Every year, the first weekend in February, it’s time for the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. For three days, the city pays homage to all the beautiful flowers and plants in the area. A huge parade is one of the drawing points of the festivities. When I say huge, I mean huge. It stretches a long enough distance to last a good three hours from any vantage point. There are marching bands (yes, the schools here have marching bands), oodles of incredible floats vividly decorated with thousands of colourful blossoms, and dozens of beautiful girls vying for the position of queen of the festival. Along with the flowers, it is also a celebration of the variety of cultures living in the area so there are lots of traditional outfits on display.
We were told to be on location at 9:00am but the parade didn’t reach our viewing point until an hour and a half later. It always starts at the Navarat Bridge, heads towards the Thae Pae Gate, where it hangs a left and then follows the moat around to Nong Buak Haat Park where 200 varieties of flowers and plants are on display for the event. Chiang Mai is called the “Rose from the North” and it certainly lives up to its name during this busy weekend. Both tourists and locals line the streets to take in the parade, and countless flower pots appear to adorn the shops lining the route.
Over the course of the weekend, there are numerous flower competitions and gardening exhibits. There are also many traditional craftsmen displaying their large variety of goods. The Lanna Thai artists are renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship and skills. For anyone contemplating a visit to this city, the Flower Festival is a great event to use as a focal point.