The annual Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races, celebrating the symbolic return of the Lord Buddha’s to earth at the end of Buddhist Lent or Ok Phansa, is held in the southern Thai province of Surat Thani.
Local temples become the centre of activity as communities begin preparations for the Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races months in advance. All join in decorating floral floats shaped into mythical creatures from Buddhist folklore, with the colourful floats paraded around town or launched down rivers.
The grand final parade happens on 6 October this year and is the highlight of the nine-day Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races celebration. It is a procession of the brightly decorated boats and trucks from more than 100 temples pulling the revered Buddha images along the town’s Tapi River’s bank and Naris Bridge.
On the same day, Buddhist monks mark the end of the three-month Buddhist Lent by receiving alms in a traditional Kathin ceremony. Meanwhile, the annual Surat Thani Boat Races are organised with racing teams from several provinces in southern Thailand coming to take part.
Other highlights during the Surat Thani Chak Phra Festival and Boat Races include a Phum Pha Pa contest, local handicraft fair and sale, a photo exhibition and other cultural performances related to tourism activities.