Chiang Mai Festival City on the horizon?

By | Sun 15 May 2022


This week editor Pim Kemasingki talks to Alex Soulsby, creative education specialist and founder of Prem Artist in Residency Thailand. Alex is an advocate for the importance of art and creativity in all areas of education.

This week, however, we discuss Alex’s efforts in spearheading the – fingers crossed – upcoming Chiang Mai Festival initiative.

Having worked with numerous theatre companies and educational groups in the UK over the years, Alex is a key member of a group of people who are hoping to emulate the successful annual Edinburgh Festival right here in Chiang Mai. The aim is for Chiang Mai to host a city-wide festival in December 2023.

Is this yet another pipe dream?

In fact, in 1997, Citylife’s founder John Shaw MBE proposed the exact same concept, featuring the idea on the front page of our publication. Sadly, it was a few decades ahead of its time, but Citylife is thoroughly excited to see this long dormant idea come to possible fruition.

We discuss the possibility of organising a world class ‘Chiang Mai Festival City’ – possibly expanding the month-long festival into a year round city feature. “This is about creating an opportunity for performers to come together for a monthlong festival following the approach of the Edinburgh Fringe festival, the largest of its kind in the world,” explained Soulsby.

“During the annual month long festival in Edinburgh there are more than 2,500 venues and over a billion pounds generate in that month. Thousands of performances are featured and this festival has a rich history of where many world performers cut their teeth.”

Chiang Mai wants to look at that and take the best ideas and apply what is applicable for Chiang Mai for it. “Everyone who is interested in the Thai and arts cultural sector will hopefully get involved,” he added.

“Edinburgh is the cultural capital of the UK and Chiang Mai is arguably the cultural capital of Thailand,” added Alex. “Both are northern mountainous regions; the Edinburgh Royal Mile where the fringe takes place is about the same size as the old city. “

This could be a game changer for Chiang Mai!