Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule
Latest Photos of the 2012 Festival - check my Flickr photos :
• Jamie's Photos on Flickr
Blog post about the festival : Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012
I have written loads about the vegetarian festival on this blog in the past and there are hundreds of photos on the blog and on my Flickr photo pages. For general information about Phuket's most bizarre / interesting festival start here:
• Phuket Vegetarian Festival - My Favourite Event in Phuket or
• The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2011 Photos and Blog Posts :
• Bridge Crossing for Purification at Kathu Shrine October 5th
• Kathu Shrine 4th October - Piercings and Firecrackers
• Vegetarian Procession from Bang Neow Shrine October 2nd
• Face Piercing at Sam Kong Shrine September 30th
• Birth/Death Gods Procession at Kathu Shrine September 29th
• Opening Ceremonies at Kathu Shrine September 26th
The start of the 2012 festival was Sunday 14th October in the late afternoon when the "lantern poles" are raised at all the participating shrines. The Emperor Gods are said to descend down the poles into the shrines at midnight. I normally attend Kathu shrine (my local) as I did in 2011 : Photos of Pole Raising and Midnight Ceremony. Not too much happens for the next couple of days, but the Chinese shrines are always interesting to visit any evening or any time during the festival really. The first big street procession was on the 17th October... or actually the 16th - last year the "Naka" shrine (a newcomer in the festival) was the first to have a procession. All the main processions pass through the old town, all of them start early (around 7am), all finish either at Sapan Hin (south end of town) or back at their home shrines if the shrine is in Phuket Town.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2012 - Schedule
(will updated this to 2013 as soon as a schedule is released)
Sunday October 14th
At all the Chinese shrines, sometime between 4 - 6pm - raising of the Go Teng pole. Events at the shrines will go on all evening. The lanterns are hung from the pole at midnight, signifying the start of the festival. There will be plenty of firecrackers and fireworks too. Last year I went back to the shrine just before midnight expecting some wild ceremonies, but it was far more hushed and reverential and kind of spooky. Did not leave the shrine until 1am and people were still gathered there saying prayers.
15th - 16th October - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival except for maybe a small procession from Naka shrine on the 16th, but people can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae (เจ ) food is to be found all over the island but mostly around the shrines and especially in Phuket Town. The festival has many aspects and the food is one part of it. I will try to stick to the strict diet during the festival. No meat, no alcohol. Not just "no meat" - the food is specially prepared with clean utensils and certain other ingredients like garlic and onions are not allowed due to the strong flavour. Don't worry if you are not vegetarian, almost all restaurants are open as normal in tourist areas. In fact, it can be hard to find the festival food near the beaches.
Wednesday October 17th
Street procession starting 7am for Sapam Shrine - this shrine is a few km north of Phuket Town (about a 10km walk from the shrine to Sapan Hin). To see piercing taking place at any shrine you have to be there before 7am. Try 6am. I went to Sapam shrine last year on a grey morning (photos). In the evening, around 7 pm, there will be another procession around Kathu village for the Birth and Death Gods. I was there last year for this very noisy procession! A similar procession also takes place at several other shrines on the same evening.
Slideshow - Birth / Death Gods Procession at Kathu Shrine in 2011
Thursday October 18th
Today's big street procession is from Sam Kong Shrine. Procession goes from the shrine in the north of town (not far from Tesco Lotus), past the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through the old section of Phuket town. The shrine is not far from my house. There's a link at the top of the page to last years photos (2011) from this shrine - soe pretty gory face piercing! The Sam Kong area is also a good area for food hunting, there are stalls all along the street here for half a kilometer.
Friday October 19th
The street procession today is from Tha Ruea shrine which is in the Thalang area of Phuket in the center of the island - this used to be the main town in Phuket a couple of hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area and the annual Heroines Festival celebrating an important date in the history of Phuket - the Heroines predate the Vegetarian Festival by several decades.
Saturday October 20th
Lots of things going on today... In the morning (7am), a huge street procession in Phuket Town for the Bang Neow Shrine, which is in the south of the town on Phuket Road, one of the biggest and most important shrines participating in the festival. Expect big crowds on this day. I have been in town the last 2 years for the Bang Neow procession. There is also a smaller procession starting 7am from Cherng Talay Shrine which takes place in Thalang district in the Cherng Talay area. A good one to see if your hotel is in Kamala, Surin or Bang Tao beaches and you don't want to head to town.
And then ... Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (participants from Jui Tui shrine), Baan Tha Reua Shrine and Sui Boon Tong shrine (just west of the market and not far from Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Town). Fire walking kicks off around 8pm. I did go and see some firewalking a couple of years ago at Kathu. Was crowded and hard to get any photos! Maybe try again this year....
Slideshow - Bang Neow Shrine Procession - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2011
Sunday October 21st
Street procession starting at Jui Tui shrine, which is probably the biggest shrine in town - just west of the main market in Phuket Town. I went to see the procession in 2009 - it was very crowded but I got lots of photos! It was hard to get into the shrine early morning, better to find a spot just outside or along the procession route - the route is always easy to find - just follow the people and the little shrines that people set up outside their houses - that means the procession is coming this way! The area around Jui Tui and along the street from the market is always busy during the festival.
Later in the day, there are lots of events on the schedule at various shrines including bladed ladder climbing at Sam Kong and Bang Neow shrines and "nail bridge crossing" at Sapam Shrine. Not sure what that is! We did go to watch bladed ladder climbing last year at Sam Kong, I did not take a camera as it was a bit rainy outside, the weather can be a concern at this time of year, but usually not too bad and sometimes darn hot! The bladed ladder climbing did not seem too dramatic. Can't say I saw any bleeding feet!
Monday October 22nd
Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a long walk this one, about 10km from Kathu Shrine all the way to town, around the old town and ending at Sapan Hin. Kathu is my "local" shrine. The shrine is only about a mile from my house. I have been there early (6 - 6:30am) the last 3 years to watch piercing rituals. Want to get there even earlier this year. 6:30am is a bit too late really. Must make an extra effort! Things happen early in the morning that are mysterious. The piercing may freak people out the first time they see it. I am now just looking for better camera angles and want to get some video this year too.
Slideshow - Kathu Shrine Piercing and Firecrackers - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2011
Later in the evening on the 22nd - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines. Got to be worth a look!
Tuesday October 23rd
The last full day of the vegetarian festival. There is a street procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine in the morning, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine in the afternoon - I went in 2010 - too crowded! I did take some photos, but the firewalking seems to draw big crowds. Maybe I'll try again this year at one of the shrines. Maybe come with a stepladder to shoot photos over everyone's heads!
In the evening/night of the last day (23rd) there is a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Millions of firecrackers and fireworks. It looks absolutely mad. I have seen it on TV - it's always live on TV in Phuket. I am not sure if I wish to attend and will almost certainly not take a camera, there will be so much smoke and dust and so many firecrackers, also I hear it's advisable to wear something more than flip flops or you'll get burnt feet! Need to wear a cloth over your face too, to avoid too much smoke inhalation! A friend had a firecracker land in his pocket and melt his iPod!
What we did do last year on the last night was visit Kathu shrine for the "Bridge Crossing for Purification" - an evening I enjoyed very much. Everyone in white, lots of smiles, no blood, seemed like the whole village was there!
Slideshow - Crossing the Bridge for Purification - Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2011
Wednesday October 24th
At about 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) are lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the 2012 Phuket vegetarian festival.
Where are the shrines? Location Map - Chinese Shrines in Phuket
View Phuket Vegetarian Festival Chinese Shrines in a larger map
Phuket Vegetarian Festival Schedule | Jamie's Phuket Blog