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Bangkok gears up for “Maha Songkran” water festival extravaganza

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Thailand pushes Songkran to become a global event with cultural parades, water games, and sustainability initiatives.

BANGKOK, THAILAND – The Ministry of Tourism and Sports, together with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Interior, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), officially announced that the “Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024” extravaganza will take place from 11-15 April in Bangkok, along the Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue and at Sanam Luang.

The event is set to illustrate the rich culture and tradition of Thai soft power with spectacular Songkran parades and celebrations.

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Culture Minister, Mr. Sermsak Pongpanit, said: “The Ministry of Culture is proud to support the staging of Songkran celebrations in Bangkok, and five other unique locations, namely Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Samut Prakan, Chon Buri, and Phuket, to celebrate its UNESCO ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ status and to help promote Thai soft power to a global recognition.”

The Department of Cultural Promotion, Ministry of Culture has appointed Miss Antonia Porsild, Miss Universe 2023 first runner-up, as Mahodhara Devi, the Nang Songkran goddess of 2024.  It is also launching a calendar of Songkran 2024 celebrations in different locations nationwide. In addition, it has composed the Songkran songs in Thai, English, Chinese, and French to enhance the awareness of the festival’s cultural heritage.

Tourism and Sports Minister, Ms. Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol, said “The government places festivals at the core of its Thai soft power promotion with an aim to push Songkran to become one of the top 10 global festivals. The ‘Maha Songkran Parade’ with over 20 grand processions featuring more than 1,000 performers that will be marching along the Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue to Sanam Luang, where the rich culture and tradition of Thai soft power will be illustrated will surely create an ever-lasting memory for visitors from all over the world, thus making Songkran a major fixture in the global event calendar.”

TAT Governor, Ms. Thapanee Kiatphaibool, said “The Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 extravaganza will showcase Thai traditions and cultural values to the world. The event will be broadcast globally via CNN, BBC and iQIYI. International celebrities and influencers will be invited to experience Songkran in Thailand and ultimately inspire their fans and followers to embark on a journey to create and share their own “Amazing Thailand: Your Stories Never End.”

Deputy Minister of Interior, Mr. Kriang Kantinan, said “The government has instructed authorities to strictly enforce the rules and regulations with measures and guidelines in place to ensure prompt responses to any accidents, crime and threats to the life and property of tourists. We also ask Thais to be a good host and help ensure the good image of Thailand and boost tourist confidence in our safety and security measures.”

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The Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024 will be held from 11-15 April along Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue and at Sanam Luang in Bangkok.

The highlight is the ‘Maha Songkran Parade’ on 11 April, starting from the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge and concluding at Sanam Luang, featuring 20 grand processions and more than 1,000 performers.

Leading the parade will be the processions of maha Songkran, followed by distinctive Songkran traditions of 16 provinces. These include Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, and Nakhon Si Thammarat whose unique traditions Thailand is preparing to enlist as ‘Intellectual Property Festivals’; five other model provinces – Chiang Rai, Nong Khai, Phitsanulok, Songkhla and Buri Ram; and six other provinces where local Songkran traditions will be further promoted – Ayutthaya, Nakhon Phanom, Lampang, Loei, Sukhothai and Phuket. Other grand processions include ‘Soft Power’ which features Fashion, Games, Films and Series, and Festivals.

Throughout five days, Sanam Luang will be the main location for the Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024. Cultural and musical performances including Khon masked drama and Nora dance drama – both recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage performing arts – as well as contemporary and orchestra performances will be taking place at the main stage.

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Songkran traditions and festivities unique to the Northern, Northeastern, Eastern, Central and Southern regions of Thailand will be on display at a dedicated zone. In relation to this are activities and showcases as well as DIY workshops of local arts and handicrafts from the five regions.

There will also be displays and activities related to Thai soft power including Muay Thai Maha Songkran and Thai summer dishes.

Amazing splash activities will be at the water zone with a musical dancing fountain, water tunnel, gigantic wading pool, and water station.

Other activities include a drone show and a fair selling local products from across the country.

On 13 April, the traditional Thai New Year, there will be a merit-making ceremony and other activities promoting Thai traditions, including the Song Nam Phra ritual of purifying a Buddha image with scented water as a way of paying respect to the Lord Buddha and bringing good fortune to the person and the Rot Nam Dam Hua ritual – where young people prepare scented water with which to wash their parents’ or elders’ hands to ask for blessing.

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Recognizing the importance of organizing an environmentally sustainable event, TAT, in partnership with PTT Global Chemical, organizes a GCYOU Turn activity for plastic waste management. Visitors are encouraged to discard waste plastic bottles at any of the 20 ‘YOU Turn Drop Points’ for a souvenir or join in DIY upcycling activities such as turning plastic bottle caps into a keychain, bracelet, necklace or bottle opener, or buy upcycling products such as floral printed shirts made of plastic waste.

TAT expects the “Maha Songkran World Water Festival 2024” will inspire more travel and tourism activities from 12-16 April, resulting in 24.42 billion Bath in overall tourism revenue, an increase of 18% when compared to the same period in 2023.

This constitutes 8.76 billion Baht from international tourism and 15.66 billion Baht from domestic tourism with 510,000 visitor arrivals and 4.29 million domestic trips. Songkran celebrations in Bangkok are expected to generate 3.69 billion Baht in revenue and attract 653,590 domestic trips.

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