6 festivals to brighten up your world

Head into the light

As we get nearer to saying goodbye to 2022, Bangkok is brightening up with light installation festivals, hopefully ushering in a brighter 2023. We bring to light a list of events that will give you a sparkly buzz. Plus, there are a few selections outside the city if you need to escape the crowd.

Unfolding Bangkok

What: Unfolding Bangkok gives you a reason to visit the Thonburi side of the river. The ongoing "Hidden Temple" project (fb.com/UrbanAlly.SU) brought eight unknown temples — including Wat Intharam, Wat Chataram, Wat Ratchakrue, Wat Phummarin, Wat Dusidaram, Wat Phrayasiri Aisawan, Wat Suan Sawan and Wat Karuehabordee — in Thonburi into focus. Each historic site will be illuminated with mesmerising projection mapping, inside and out, giving a fresh take on how religion meets modern technology. Beyond the lighting shows are activities that connect visitors to the roots of the neighbourhoods, whether through live performances, such as the traditional tiger-hunting show and Chinese puppet play, or a creative bike tour curated by Bike In The City. Visit bit.ly/3O7jIaV for the festivity schedule.  

In fact, "Hidden Temple" is just one of Unfolding Bangkok's three creative projects, initiated by the state-run Creative Economy Agency and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), with other partners and creative minds. "Greeting Benjakitti" is where you can marvel at impressive art installations and performance art amidst the lush Benjakitti Forest Park, and "Living Old Buildings" puts a spotlight on charming Thai architecture.

When: "Hidden Temple" (until Dec 30), "Greeting Benjakitti" (Jan 29 to Feb 26, 2023) and Living Old Buildings (Feb 4 to Mar 5, 2023).

Where: Multiple locations.

Awakening Bangkok 2022 

What: Speaking of illuminating festivals, we are all counting down the days until Awakening Bangkok 2022 (fb.com/Awakeningbangkok.th)! It is that time of year when quaint neighbourhoods are brought to life with illuminated creations and the sights of wandering visitors. Charoen Krung Road and Talad Noi — known as charming riverside neighbourhoods — have been selected to host this year's event. The 4th edition of Awakening Bangkok returns under the theme of "Endless Tomorrow", with new locations like O.P. Place, East-Asiatic Building and a bunch of old shophouses. Joining the sparkling festival is iLight, who helped with a similar light festival in Singapore under a sustainable approach. 

When: Dec 16-25.

Where: multiple locations along Charoen Krung Road.

Beautiful BOT

What: When someone says the Bank of Thailand (BoT) (botlc.or.th) will be lit up, we first thought of the red-jumpsuit heist crew from Netflix’s famous series, Money Heist. However, BoT is just celebrating their 80th anniversary with a lighting extravaganza. Named "Beautiful BoT", the event is part of "Colourful Bangkok 2022", run by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) that aims to reinvigorate the City of Angels once again. Through three distinct scenes, the façade of the riverside building will be illuminated by light shows depicting the history of the Thai monetary institute. Insider's Tip: The best panoramic view of the shows are from the Thonburi side. 

When: Dec 2-3 and Dec 9-10.

Where: Bank of Thailand, Phra Nakhon. 

Vijit Chao Phraya

What: Until Nov 27, the Chao Phraya River is lit up by "Vijit Chao Phraya". TAT has teamed up with the BMA, alongside public and private sector partners, to breathe new life into six riverside landmarks with night-time illumination, light shows and projection mapping displays. Start your light festival-hopping route at Iconsiam. From recycled ornaments to solar-powered lights, the riverside shopping mecca goes green, in a clear nod to Mother Nature. On the opposite side, River City Bangkok presents projection mapping displays on its façade, telling the story of the river and introducing Thailand’s soft power. An awe-inspiring experience awaits at Phra Phuttha Yodfa Bridge, where visitors can enjoy mesmerising illuminations, illustrating local ways of life in different regions. 

Catch traditional "nang yai' shadow puppets and contemporary cultural performances at Wat Kalayanamit. Be camera ready for Wichai Prasit Fort, where mapping displays are projected on the fort’s façade along with special lighting effects telling the winding story of The River Of Kings. The sparkling route ends at Rama VIII Bridge, where the cable-stayed bridge is shining bright with colourful lighting decorations and light and laser performances. Check the timetable of the light shows via bit.ly/3UKEDTy. 

When: Until Nov 27.

Where: Iconsiam, River City Bangkok, Phra Phuttha Yodfa Bridge (Memorial Bridge), Wat Kalayanamit, Wichai Prasit Fort and Rama VIII Bridge.

Nasatta Light Festival Winter Illumination 2023

What: Scrolling through the Instagram previews of the Nasatta Light Festival Winter Illumination (ig.com/nasatta_thai) will only leave you in awe of how the cultural heritage park has been turned into a glittery wonderland. A two-hour drive from the city centre, Nasatta Park in Ratchaburi is a tourist attractions that whisks you off to the past for a day. Experience what it was like to live in Thailand of yesteryears, by donning a traditional Thai costume, which can be rented at the entrance. Temple ruins and rustic Thai-style architecture are scattered throughout the expansive, lush landscape. 

With the annual lighting installation festival set to kick off on Nov 23, imagine how sparkly the park will be as it will be covered in a full scale of illuminating installations that blend the traditional charm of Thai artistry with innovative creations. Prepare for 16 instaworthy highlights that showcase the awe-inspiring beauty of Thai history and culture, such as the "Blessing Blossom", the "Lotus Journey" and the "Nymph Forest". The Nasatta Light Festival Winter Illumination takes place every Wednesday to Sunday and entrance costs B300 for adults and B200 for kids. Ticket via nasattalightfestival.com.

When: Nov 23 to Jan 29, 2023.

Where: Nasatta Park, Ratchaburi. 

Forest Of Illumination At Kirimaya

Another magical lighting festival that is worthy of a drive out of the city is the "Forest Of Illumination At Kirimaya" (fb.com/kirimayakhaoyaiofficial). Every year, the backyard of Nakhon Ratchasima's Kirimaya Khao Yai will be lit up with lighting installations curated by Village Of Illumination. Sounds familiar? They are the bright minds that gave life to Samut Prakan's Muang Boran with their "International Lantern Festival" that recently concluded. We were not sure how glimmering the "Forest Of Illumination At Kirimaya" will be but we certainly know is that Snoopy and Woodstock, along with the rest of the Peanuts gang, will be taking over the festival and embarking on a thrilling journey. 

When: Dec 1 to Feb 19, 2023.

Where: The Secret Forest Of Kirimaya Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima.

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