From age-old traditions to celebrating local artisans, music and food, Thailand’s kaleidoscope of festivals provides incentive travel experiences that resonate with and appeal to an audience of all interests.
As more destinations in Thailand open up at the start of 2022, we look at how the country’s long history of creating, hosting, and promoting events can help connect with your attendees by creating an environment where people want to be.
The International Dictionary of Event Management defines a festival as a “public celebration that conveys, through myriad activities, certain meanings to participants and spectators”. They are a great way to simplify an incentive travel destination itinerary because only do they have mass appeal, they can also take care of your activities and dining planning. Festivalization involves more than just adding carnival-type elements to an event. It is a more subtle adoption of the spirit of a festival that energizes an event or experience, as well as the ability to generate emotion and a sense of community among the participants.
Allying with local suppliers and partners also help boost the local economy while providing a sense of community and authenticity to the participants. It ensures the implementation and extension of a culture and style that can be absorbed and shared.
One of the most well-known traditions in Thailand, the Songkran Water Festival, takes place all over the country in April every year to celebrate the traditional Thai New Year. In Chiang Mai, the festival lasts over six days. Create team-bonding activities during the “The Largest Water Gun Fight in the World” as your colleagues let their hair down and get competitive, all while enjoying the many street processions, cultural shows and beauty pageants.
Last year, event organizers must submit their event plan and disease control measures to the district office before the event, where over 100 participants are expected.
During the winter months, the Chiang Mai Blooms Festival blossoms into a picturesque destination thanks to more than 70 farmers who transforms the land of around 80 acres. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival has been running for over 40 years and brings to light a vibrant display of ancient and modern floral art. Being the largest exporter of flowers in Thailand, the festival exemplifies the traditions of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. Economically, the festival also contributes to the city’s growth and development since it advances the horticultural sector and the tourism sector. The festival runs over three days at the start of February each year and draws thousands of visitors to Chiang Mai. Incentive travel groups can also have a chance to have dinner at one of the flower farms, a unique experience for many to remember.
In the Northeastern region of Thailand, Ubon Ratchathani hosts the Candle Festival, where elaborately carved candles are paraded throughout the city. Held in July, the event is the city’s largest event of the year. Residents and visitors of Ubon can spend two days experiencing the local way of life, appreciating the various arts and handicrafts while enjoying dance, music, and other cultural events such as Muay Thai boxing matches and theatre shows. Food lovers will rejoice at the festival’s vast array of street food and Thai snacks at various events peppered around the city. Incentive travel organizers can even arrange for visitors to get a peek at how the lavishly carved candles are made.
For something less traditional and more upbeat, the Wonderfruit Music and Arts Festival in Pattaya combines Thai, Asian and Western cultures for a three-day eco-friendly music and arts extravaganza. The event emphasizes participation and inclusion as well as sustainability and social responsibility. Musical performances, art installations and workshops such as group meditation, dance, interior design using natural materials, plant medicines, yoga, and hammock weaving are also featured. Food plays a major part in this festival, and there is no shortage of sustainably designed meals by award-winning chefs and mixologists. Wonderfruit is currently postponed to December 2022 due to travel restrictions and social distancing measures, but it is certainly a festival worth looking out for.
The Thailand Street Food Festival, typically organized at major tourist destinations in all country regions, was primarily designed to promote tourism and stimulate domestic spending among the Thai people and foreign visitors. While it’s yet to be known if this festival will be held in 2022, event organisers may emulate this for their private events and conferences by hiring street food vendors as part of their breakout, lunch or dinner sessions.
Starting January 11, 2022, vaccinated foreign tourists can enter Krabi, Phang Nga and Koh Samui in addition to Phuket under the “Sandbox” programme that will not require visitors to go through quarantine, provided they spend at least a week in these destinations.
If you’re planning to travel to Thailand, be sure to check the latest guidelines on the Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau website before planning a trip. Also, look out for TCEB’s comprehensive packages to support all MICE groups looking to plan a business event or incentive trip in Thailand.