If you were fortunate enough to have gone to Jai Thep Festival last year, then surely you must have already bought your tickets for this year’s event. If you haven’t been yet, read on and then get booking, because this three day festival is one of the highlights of Chiang Mai’s annual calendar.
We have seen festivals come and go over the years, some memorable, others less so. But it isn’t easy to create a festival which has the legs to continue to get better year on year. Jai Thep has done just that, this year promising to be its greatest yet.
Set in a lush little valley that is the Lanna Rock Garden, a short 40 minute drive from city centre, the vast tree-lined field that is the festival is flanked by beautiful green mountains and even has its very own crystal stream skipping merrily over rocks running through it.
Jai Thep is touted as a festival for the entire family and organisers have made sure that it has an inclusive community atmosphere which is welcoming to all. There is a large children’s area, complete with hay-bale castles, slides and other kiddy-friendly toys. There are three separate stages where a whopping 70 bands and artists will perform, with one stage open around the clock. There are activity spaces, food zones and of course bars.
“We want to bring the community together,’ said event organiser Larinda Lehman. “We want it to be a festival where people can come and explore, try something they haven’t tried before and spend the day with the family if they wish, or the nights partying if that’s what they want.”
If you want to dress like a unicorn, Coachella style, then you will fit right in; on the other hand you can happily bring your parents – even grandparents – to listen to some great live music and enjoy some of the many food stalls. Those seeking the more spiritual side of such festivals will find a variety of mindful workshops such as acro-yoga (the one where you fly around and do yoga mid-air) or join a cacao ceremony where you can sip Chiang Mai-grown local cacao.
Party people will be busy rushing from stage to stage so that they can take in just some of the great acts coming. Acts include German slow-tech producers Ninze & Okaxy, Thai alt-rock band Yellow Fang and UK hip-hop duo Too Many T’s. Then there are all of our favourite local bands. There will also be a spoken word and comedy stage and a portable silent disco, where guests can dance the night away in their private world.
Last year’s hit, the 360Dome, will be returning, offering the surreal experience of a fully immersive cinematic experience where incredible visuals such as artist Android Jones’s works will be shown. “The 360Dome is something you would usually see at huge festivals like Burning Man, so we are excited to have the dome back for the second time,” said Larinda.
Larinda says that organisers of this non-profit social enterprise have identified problems from last year and will make sure that they are solved and improved upon, “There will be more food vendors, we will also move everything in a bit tighter and offer more shading. We will keep songtaews there all night so people can go home when they want and the music will be more rounded so that there is something for everyone.”
Best of all, and unlike many world festivals which have come under fire for it, Jai Thep is committed to being eco-friendly and sustainable. “We’ve been environmentally conscious from day one, banning single-use plastics from the festival and implementing zero-waste measures, minimising our impact.”
Go for an afternoon, spend the night, or pitch a tent for the entire weekend, Jai Thep is going to be rocking that garden and bringing the community together for a fabulous time. We can’t wait.