When I arrived in Phuket in 1987, the first festival I ever experienced in Phuket was the Thai New Year or Songkran Festival which takes place on April 13th. In Phuket the festival lasts for a day whereas in Chiang Mai and other more rural provinces the celebrations go on much longer. I was amazed at how much fun the festival was, the Thai people all seemed to be out on the streets with buckets of water or water pistols and the whole thing seemed like a riot. However the water is meant to be a symbol of washing away bad luck and a more peaceful part of the festival includes pouring water over images of Buddha and as a way of paying respect to village elders and family members.
The following year I was a joint owner of a prawn farm, and this time with plenty of equipment available (large water tanks and a pick-up truck) I joined the farm staff on a wild water tour of Phuket. The water didn't last long of course and we had to stop for frequent refills along route!
By late afternoon the procession of 'water warriors' usually finds its way down to Laem Promthep in Rawai at the south of Phuket, by which time most of the water has run out and people turn to finding somewhere to relax over an evening meal.
The second festival I was to experience was the Vegetarian Festival taking place on the first day of the ninth Chinese lunar month (September or October depending on the moon). The local Chinese and Thai people eat only vegetarian food for the period of the festival and so the streets are filled with stalls selling all kinds of delicious vegetarian food. The people maintain a strict regime throughout the festival and wear white clothes to signify there cleanliness of body and soul.
I still love the atmosphere of these processions, full of smoke and firecrackers, colourful and noisy, definitely not for the faint-hearted.
The festival comes to an end on the ninth day of the lunar month with a ceremony to send off the gods at midnight. This last night is full of firecrackers and the wonderful feeling of completion of the ten days of rituals.