We Thais celebrate with gusto and flamboyance. Chiang Mai claims the world’s biggest water fight as well as the most mind-blowing khom loy releases (it is interesting though that a festival born in homage of the rivers has morphed in the past decade to become one which lights up the skies). We eat moon cakes during Chinese New Year (even though we aren’t sure why), we fall hard for the commercial trap that is Valentine’s Day, we carve our pumpkins and get ghoulish for Halloween, we paint bells with faux snow on our windows at Christmas and we celebrate New Year’s Eve at full throttle. Even our funerals can end up being quite good fun; we tend to like a good party.
Perhaps it’s because the weather has finally begun to cool, or because of the annual increase of visitors, but I think that the general buzz in the air is simply due to the fact that we know December and January are our months to play. Just in the coming weeks we have the fantastic NAP Fair (Nimmanhaemin Arts and Design Promenade), the International Balloon, Dance and Jazz Festivals, the massive Smile Party at Huay Tung Tao, the Flora Festival at Royal Park Ratchaphruek, the first CNXP Music + Tech event (Chiang Mai Experience), and just about every other restaurant and bar is offering Christmas and New Year specials. Then you have to the plethora of other festivals, concerts, parties, promotions and all sorts that are ready to keep us from moping at home on our sofas.
With mall culture now firmly entrenched in Chiang Mai, there will be fashion shows, brand promotions and activities just about every day at one mall or another, and having just taken a peek at the CityNow! calendar for December, I have no idea how we are supposed to pick what exhibition, wine tasting, fair or gala to go to. For a city of a million, we do have it going on.
And the great thing about all of this is that there really is something for anyone and everyone; temple fairs oozing culture and local flavour, outrageously opulent double-digit course dinners, arty farty bohemian gatherings, wild expat parties, casual street side fun and elegant soirees, all ranging in price points, locations and vibes.
It is a good time to be in Chiang Mai. So this month Citylife brings you a festive issue with Tom Clegg getting you all in the mood for Santa’s arrival with a look at how Thais celebrate the birth of Christ, our young intern Pooja Kothari introducing you to the emerging kitsch and decadent Indian wedding phenomenon, a double spread of Christmas shopping ideas and loads of pointers for where to go and what to do over the holiday season, and lest we all get too carried away, Hilary Cadigan sobers us all up with a look at the wildlife trafficking situation in Thailand (but even that has a hopeful ending). It is a fun, fabulous, at times frivolous issue, which should get you in the mood for all the entertainment lined up in the coming month or so.
The person who is going to be utterly exhausted through all of this is our dear photographer friend Steve Yarnold who, this year, aims to break his record of photographing 19 parties in one night! (Though he was heard grumbling recently that with all these pesky new cars on the road it may have to remain an unbeaten record.) In November, he attended over 100 events, and December promises to be even busier! So if you see a rather skinny and frazzled Brit zooming past you on a motorbike, please let him pass, he has another 18 places to be…
For those of you with less frenetic stamina, I hope that our magazine, and our websites City-Now.com and ChiangMaiCitylife.com will be a great resource for you to pick, choose and properly plan your fabulous times.
It is going to be a good month. See you in 2014!