Songkran, or the Thai New Year, is a celebration to welcome the coming of spring in mid-April and wash away the bad luck from the previous year. Visitors to Thailand enjoy the festivities as people visit the temple to make merit, honor the elders in their family, and flood the streets for festivals including food and the world-famous water splashing fun.
Songkran Celebrations Abroad
Not everybody can go all the way to Southeast Asia to participate in the celebration, but there are plenty of Thai communities abroad where you can join and learn more about this important holiday for Thai people. This year, Songkran runs from April 12th-16th, 2019 and most celebrations will land on Saturday, April 13th. Let’s take a look at a few Songkran festivals being held in the United States that will transport you to Thailand for a few hours without going through the long-haul flight.
New York City
On Wednesday April 10th, the Thai Student Club at Columbia University hosts an official Songkran celebration in at Lerner Hall on campus in New York City. Co-hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Royal Thai Consulate General in NYC, the annual festival features classical music performances, cultural shows, games, prizes, and a chance to taste authentic Thai cuisine. Lucky attendees of the Thai Carnival 2019 even have a chance to “Win a Trip” that takes them from the bright lights of Bangkok to the white sand beaches of Thailand’s most beautiful islands.
A bit further East on consecutive Saturdays in
Queens, New York you can join the Songkran
Organized by the Royal Thai Consulate General NY, the NYC Thai community, and
Tourism Authority of Thailand this is a chance for New Yorkers and the Thai
immigrant community to show up the 20th and 27th of 2019
on Woodside Avenue between 75th-77th St to enjoy good company and good Thai
In the capital city of Washington D.C. everyone is welcome to join the Thai temple of Washington DC (across from Barrie School) on Sunday April 14, 2019 as they celebrate Songkran Festival with the community. Newcomers will enjoy Thai cultural shows, Thai souvenirs, and a showcase of vibrant Thai food for everyone to try.
In Miami, Florida starting on Sunday April 21st come and observe the Songkran Festival by listening to the chanting of the monks as they teach about the 8 precepts of Buddhism. For non-Buddhists there will be food, tropical fruits for snacking, traditional clothing and jewelry on sale, and a range of live music and dance performances. The Royal Thai Embassy will be on hand to assist Thai nationals with their e-passport renewals as well.
Immigrants from Thailand join Hmong and Lao neighbors on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota to throw a block party celebrating the Thai New Year. Amazing Thailand and the Thai Cultural Council of MN present Songkran Uptown, a family friendly street festival that features music, dance, and food typically enjoyed by Thai, Hmong, and Lao families.
Another Midwestern city with a large Thai expat community is Florissant, Missouri. This year on Sunday, April 21st , the local Thai temple Wat Phrasri Rattanaram will hold the 2019 Songkran New Year Festival highlighting Muay Thai boxing, classical Thai dance, Thai food and desserts, a Miss Songkran Pageant, and much more. The event is organized by the Thai Association of Greater Saint Louis and the Thai-American community in St. Louis.
Songkran in Thai Town Los Angeles: It might just be one of the biggest Songkran celebrations you can find outside of The Land of Smiles!
If you’re in Los Angeles, join the one-mile stretch of celebration along Hollywood Boulevard: Songkran in Thai town will be celebrated on April 28 from 8am-8pm! Not only is it one of the biggest annual festivals in Los Angeles, it’s also one of the most fun!
Build Sand Pagodas and participate in the traditional festivities of Songkran at Wat Thai Los Angeles April: 13-14, 9am-6pm. Dance, food, and offerings to the temple monks are just some of the events here — it’ll be hard to believe that you’re not in Thailand for a little while!
Thai Temple in Escondido, CA: Wat Buddhajakramongkolratanaram, April 14, 9am -6pm. Alongside traditional performances and commemoration, this Songkran event will share a performance by skilled players of the Thai Violin!
Wat Buddhanusorn: Fremont, CA, April 13-14, 10am – 2:30pm will host a day beginning with community members making offerings in the Main Buddha Hall (Sanghadana,) followed by the monks walking on a ceremonial alms round in the central courtyard of the temple. The event will even host a traditional bird and fish release ceremony! Students of Wat Buddhanusorn Sunday School will explore Thai culture with classical dance and music performances, as well as the traditional “watering” of Buddha images, monks, and elders as a way to show respect, gratitude and receive blessings.
You’ll find and entirely new chance to participate in the festivities of Songkran as far South as Texas, at the Buddhist Center of Dallas Texas: April 14, 9am- 3pm. You’ll find that the classical music and dance, water blessings, and other events flourish here just as well as they do in Thailand.
Tips to Celebrate Songkran
Dress appropriately. Though the Songkran festival isn’t strictly religious, most celebrations in Thailand and abroad are hosted by the local temple. This means that modesty is appreciated on temple grounds and polite behavior is observed around the elderly and monks.
Splash Around! Don’t forget to take part in the cleansing ritual of water splashing. It’s a lot of fun and it is a symbolic way to wash away the bad luck from the previous year. Plus, everyone can appreciate some cool water on a hot day!
Sample the flavors. As if you need a reminder. Chicken Satay, Mango Sticky Rice, Basil Stir Fry, Shrimp Pad Thai, Fragrant Jasmine Rice, Sweet Coconut Desserts, and more, just to name a few. Take this opportunity to try something new and support your local food vendors at the same time!
Songkran festivals across the country are a perfect way to learn more about the cultures of Southeast Asia, meet your local Thai consulate workers, see traditional Thai dance performances live, and get a feel for what a visit to Thailand might be like. If you have (or haven’t) considered a trip to Thailand, why not attend your nearest Songkran Festival, wash off the bad luck of the past year, and let your excitement and appreciation for Thailand lift off!