If you’re planning a visit to Thailand in February, try to make time for one of Thailand’s most colourful events, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Chiang Mai is known colloquially as the ‘Rose of the North’ and the city more than lives up to its name during the Flower Festival with parades, street markets, music concerts, and a dazzling array of floral displays.
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a wonderful family friendly event and one that is always popular with locals as well as tourists. The festival first started in the 1970s and has grown from a small local event to one that now attracts visitors from around the world. Although the event may be a big one on the Thai festival calendar, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival has retained its own regional identity and is always well supported by the different districts in the province.
Where is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
The main event is centred around Buak Hat Park in the south-west corner of the Old Town area of Chiang Mai. This is where the floats are parked up and displayed once the street parade has finished. On the Friday evening when the festival starts, the road outside the park is closed to traffic for three days and turned into a ‘Walking Street Market’. This corner of the Old City moat is known locally as ‘Jeng Ku Hueang‘ and during the festival is home to food vendors, stages for entertainment, and stalls selling a variety of flowers and plants.
Special events are also held at various locations around Chiang Mai including the Three Kings Monument and the plaza in front of Thapae Gate which hosts music concerts and beauty contests over the festival weekend. And around Chiang Mai, floral displays are in place at the gates that mark the entrance to the walled old city.
When is the Chiang Mai Flower Festival?
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival usually commences on the first Friday in February and continues over that weekend finishing late on Sunday night. The main street parade takes place on the Saturday and features intricately decorated floral floats, vintage cars, marching bands and hundreds of participants wearing an array of colourful costumes.
Route of the main street parade
The timing and route of the parade can vary from year to year, but usually commences around 9am from Nawarat Bridge on the Ping River. The parade route normally travels along Thapae Road before heading around the moat towards Buak Hat Park. Final details of the festival schedule aren’t released until much nearer the time, but your hotel or tourist information centres in Chiang Mai will be able to advise you of the route and timings when you arrive. Once the parade is finished, the floats park up on the road outside Buak Hat Park and remain on display until late on Sunday night.
Good to know
If you’re visiting Chiang Mai, don’t miss the excellent Walking Street Markets which are held every weekend throughout the year. On Saturdays, the market sets up on Wualai Road and on Sunday along Ratchadamnoen Road in the Old City.
February is also a great month to see flowers in full bloom at a number of other locations in Chiang Mai. If you are going to Doi Suthep, allow extra time for the journey a bit further up the mountain to the gorgeous grounds at Bhuping Palace. The Queen Sirikit Botanical Gardens is another beautiful location situated outside the city. And back in Chiang Mai city centre, be sure to pay a visit to the lively and colourful flower market near Waworot Market close to the Ping River.