Boon Bang Fai 2021

Northeast, Thailand
01 May 2021

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Boon Bang Fai 2021

Thailand’s Fascinating Rocket Festival

The Boon Bang Fai festival is a colourful and vibrant traditional celebration held in honour of Phaya Thaen, the god of rain. The three-day rocket festival is held anywhere between May and June in northeast Thailand.

The word Boon Bang Fai translates into a “fiery tube” in English and is an apt description of the gunpowder fuelled bamboo rockets that soar high into the sky on the third day of the festival. The first celebration of the Boon Bang Fai festival dates back centuries ago. 

Typically held just before the annual monsoon season, the festival is believed to be part of a Buddhist fertility ritual celebrated to remind Phaya Thaen of his promise to send down the rains every year before each farming season.

It is largely believed that the festival will precede abundant rainfall for the next rice planting season. Likewise, the festive period also serves as a holiday for the locals before the rigours and hard work of the next planting season begins.

Boon Bang Fai is usually held on weekends, where celebrations climax on Sunday, with spectacular rocket launches, accompanied by widespread partying, music, and street parades in between.

The first day of the event, called Wan Sook Dib, which means Raw Friday, is marked by wild and joyous performances called Mor Lam Sing, dedicated to exalting fertility. The activities of the first day can get raunchy as symbols of giant phalluses, vulgar songs, cross-dressing and flirty teasing of strangers and friends are all enshrined into the fun, dancing, and music.

The first day of the event, called Wan Sook Dib, which means Raw Friday, is marked by wild and joyous performances called Mor Lam Sing, dedicated to exalting fertility. The activities of the first day can get raunchy as symbols of giant phalluses, vulgar songs, cross-dressing and flirty teasing of strangers and friends are all enshrined into the fun, dancing, and music.

The partying, garish street parades and buoyant festivities trickle into the second day of the festival where people march in a vibrant procession across the streets. These performances are eventually succeeded by a Buddhist-merry making ceremony, where locals pay homage to the gods at the city pillar shrine.

On the third day of the festival, people work in different groups to create and design rockets. These amazingly decorated homemade bamboo rockets can stretch as long as 7 meters with a 12-meter tail that can store up to 120kg of gunpowder. The competition is also held for the highest-launching and finest rocket on show for the day. Groups with the best rockets win prizes as part of the fun.

The Elegant Boon Bang Fai festival also includes themed floats and an exuberant display of traditional music, dancing, costumes, and local delicacies. If you love a proper and grand cultural celebration, then the three-day Boon Bang Fai spectacle promises enthralling excitement that will leave you in complete awe.

When: Boon Bang Fai is typically held between May – Jun, various by local areas. The most popular ones are in Yasothorn (second week of May) and Roi Et (first week of June).