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The traditional rites of Songkran involve dousing everyone around you in water as a symbol of cleansing and purification at the start of the Thai New Year. Songkran is celebrated nation-wide around Thailand with great gusto, and equally enthusiastically in the capital city, Bangkok. The fun-filled festival is held for about three days, centred on wats and temples where images of Buddha are bathed and the elderly in the community are symbolically washed by the youngsters. After the ceremonials, most people take to the baking hot streets for a merry, wet free-for-all. In Bangkok the best places to experience the festivities are on the square in front of the Grand Palace where the Phra Buddha Sihing is bathed; the Wisutkasat, where a Miss Songkran Beauty pageant is held; and Khao San Road in Banglampoo where jovial water-throwing reaches new heights in battles between locals and tourists.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
A Thai traditional ceremony that is popular with tourists and attended by the King is the annual Ploughing Ceremony, which draws many of the country's farmers to Bangkok to usher in the start of the new rice-growing season. The ceremony is held in the heart of the city and dates back more than 2,500 years. The chief event is a procession in which a red and gold sacred plough is drawn by flower-bedecked bulls, followed by drummers in green costumes, and others blowing conch shells or carrying baskets filled with rice-seed. After the ploughing and ritual feeding of the bulls, rice seed is scattered and the watching crowds rush onto the field to gather some grains for good luck, and a good harvest.
Thailand International Swan Boat Races
Racing the graceful oriental Swan Boats has become an international sport with more than 20 teams, including England, Australia and the United States, participating in the annual world championships held in November in Bangkok, on the river near the ancient capital of Siam, Ayutthaya. The elegant swan boats are long, narrow round-bottomed boats with upturned bows intricately carved that resemble swan heads, while the stern represents a flowing tail.
The Bangkok Marathon is one of the toughest races in the world due to the heat and humidity the runners have to endure. No record times here unfortunately, but it still attracts plenty of serious runners. The race is divided into three categories: the 26 mile (42.195km) marathon, the 13 mile (21.10km) half marathon and the 6.5 mile (10.55km) quarter marathon.
Silom Soi 4 Halloween
There's nothing Thais love more than a good festival, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a street party in Bangkok's trendy pedestrianised bar strip, Silom Soi 4. Many of the bars, clubs and restaurants along this strip combine themed decorations with promotions, resulting in a great night out!
Chinese New Year
Bangkok boasts one of the world's largest Chinatowns and the best way to experience its cultural legacy is take part in its annual celebration. Each new lunar year, usually starting in February, the Chinese celebrate its arrival as tens of thousands tightly pack into Chinatown shoulder to shoulder. Seas of red clad people, worn to bring luck in the new year, drift with the current of the crowd between attractions. Papier-mâché lion dances, moon cakes, firecrackers and general merriment are all part of the fun but the biggest event is a visit from a royal family member which is to the great pride of the city's Chinese. A pickpocket's paradise, tourists should be careful.