Bun Bang Fai Festival 2023

Northeast, Thailand
19 May 2023




Bun Bang Fai Festival 2023

The Bun Bang Fai Festival, also known as the Rocket Festival, comes from an ancient rain-praying tradition that has roots in the local agrarian culture. Bun Bang Fai is widely celebrated in the Northeast of Thailand, which includes the provinces of Yasothon, Roi Et, Kalasin, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Maha Sarakham, Sisaket, Nong Bua Lamphu, Loei, and Amnat Charoen, as well as some provinces in the North.

Yasothon province generally organizes the Rocket Festival on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the second weekend in May, which this year falls on May 19th–21st, 2023.

Northeastern roots

The Bun Bang Fai Rocket launching off into the sky as part of the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival in Northeastern region of Thailand
Source: weerapong worranam / Shutterstock.com

The rockets are launched as a gesture of homage to Phaya Thaen, the god of rain, for a good monsoon season. A good monsoon is particularly important for achieving a good rice harvest season in Thailand. 

This is particularly important as a majority (58%) of the land use by area in the northeastern region of Thailand is committed to agriculture, from which it derives a fifth (20%) of its gross regional product.

Rockets and parades

Decorations on the Bun Bang Fai Rocket that will be launched at the Bun Bang Fai Rocket Festival
Source: arisara chaorakam / Shutterstock.com

The festival is a colorful and vibrant celebration. Fiery handmade rockets, known as bang fai, carry 20 to 25 kilograms of gunpowder packed into bamboo shoots. The rockets are often decorated with gilded engravings and a great naga or mythical serpent from Buddhist lore.

The festive period is also recognized as a local holiday in the northeastern region, giving local agriculturalists some much-needed merrymaking before they knuckle down at the farms.

On Friday, a number of folk singing and dancing performances take place through the night until Saturday, when the rockets will be paraded to the launch site. Locals often dress in colorful costumes, dancing and singing to accompany the procession. On Sunday, the rockets are finally launched, where several teams compete for prizes based on height and distance traveled.

Bun Bang Fai Festival in Yasothon

Street parade at the Bun Bang Fai Festival in Yasothon province Thailand
Source: Warinezz / Shutterstock.com

Although the festivities take place in several provinces of Northeast and (to a lesser extent) the North throughout May, the best-known Bun Bang Fai Festival is held in Yasothon province.

This year’s Bun Bang Fai Festival in Yasothon will be held from May 13th–15th, 2022 at Phaya Thaen Park with the support of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). The TAT has been supporting Yasothon province in organizing the Bun Bang Fai Festival since 1974.