capture and training demonstrations, dancing, racing, elephant painting. In fact there is everything to show the skills of these remarkable and wonderous creatures. Rarely does one get the opportunity to see as many as 200-300 elephants together in one place.
Today the Surin Elephant Festival is extremely important to the people of the Surin area as it attracts tourists from all over the world. In fact over 80% of the tickets sold are to people from outside Thailand. It remains however very popular with Thai people both young and old who have a historic love and respect for the elephant.
Elephants were formally a beast of war and played an important part in the protection of Thailand in ancient times. The elephant, until fairly recently was represented on the flag of Thailand. There is an interesting museum dedicated to the Royal Thailand Elephants in Bangkok.
Surin Elephant Festival 2009
The best way to get to Surin is to approach a tour operator in Bangkok. They can arrange your getting there by plane, coach or train as well as obtaining tickets for the festival and arranging hotel accommodation.
It is possible to go it alone and it makes it more of an adventure. Use 'Lonely Planet' or the 'Rough Guide' to help you.