Thai Travel : Pictures of the Annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Chiang Mai Locals in Lanna Costume
Travel in Thailand
Annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai
One of the highlights of the year in Chiang Mai is the annual Flower Festival held in the all too brief cool season. It’s a fragrant and colorful affair where locals come together to parade magnificent flower studded floats as well as an incredible variety of decorative plants for which prizes are awarded. The festival began in 1977, and as well as bringing in locals from around the province, it also attracts a good deal of interest from international visitors.
Chiang Mai, affectionately dubbed the ‘Rose of the North’, prides itself on the natural beauty that it possesses as well as its slow paced lifestyle and friendly hospitality. This is evident when ambling along the historical moat road with local residents in unhurried appreciation of the spectacle - floats covered in a rich mosaic of flowers intricately arranged in harmony with the chosen theme, ranging from an eco-tourism message to a tribute to the King of Thailand. The parade of floats ends with a beauty pageant in Suan Buak Hart Park, where the Queen of the Flower Festival is chosen.
The flower festival is a great opportunity to get a feel for the unique culture of Chiang Mai, originating from the days of the Lanna Kingdom with its own rule, language, dress and customs. Women wearing traditional Lanna dress, Lanna food and music are all on display. Local handicrafts are also featured and are available to buy. The diverse hill tribe cultures of Northern Thailand are also seen in their unique traditional dress, and include the Hmong, Lisu, Akha and Karen ethnic groups.
Admiring the prize winning roses, bonsai and orchids is one of my favorite ways to spend time at the festival. Many of the 3,000 or so varieties of Thai orchids are present, some of which have amazingly long aerial root systems.
The festival is held in February and this is arguably the best time of year to visit Chiang Mai. Cool mornings and evenings, warm sunny days, clear blue skies, and especially buoyant spirits combined with the beauty of the Flower Festival make it a special time of the year. Thailand has appeared in international media in a negative light in recent times - political protests in Bangkok coupled with the recession has reduced the number of visitors to Chiang Mai considerably and local businesses are feeling the pinch. The truth is though that Chiang Mai remains an untroubled place and is a very safe and cheap tourist destination with a lot to offer.