Thailand’s rich and colorful culture is just one of a thousand reasons to visit the country, and no trip is complete without attending at least one festival. If you’re planning a trip to Phuket, you’re in luck – as one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations, the island is famous for its full-on celebrations!
But what are the best events and festivals in Phuket in 2019? Read on for the biggest parties, cultural events, and celebrations on the island!
When? 15 – 17th April 2019
You may have already made (and broken) your New Year resolutions by April. If you’re in Phuket at this time of year, however, brace yourself for another wave of celebrations! Songkran is the Thai New Year festival that can’t and won’t be missed. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people up and down the country take to the streets to bring in the New Year – with a country-wide water fight.
And if you’re picturing a few super soakers, think again. The scale of the party varies depending on where you are, and Phuket is one of the more happening spots for Songkran. Expect to be drenched with hoses, buckets and water guns whenever you hit the streets, so plan accordingly!
Waterproof your phone, money and anything else important. Or, even better, leave them in your room and embrace the event! Mayhem will commence on April 15th and last for two water-drenched and Chang-fueled days with plenty of music, beach time and dancing mixed in. Songkran is Thailand’s most famous celebrations, and undoubtedly one of the most unmissable festivals in Phuket in 2019.
Thao Thepkasattri – Thao Sri Suntorn (Thao Thep Festival)
When? 13th March 2019
Songkran may be the most famous of Thailand’s festivals, but Thao Thepkasattri-Thao Sri Suntorn is a major event in the Phuket calendar. One of the most culturally important occasions on the island, the Thao Thep Festival commemorates the courageous actions of sisters Thao Thep Kasatri and Thao Sri Suntorn, who rallied the people of Phuket to defend their island from Burmese invaders over 200 years ago.
Their brave and selfless actions are re-enacted during the Thao Thep Festival with an open-air performance that usually runs over three days. There’s plenty more to see and do here besides, with Thai boxing ceremonies, sword-dancing and shadow puppet shows among the many attractions on offer. And, if you get hungry, you’ll find plenty of stalls selling inexpensive and always-delicious Thai cuisine.
For cultural exploration like no other, Thao Thep is one of the best festivals in Phuket in 2019!
Kathu Street Culture Festival
When? July 2019
Now entering its 11th year, the Kathu Street Culture Festival is a celebration unique to Phuket. The event is held in the Kathu district, a region with its own distinct culture that the residents are eager to share! This festival plays a key part in the preservation of the Kathu Culture and includes several exhibitions showcasing the traditional art and lifestyles of the region. Although relatively new on the Phuket Festival scene, the event attracts more and more people each year.
Learn more about the local mining industry of Kathu, witness stage performances, browse traditional local handicrafts and, of course, stuff yourself with delicious Thai food! The Kathu Culture Festival is one of the best on the island for learning about the traditional lives of Phuket’s residents. If you’re on the island during July, it’s one event in Phuket in 2019 that you won’t want to miss!
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
When? September 28th – October 7th, 2019
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival is undoubtedly the most unusual of all events and festivals in Phuket in 2019. Held over nine days in October every year, the Vegetarian Festival honors the Chinese community’s traditional abstention from meat during this period. It is believed that avoiding meat and various stimulants during the ninth lunar month of the Chinese calendar will bring health and peace to those who participate. Over the years, the event has evolved into a spectacularly colorful and downright bizarre celebration that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in town.
The festivities include a wide array of incredible (and sometimes grotesque) ceremonies. These are not for the faint of heart, and often include fire walking, body piercing and other eye-popping acts of self-mutilation. The gods are believed to protect participants from harm, but it can still make for hair-raising viewing!
The whole event has an element of danger that adventurous travelers will love, though attendees should still be careful! Firecrackers are used with wild abandon throughout the celebrations, which can cause injury; remember to stay alert, and to get your fill of delicious vegan food while you’re there. Families with small kids might also want to skip this event.
When? 1st – 3rd November 2019
Every year, Phuket kicks off the island’s ‘high season’ with a 3-day celebration at the beginning of November. The Patong Carnival is a key event in the island’s calendar and attracts more than 20,000 revelers every year, making this one of the biggest festivals in Phuket in 2019!
Patong Carnival is all about entertainment, with live music performances, sporting events, street art, competitions and elaborate parades held throughout. This colorful and vibrant celebration is the perfect place to dive into the history and culture of Thailand, snap some cool photos and indulge in a wide range of Asian cuisine.
The festivities kick off with an afternoon parade on Kai Sor Road and continue for a full three days, giving you plenty of chances to join in the fun!
Mai Khao Marine Turtle Release
When? 13th April 2019
The Mai Khao Turtle Foundation is dedicated to protecting Phuket’s endangered turtle population. Increased tourism in the area has put the lives of these magnificent sea creatures under threat, but the Mai Khao Turtle Foundation is on a mission to ensure their revival!
By rescuing eggs from surrounding beaches, the organization ensures that the baby turtles hatch in a safe environment at the Phuket Marine Biological Center. Once strong enough to fend for themselves, the hatchlings are released on Mai Khao beach, where they return to their natural habitat in the Andaman Sea.
Turtles represent longevity in Thai culture, and these incredible sea creatures are celebrated every year at the Mai Khao Marine Turtle Release. This magical event in Phuket takes place every year in April, usually during the Songkran festival. Everyone is invited to watch the rehabilitated green turtles return to their marine home, for a morning that promises to be both moving and inspirational.
The Mai Khao Turtle release is a beautiful ceremony that kids especially will adore and is one of the best family events in Phuket in 2019.
Loy Krathong Festival
When? 13th November 2019
Also known as the festival of lights, Loy Krathong is a spellbinding event that mustn’t be missed. This country-wide event is held on the evening of the 12th lunar month and involves various rituals to bring good fortune to participants.
The main event is the releasing of the krathong; small, floating lanterns loaded up with candles, joss sticks, and good intentions. Come evening time, thousands of these glowing rafts are released into lakes and oceans, while many more lanterns are sent up into the skies. The overall effect is mesmerizingly beautiful and the atmosphere one of perfect serenity. After the main event, attendees can check out the local parks for ongoing celebrations and, of course, plenty of food!
The Loy Krathong festival is one of Thailand’s most famous festivals, and among the top events to attend in Phuket in 2019. This is also one of the best family events on the island; perfect for those with kids on vacation!
Phuket King’s Cup Regatta
When? 1st – 7th December 2019
The Phuket King’s Cup Regatta is one of the most exciting events in Phuket in 2019, especially for those with a love of boats! This gathering of boatmen began in 1987 to honor the King of Thailand’s 60th birthday and was such a success that the festival has been an annual event ever since.
With 5 days of races taking place each year, this is the best place in Thailand to see such a wide array of sea-faring vessels. Although the regatta first began with a mixture of keelboats, catamarans, and even windsurfers, the races have since attracted boatmen from around the world. Today you can expect to see boating teams from around the world on their yachts, ocean cruisers, and ocean-going catamarans.
Stick around to see the Phuket King’s Cup Regatta trophy awarded to the winning team on the final day of the event, and to soak in the lively and energetic atmosphere of the regatta!
Laguna Phuket Triathlon
When? 23rd – 24th November 2019
Push yourself to the limit in paradise by taking part in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, an award-winning race that includes a 1.8km swim, 50 km bike ride and 12km run across the island. This sporty festival has been running for over 20 years now and is an outstanding success year after year.
Even if you don’t feel like participating in the races, show up and show support for those taking part while taking in the awesome energy of the event. There’s even a 2km race for junior runners; perfect if you’re traveling as a family and think your kids could do with blowing off some steam!
Phuket is famous for being one of Thailand’s most unmissable destinations. Its world-class beaches chilled out atmosphere and tropical climate are all major attractions for holidaymakers, but the island is just as well known for its parties! Whether you’re traveling alone, as a family or with friends, you’re sure to find something cool to do among the events and festivals in Phuket in 2019.