Bo Sang Umbrella Festival 2024

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival showcases hand-painted paper parasols along with artisanal products to capture the heart of all art lovers.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
19 January 2024

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The Bo Sang Umbrella and Sankampaeng Handicrafts Festival showcases hand-painted paper parasols, a traditional art form of the Bo Sang Village, along with artisanal products to capture the heart of all art lovers.

Every year, the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is held for three days during the third weekend of January, commencing on Friday morning and continuing through until Sunday evening. Since the 1980s, the festival has continued to promote the village’s cultural history and artistic heritage.

The saa paper umbrella

A person making an umbrella made of paper and fabric at the Bo Sang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Source: Suriyun / Shutterstock.com

Originally a source of supplementary income between harvest seasons, the art of crafting saa paper umbrellas slowly became one of the most prominent handicrafts of Bo Sang, both historically and economically. Today, Bo Sang artisans specialize in various phases of the process:

1. Forming the structure – each individual bamboo strip is precisely carved out and woven into the wooden axles and finished with delicate threadwork.
2. Making saa paper – mulberry bark is dried and then pulverized into pulp. The pulp is then placed into water, dyed, and spread thinly onto a screen.
3. Attaching the paper – the panels are then glued to the ribs of the parasol, with embellishments added as decoration.
4. Painting the umbrella – After sealing with white gesso, the panels are colored with acrylic paints. The final design is then coated with a natural varnish for some protection.

Source: Suriyun / Shutterstock.com

Bo Sang Umbrella Festival highlights

During the three-day festival, local artisans demonstrate the umbrella-making process to travelers far and wide, and some offer workshops for those interested in making their very own Bo Sang parasol. 

The festival also features innovative handicrafts from villages of the Sankampaeng District, from the handmade paper of the Ton Pao Village to the woodworking of the Tawai Village. Once part of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, the town proudly presents craftsmanship that has passed down from generation to generation.

Women wearing traditional costume during the 30th year of Bo Sang Umbrella Festival in 2013
Source: 501room / Shutterstock.com

On top of that, the festival also offers a vibrant mixture of traditional and modern performances. During the day, visitors can enjoy a parade of Bo Sang beauty pageant contestants riding around town on bicycle, holding onto the iconic parasols. The parade also features performances of the northern Thai Fon Lep dance.

Other fun activities during the festival include an opening ceremony, cultural shows, and exhibitions.

Umbrella village

If you don’t have time to visit Bo Sang during the festival, it remains an interesting attraction that lies about 16 kilometers from Chiang Mai city.

Bo Sang, also known as the umbrella village, got its nickname over a century ago. A local monk known as Phra Inthaa stumbled upon the Burmese art of ornate paper parasols during one of his pilgrimages.

Realizing that his hometown contains all the necessary ingredients, Phra Inthaa brought the knowledge of umbrella-making to the community. To this day, locals can be seen showing their respect to the sculpture of Phraa Inthaa surrounded by the Bo Sang parasols.