Phi Ta Khon Festival (The Ghost Festival) 2011

Phi Ta Khon Festival

Phi Ta Khon Festival

The Phi Ta Khon Festival (the Ghost Festival) is the most common name for a group of festivals held in the Dan Sai district of the Loei province in rural Thailand. The events take place over three days this July 1st through July 3rd.

The Phi Ta Khon Festival is called Boon Luang; Boon Luang is composed of a number of individual festivals which include Phi Ta Khon, the Ghost Festival; the Rocket Festival; and Bun Pra Wate, a merit-making ceremony.

Also known as the Thailand Ghost Festival, the Phi Ta Khon Festival is a much anticipated and highly regarded event in Thailand. Revelers and participants will don ghost masks and costumes made of bamboo and wicker and walk through town in the annual ghost parade which is more to the point a rain making ceremony that ushers in the beginning of rainy season.

The Phi Ta Khon Festival is a well attended event that brings together making merit, having a party, and reenacting the folklore of the reincarnation of King Vessandorn, the Buddha to be. Buddhist legend has it that the townspeople were angry that the charitable King gave away two precious white elephants to another King who asked for them. They then forcibly exiled him into the forest. The angels and spirits in the forest admired his unconditional generosity so they formed a procession to escort him back to rule the town. The townspeople became overjoyed with his epiphany and so the legend was born and has since given way to the annual Phi Ta KhonFestival.

Phi Ta Khon Festival ( Ghost Festival )

Phi Ta Khon Festival ( Ghost Festival ) Phi Ta Khon Festival ( Ghost Festival ) Phi Ta Khon Festival ( Ghost Festival )

Photo Courtesy Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Phi Ta Khon Festival will run for three days and the first day will be the masked procession of ghosts. The celebrants will put on fancy ghost masks and costumes which are handmade from colorfully painted bamboo rice steamers and decorated with colorful strips of cloth sewn together. The most common appearance of Phi Ta Khon Festival ghosts is the over sized head and long hooked nose, though you can also see many versions of the ghosts with long teeth or white face. Along the road, you can get spooked and teased by these playful ghosts and you’ll readily find yourself becoming a part of the joyful spirit.

On the second day of the Phi Ta Khon Festival the villagers form up another procession that dances along the streets into a temple and then firing off homemade bamboo rockets to incite the gods to give rain and a bountiful harvest. In some areas there will be competitions for the best mask, costumes and dancing with the winners of each contest receiving a coveted brass plaque.

On the last day of the Phi Ta Khon Festival, the villagers will meet up at a local temple to listen and recite the sacred thirteen sermons of Buddha, chanted by local monks. To mark the end of the event, the ghosts then take off their masks and costumes and shelve them for the next year’s celebration.

Phi Ta Khon Festival 2011 Schedule of Events

Phi Ta Khon Festival 2011 Schedule

A Clean Food Festival – Good Taste Food Festival will be held at the evening market from 19.00 onwards starting on June 30th and running throughout the entire Phi Ta Khon Festival.

For more information on the Phi Ta Khon Festival you can contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand in the following ways:

Tourism Authority of Thailand, Loei Office

Tel: +66 (0) 4281 2812

Fax: +66 (0) 4281 1480

E-mail: tatloei@tat.or.th

For more information on upcoming Thailand Events and Festivals like the Phi Ta Khon Festival please refer to the Thailand Events Calender.

 

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16 Responses to Phi Ta Khon Festival (The Ghost Festival) 2011
  1. Snap
    May 23, 2011 | 7:43 pm

    I sooooo want to go to the Phi Ta Khon Festival…at the very least, I want one of those masks for my wall! Stray and I rode through the Dan Sai district last year on our way to Laos, the totems by the road sides sporting those masks, are quite impressive!
    Snap recently posted..Durian – the thorny truthMy Profile

  2. Catherine
    May 23, 2011 | 8:42 pm

    Darn. I’d LOVE to go to the Ghost Festival too but Loei is way too far away from BKK. And as for those masks… I have a boring wall they’d look totally smashing on. Next year?
    Catherine recently posted..HouseTalk- Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and MoreMy Profile

  3. Talen
    May 23, 2011 | 8:52 pm

    Hmm, sounds like a road trip is in order.

    Cat, no excuses… no place in Thailand is too far and it’s only a weekend…and, with one of those masks I am thinking you would be so dynamic :P

    Snap, little help here :)

  4. Snap
    May 23, 2011 | 9:11 pm

    You hold her and I’ll put the bag over her head. phuut len kha! Catherine, did you know Nok Air has direct flights from BKK? And, I know a great boutique hotel there :) :) :)

    All I know is, that I won’t be going by scooter this time!
    Snap recently posted..Durian – the thorny truthMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 23, 2011 | 9:17 pm

      Snap, Mai puut len…Cat is a fighter the bag will be a necessity unless we can get her attention …she’s fascinated by penis statues …they seem to mesmerize her :P

      • Snap
        May 23, 2011 | 9:28 pm

        Talen, I empathise with Catherine’s fixation! Having had to endure a conversation the other day, with a guy in speedos/budgie smugglers/dick togs (which by the way, should be banned), it’s a case of trying NOT to look…talk about staring intensely into someone’s eyes ;)
        Snap recently posted..Durian – the thorny truthMy Profile

        • Talen
          May 23, 2011 | 10:30 pm

          Snap, and by eyes you mean package? :P

          • Snap
            May 24, 2011 | 10:04 am

            No, by eyes, I mean eyes! Had he been a statue, it may have been a different story.
            Snap recently posted..Durian – the thorny truthMy Profile

  5. Catherine
    May 23, 2011 | 9:33 pm

    Well, let’s just say that during that time I won’t be within 5000 miles of any Thai penis statues ;-)
    Catherine recently posted..HouseTalk- Kinship Terms for Thai Housekeepers and MoreMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 23, 2011 | 10:31 pm

      Cat, I don’t believe you. I saw more wooden and stone penis with you in one day then I have seen my entire life…and I have one!

  6. Martyn
    May 25, 2011 | 3:03 am

    Talen a big well done for promoting an area of Thailand which slips under most tourists radar. I have visited Loei and Dan Sai three times before but never during the Phi Ta Khon Festival although I hope to put that right one day.

    Dan Sai is in a lovely mountainous region and is only a few clicks from Phu Rua where they hold an annual New Year flower show. Phi Ta Khon masks and souvenirs are very visible in the area and I do have an earthen beer mug at the village house in the shape of one of the masks.

    Nice post and a good promotion for Loei.
    Martyn recently posted..The Eighth Wonder of the World on VideoMy Profile

    • Talen
      May 26, 2011 | 7:00 pm

      Martyn, I think there is a lot more going on that is interesting and fun in the rural areas. The festivals are more traditional and more fun to be had. I’d love to go to all of them for sure.

  7. Lani
    May 25, 2011 | 2:48 pm

    I want to go!!!!!!!! Let’s all go together! Where is Loei? I suppose I should google it. . .Ah there it is. NE Thailand.

    Reminds me of Mexico’s Day of the Dead or Japan’s version – the name escapes me at the moment.

    Thailand is so diverse!!!!!!!!!
    Lani recently posted..jacky at the cat house!My Profile

    • Talen
      May 26, 2011 | 6:59 pm

      Lani, I think I am going…too much fun to pass up me thinks.

  8. Tim in Phuket
    June 26, 2011 | 1:58 pm

    Looks like another fascinating festival – Thailand has so much to share.
    Tim in Phuket recently posted..Phuket Indy MarketMy Profile

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