Thailand's water festival: Songkran World Water Festival

Thailand to promote the Songkran World Water Festival 2024 as a Top 10 global event

Thailand aims to promote the Songkran World Water Festival as one of the top 10 global festivals. It is particularly significant as Songkran was certified by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December 2023.

UNESCO has described Songkran as a festival that promotes community cooperation, unity and forgiveness. It is viewed as a time to symbolically wash away misfortunes, pray for prosperity for the coming year, reunite with family members, and honour ancestors and older adults.

Making a big splash this year, the Songkran World Water Festival 2024 will be held from 11-15 April in Bangkok. The highlight is on 11 April where a parade with over 20 grand processions featuring more than 1,000 performers, will be marching along the historical Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue to the Sanam Luang public square.

Throughout the five days, Sanam Luang will be the main location for the festival. Cultural and musical performances including Khon masked drama and Nora dance drama – both also recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage performing arts – as well as contemporary and orchestra performances will be taking place at the main stage.

Anntonia Porsild Miss Thailand

Antonia Porsild, Miss Universe 2023 first runner-up from Thailand, has been appointed as the Songkran goddess of 2024 and will be taking part in the festival.  A calendar of Songkran 2024 celebrations in different locations nationwide will also be organised. In addition, Songkran songs in Thai, English, Chinese, and French have been composed to enhance the awareness of the festival’s cultural heritage to a global audience.

Songkran traditions and festivities unique to the Northern, Northeastern, Eastern, Central and Southern regions of Thailand will be on display at a dedicated zone at the Sanam Luang public square. DIY workshops of local arts and handicraft from the five regions will be showcased including Muay Thai and Thai summer dishes.

Songkran Water Festival 2024 performances

Amazing splash activities will be at the water zone with 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.

Besides Bangkok, the Songkran celebrations will also be held in five other locations, namely Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Samut Prakan, Chon Buri, and Phuket, to help promote Thailand’s rich culture and traditions to gain global recognition with spectacular Songkran parades and celebrations.

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.

Songkran Festival, Buddha washing

Recognising the importance of organising an environmentally sustainable event, a plastic waste management programme will be organised. Visitors are encouraged to discard waste plastic bottles at any of the 20 Drop-off 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.

Economic benefits

The Tourist Authority of Thailand expects the Songkran World Water Festival 2024 will inspire more travel and tourism activities during April 12-16, resulting in 24 billion baht (US$680 million) in overall tourism revenue, an increase of 18 percent when compared to the same period in 2023.

This constitutes 8.76 billion Baht (US$240 million) from international tourism with 510,000 visitor arrivals and 15.66 billion Baht (US$430 million) from 4.3 million domestic trips. Songkran celebrations in Bangkok are expected to generate 3.7 billion Baht (US$100 million) in revenue and attract over 653,000 domestic trips.

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