Chiang Mai Flower Festival: Photo Essay

The mural details on the this float are amazing. Everything is made from petals!
My arrival in Chiang Mai, Thailand coincides with the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is held every year in the beginning of February (Feb 1-3). Call it good Karma for I have three days to spend in the city before heading to my work assignment at the Forest Conservation at the Elephant Home.

My program director offers me a quick tour before dropping me off at my guesthouse in the Old Town part of Chiang Mai.   We are heading to the riverside and the moat when I noticed a street that is cordoned off.  I ask my program director what’s going on.  It occurs to him that it’s the beginning of the flower festival.  He points me to the restaurant where I can get lunch and tells me that the Suan Buak Haad Park, which is the center of the flower festival, is just around the corner.  He says it’s an area that I can explore on my own since it’s really near my guest house. 

After checking in and dropping my luggage off at the guesthouse and having lunch, I walk to the park, by the riverbank.  I'm  pleasantly surprised to find a row of stalls offering flowers of vibrant colors. Each stall is unique in its offering.  One stall has a display of orchids in different colors. Another stall has a display of petunias in all shades of red, white, pink and purple.  There are stalls with miniature trees; yellow chrysanthemums only; stall representing plants from the neighboring countries; landscaped with waterfalls and decorative plants and flowers; and flowers I have not seen before like this plastic-looking yellow fruit or flower?    
A unique variety of eggplant
Late in the afternoon, I go back to the park with a co-volunteer I met at the guesthouse.  We walk the park and Arak St. to find plenty of food stalls:  grilled squid, meat on skewers, sticky rice, coconut drinks and cut fruits like green and yellow mangoes. 

The following day I’m awaken by the sound of fireworks.  My guesthouse host tells me that it’s the beginning ceremony for the flower festival parade.   Later I watch the parade and the floats on display at Arak Street in front of the Suan Buak Haad Park, where the parade finishes.   What an introduction to Northern Thailand!  Now I understand why Chiang Mai is named the “Rose of the North”.  



There are more than 20 floats, sculptures of temples and animals crafted from flowers:



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