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Chiang Mai Flower Fest

Chiang Mai Flower Festival:

Chiang Mai, Thailand has been called “The Rose of the North,” and it’s especially true during the first weekend of February. One of the most popular annual festivals is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. The locals in Chiang Mai never miss this special event, and it also draws tourists from all over the country. The weather is still fairly cool and most flowers are in bloom at the end of January through the end of February, so this time of year is the most vibrant and colorful in this northern city.

When and Where:

  • The festival is usually during the first weekend in Feb each year. This year it is Feb 6-8, 2009.
  • The main site of the festival is at Suan Buak Hart City Park – located inside the southwest corner of the moat in the old city. The park has lovely walking trails and ponds, but will be decorated with thousands of flowers for this occasion.

Accommodation Tip: Stay at Tamarind Village on Ratchadamnoen Road and be within walking distance to the festival. Book in advance at their website.

What to Expect:

  • Lots of people: This festival attracts millions of tourists, and just about all the Chiang Mai locals will attend the festival as well.
  • Lots of flowers: Floral experts and enthusiasts will find this to be a haven. The festival features hundreds of exotic and temperate flowers, especially orchids.
  • Laid-back atmosphere: Unlike Songkran or Loy Krathong festivals, this is a relaxed occasion and there is not a lot of partying. It’s a great place for family get-togethers.

Highlights:

  • Flower Parade: A visitor favorite. Dozens of flower-covered floats carrying beautiful Thai women dressed in traditional outfits with flowers in their hair. The parade starts with an opening ceremony by the Chiang Mai Nawarat Bridge and proceeds to Tha Pae Gate, where most people flock to get a good view of these floats. Arrive early on Saturday morning.
  • Flower Festival Beauty Pageant: Miss Flower Bloom and Miss International Flower Bloom contests are on Friday February 6th in the evening at the Suan Buak Hart park.
  • Award-winning flowers: Don’t miss hundreds of flower displays on the Suan Buak Hart City Park grounds.

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Flower Festival Experience:

  • Bring your camera and learn the settings for vibrant colors and up-close shots of flowers
  • Wear comfortable shoes, as it’s best to walk to the festival and not bother with taxis in the crowded areas
  • Bring sunscreen or a hat because early February is still quite warm and sunny, especially in the afternoon.
  • Don’t forget bottled water
  • Learn the Thai word “suwai” which means “beautiful.” You’ll hear the word often and the locals will appreciate the compliment. Say it twice in a row for extra effect.

If you are in Chiang Mai in early February, this fabulous festival is not to be missed. For a full schedule of events for February 6-8, 2009, see the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) website.

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