Many of these annual events are based on the lunar calendar. Contact the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT; www.tourismthailand.org) for exact dates.
Umbrella Festival, Bo Sang. Held in a village of umbrella craftspeople and painters, about 9km (5 2/3 miles) east of Chiang Mai, the Umbrella Festival features handicraft competitions, an elephant show, and a local parade. Third weekend of January.
Flower Festival, Chiang Mai. Celebrates the city's undisputed accolade as the "Rose of the North," with a parade, concerts, flower displays, and competitions. A food fair and a beauty contest take place at Buak Hat Park, on the first weekend in February.
King Mengrai Festival, Chiang Rai. Known for its special hill-tribe cultural displays and a fine handicrafts market. Early February.
Sakura Blooms Flower Fair, Doi Mae Salong. Sakura (Japanese cherry trees) were imported to this hilly village 50 years ago by fleeing members of China's Nationalist, or Kuomintang, party (KMT). Their abundant blossoms bring numerous sightseers. Early to mid-February.
Poy Sang Long. A traditional Shan ceremony honoring Buddhist novices -- particularly celebrated in the northwestern town of Mae Hong Son, but can also be seen in Chiang Mai. Late March or early April.
Songkran (Water) Festival. Thai New Year is celebrated at home and in more formal ceremonies at wats (temples). Presents and merit-making acts are offered, and water is "splashed" over Buddha figures, monks, elders, and tourists to encourage the beginning of the rains and to wish good fortune. Those who don't want a good soaking should avoid the streets. The festival is celebrated in all Northern provinces and throughout the country, but Chiang Mai's celebration is notorious for being the longest (up to 10 days) and the rowdiest. The climax comes April 12 to April 14, days that are official holidays.
Visakha Bucha. Honors the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Lord Buddha. Celebrated nationwide, it is a particularly dramatic event in Chiang Mai, where residents walk up Mount (Doi) Suthep in homage. On the first full moon day in May.
Harvest Festival, Kho Loi Park, Chiang Rai. This festival honors the harvest of litchis (lychees), a small, fragrant fruit encased in bumpy red skin. There is a parade, a litchi competition and display, a beauty contest to find Miss Chiang Rai Litchi Nut, and lots of great food. Mid-May.
Mango Fair, Chiang Mai. This fair honors mangoes, a favorite local crop. Second weekend in May.
Longan (lamyai) Fair, Lamphun. Celebrates North Thailand's most dearly loved fruit and one of the country's largest foreign-exchange earners. There is even a Miss Longan competition. First or second weekend of August.
Lanna Boat Races. Each October, Nan Province holds 2 days of boat racing, with wildly decorated, long, low-slung crafts zipping down the Nan River. The Lanna Boat Races are run 7 days after the end of the Buddhist Rains' Retreat, which generally marks the beginning of the dry season. In mid- to late October.
Loy Krathong. Occurs nationwide on the full moon in the 12th lunar month. Small krathongs (banana-leaf floats bearing candles, incense, and garlands) are sent downriver to carry away the previous year's sins. In Chiang Mai, the waterborne offerings are floated on the Ping River. In the city, enormous 1m-tall (3 1/4-ft.) paper lanterns (khom loy) are released in the night sky, and there's a parade of women in traditional costumes. Late October to mid-November.
Day of Roses, Chiang Mai. Exhibitions and cultural performances are held in Buak Hat Park. First weekend in December.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.