Paetongtarn Shinawatra, the leader of the current majority Thai government party, Pheu Thai, revealed a plan today, December 1st, 2023 as the head of Thailand’s Soft Power Development Committee to make Songkran a month long festival across Thailand from 2024.
This comes as UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation, is poised to seemingly officially announce Songkran, the Thai New Year, as an intangible cultural heritage. This is expected to become official on December 6th in Botswana and the Thai government is planning a celebration for the occasion as they have been lobbying to make the holiday official with UNESCO for years.
Once official, a celebration is planned in Bangkok to be presided over by the Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on December 7th.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Pheu Thai Party, the current Thai government majority, Paetongtarn Shinawatra, who is also the daughter of former PM and controversial figure Thaksin Shinawatra, presided over a meeting of the Thailand Soft Power Development Committee on December 1st and later announced on her social media channels HERE that she had proposed to make Songkran 2024 the largest ever and make it a month long celebration across Thailand to encourage tourists from around the world to attend and allow Thais to enjoy the festival and encourage domestic travel. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is also a member of Pheu Thai.
The plan, called World Water Festival, would move the celebrations from officially only three days to the entire month. This does not mean that the entire month of April would be a public holiday, of course, only that the country would celebrate Songkran across Thailand all month long by staggering events, water play, festivals, concerts, fireworks, and more across a thirty day schedule and all 77 provinces versus three days to encourage trips to different provinces and areas and extend the overall celebration.
TPN Media notes that Pattaya and much of the Eastern Seaboard already celebrates Wan Lai and Songkran on different days, differing by region, than the traditional official national days of April 13th-April 15th. It’s unclear if the proposal would have any change on these days or potentially cause the entire month of April to be open season for water wars in Pattaya. Although Songkran is enormously popular for many tourists and Thais, TPN media notes that many ex-pats, especially older ones, do not enjoy the water play parts of the festival and prefer traditional only celebrations.
During the Covid-19 crisis, Songkran was entirely cancelled in 2020 and limited to traditional only activities in 2021 and 2022, pleasing many ex-pat residents of Thailand. However, the festival returned in full water throwing form this year, 2023, and seems to be a lock to be even bigger in 2024, love it or hate it.
All photos credit Paetongtarn Shinawatra Facebook.