The dates for the Thailand International Balloon Festival have varied over the years, although recently the organizers seem to have settled on March.
2016’s festival took place from March 4th–5th. 2017’s expanded version – which would have been the festival’s tenth anniversary – was planned for March 2nd-7th, but was delayed indefinitely upon the death of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumiphol Adulyadej.
Check back on their Facebook page for further updates on 2018’s event.
Proceedings begin with a bang, as they often do in Thailand, with a mass hot air balloon launch. Later on the first day, there’s an opening ceremony that includes traditional dancing and music. Balloon flights continue throughout the rest of the festival. The balloons are truly wonderful; they’re colorful, and feature a surprising amount of variety in terms of their shapes and designs.
The proper hot air balloons will be piloted by experts from around the world, but there is the opportunity for you to have a go too. If you’re nervous about the thought of soaring high over Thailand’s majestic north, in nothing more than a balloon and a basket… I can see where you’re coming from! Don’t worry though; tethered flights are also available, where you’re tied securely to the ground.
The fun continues even after the sun sets with live musical performances. There’s even a performance that features lights in floating balloons that are synchronized with each other, and with the music. It’s definitely one of the more unusual spectacles you’re likely to witness in Thailand!
To be honest, there isn’t really any significant cultural or historical reason for the International Balloon Festival to exist!
This doesn’t mean it should be overlooked, however. Few festivals express the fun-loving nature of the Thai people more than the International Balloon Festival. Taking place in Thailand’s scenic north, the Thailand International Balloon Festival is also one of the most photogenic events on the calendar, and it’s worth noting that it’s extremely family-friendly.
The Thailand International Balloon Festival has been held in various locations over its ten years of existence. Nakhon Nayok, Pak Chong and Ayuthaya have all played host over the years. The most recent edition, in 2016, took place at Payap University in eastern Chiang Mai. 2017’s event was supposed to be in the same place.
With Chiang Mai being such a touristic hub in Thailand, it would make sense to continue holding it there. It’s also worth noting that free transport was available for 2016’s edition, from all over the city, making it extremely convenient to attend.
Basically, cross your fingers that it remains in the ‘Rose of the North’!