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It’s Time To Get Wet at Thailand's Songkran Festival!

Updated: Apr 30

✦ Put on your swimmers and grab your water pistols as Songkran is here!

New Year is always a special occasion – out with the old, in with the new, new resolutions and a fresh start ahead, and so on. While most Aussies will associate the occasion with fireworks and the popping of champagne corks, in Thailand things are a little different – and a whole lot wetter!

The New Year period in Thailand takes place between April 13-15 each year and is known as Songkran, a word derived from the Sanskrit language that literally means ‘to move’ or ‘movement’ in relation to the zodiac calendar. The Songkran Festival is a time to celebrate culture, heritage, and new beginnings in the Land of Smiles and water plays a big, big role in proceedings.

Songkran Festival Photo: Wix | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
Children know best how to have fun with water at the Songkran Festival!

Water, water everywhere

Coming shortly after the intense heat of a Thai summer, Songkran is a time when the country moves into its rainy period. It therefore comes as no great surprise to learn that water is a key component; symbolic of the imminent rains, it is also used to represent cleansing, reverence, and good fortune. The pouring of water is an act of special significance from a religious perspective during this time, typically done to bathe important statues and images of Buddha, while elder family members are also playfully splashed with water to encourage good health and long life. 

While the traditional dynamic of water in this respect maintains its significance, over recent decades it has evolved to adopt a broader guise. In fact, water play and splashing have become extremely popular over the years and today are arguably the most identifiable aspects of the occasion. During the Songkran Festival, you will see people taking to the streets throughout the length and breadth of the country to splash and engage in playful water fights – water pistols and shooters are literally everywhere, as are buckets and containers, constantly filled to the brim to enable the splashing of friends, neighbours, and tourists. Seeing pick-up trucks and similar vehicles driving around local neighbourhoods loaded with water tanks and spraying water at all and sundry is a common sight. Getting drenched is what it is all about!

Songkran Festival Photo: Canva | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online

Attracting global interest

The popularity of the water play has seen the annual festival attract global interest, with many people specifically visiting during the period to indulge in the fun and games. In busy, popular cities such as the capital Bangkok, and the tourist mecca Phuket, main roads will be entirely closed during the period and a wide variety of live performances, parades, and shows will be organised to showcase the country’s rich culture and history. In 2023 UNESCO added Songkran to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

This year’s festivities come at a rather sensitive time as the threat of water shortages throughout the country looms – certain parts of the country, such as Phuket, have not seen rainfall of any significance for over five months, depleting reservoirs and reserves leaving local residents nervous that supplies may be cut off. While one netizen took to social media to jokingly suggest it might be time to consider showering with a friend, in all seriousness the situation is precarious.

Songkran Festival Photo: Canva | Brilliant Online Australia Singapore UK | Brilliant Online
Prepare to get VERY wet and have a blast of a time!

How to enjoy Songkran

Still, the fun will proceed regardless as gallons upon gallons of H2O are spilled, splashed, shot, and thrown throughout the holiday period. Having experienced many Songkrans myself personally, I can state categorically that it is fantastic fun and impossible not to enjoy! Leave any valuable belongings at home, don your swimmers and goggles with an open mind, and be prepared to get VERY wet and you will no doubt have a blast of a time! It seems rare these days that an eclectic group of people can convene via a cultural occasion and experience so much fun through such an innocent act as water play, although it is one that is both welcome and unique and should be on everyone’s bucket list.


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