2010 Phuket Vegetarian Festival - Full Schedule
(Updated 2016), the 2015 festival is September 30 - October 10 the date is based on the Chinese lunar calendar so is different every year.
• Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2016 Schedule
Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2010. Reports and photos on this blog:
• Photos at Kathu Shrine 15th October 2010• Bang Neow Shrine Street Procession 13th October
• Vegetarian Festival Part 1 (photos from 7th, 10th, 11th Octber)
• The Phuket Vegetarian Festival - Intro Page
(this was the 2010 schedule)
Dates and schedule now available for the Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2010 - it will be held from 7th - 17th October. The what? Oh, come on... you must have heard of the vegetarian festival by now? I think I talk about the Phuket Vegetarian festival quite often... it's my favourite event in Phuket, my favourite time of year, and a photographers dream. I never really took much notice until about 2005, but since 2006 have been blogging the festival and taking lots of photos. Here's some photos and comments from last year:
• Jamie's Phuket - Vegetarian Festival Photos 2009
• Flickr Slideshow - 50 Photos of the Festival
(above) entranced Ma Song cuts himself with a sword - street procession in Phuket Town, vegetarian festival 2009.
The festival mostly takes place around Phuket Town and the many Chinese Shrines in Phuket that reflect the Chinese ancestry of many of the people here. Most of the shrines are in or near the town (Jui Tui, Bang Neow, Kathu, Sam Kong), with a few around other parts of the island. The amazing street processions take place early morning around the town - if you want to see one, it's a good idea to get a hotel in town, as processions start around 7am. If your hotel is in Patong, please note it takes around 30 minutes into town and traffic will be diverted around the procession routes. There are "Jae" food stalls all over the island, but not much around the beach areas. Phuket Town is the place to be.
• Google Maps - Chinese Shrines in Phuket
(above) Street procession in Kathu village - they walk from here 10km to the end of the walk at Sapan Hin in Phuket Town
For more general info and links to many of my blog posts about the festival, the shrines and the food, have a look here:
• The Amazing Phuket Vegetarian Festival
It all kicks off on Thursday 7th October in the late afternoon when the "lantern pole" is raised at each temple down which the 9 Emperor Gods are said to descend in the night. I will aim to be at Kathu shrine for this event, as I was last year : Pole Raising at Kathu Shrine. Not much happens for the next couple of days, but the shrines are interesting to visit any evening. The first street procession will be on the 10th October. All processions pass through the old town, all start early (around 7am), all finish at Sapan Hin, right in the south of town.
Vegetarian Festival 2010 - Schedule
Thursday October 7th
At all participating Chinese shrines, starting around 5pm - raising of the lantern 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. Well worth a visit on Thursday evening. I was at Kathu shrine for the pole raising ceremony last year.
(above) prayers at Kathu shrine on the first night of the vegetarian festival 2009
8th - 9th October - there are no big events on the first 2 days of the festival, but you can visit any shrine at any time, and the Jae food is to be found all over the island but mostly around the shrines and especially in Phuket Town.
Sunday October 10th
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). You will always find the TV news and lots of photographers at the first procession, as everyone wants to get the first photos for the paper, and local TV always covers the festival. Since it's a Sunday, I might try to get to this one.
Monday October 11th
Street procession from Sam Kong Shrine - it's not far from my house - see more here: Sam Kong Shrine. They will walk from the shrine in the north of town not far from Tesco Lotus, past the Bangkok-Phuket Hospital and through old Phuket town. It's not far from my house but the road there is narrow and parking a nightmare.. I might just maybe go early that day and try to see something. (I say this every year, and end up going to see the processions just a couple of times :))
Tuesday October 12th
Street procession - Ban Tha Rue 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 few hundred years ago and there are several historic temples in the area and an annual festival celebrating the history of Phuket.
Wednesday October 13th
Lots of things going on today... In the morning, a 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. Bang Neow is only a mile from Sapan Hin, so they walk first north around the old town and then back south to Sapan Hin and back to the shrine. Expect big crowds on this day. There is also a procession for Cherng Talay Shrine which takes place in Thalang district. Maybe a good one to see if your hotel is in Kamala, Surin or Bang Tao.
Later in the day - Fire Walking at several locations including Sapam Shrine, Sapan Hin (participants from Jui Tui 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 have yet to see this, must make an effort!
(above) Pierced and ready to go, Kathu shrine, October 25th 2009
Thursday October 14th
Street procession starting at Jui Tui shrine, which is the biggest shrine in town - you find it just west of the main market in Phuket Town. I went last year - it was crowded but I got lots of photos! Hard to get into the shrine, better to find a spot just outside or along the procession route - the route easy to find - just follow the people!
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!
Friday October 15th
Street procession from Kathu shrine to Phuket Town. It's a fair 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. Only a mile from my house. I have been there early the last 2 years to watch piercing rituals. Want to get there even earlier this year. Things happen early in the morning that are mysterious. I want to be there.
Later in the evening on the 15th - fire walking at Bang Neow, Cherng Talay and Sam Kong shrines.
(above) Getting pierced at Kathu Shrine. If you have a sensitive stomach, don't be there!
Saturday October 16th
The last day of the festival. There is a procession for Sui Boon Tong shrine, then events such as firewalking at Kathu shrine at 3pm - since Saturday is my normal day off, I really must try to see this! And then in the evening/night there is a huge procession around Phuket Town, with people carrying statues of the gods to Sapan Hin. Millions of firecrackers and fireworks. And this year I will be there. It looks mad. I have seen it on TV. I don't think I will take a camera, there will be so much smoke and dust and so many firecrackers, and I hear it's advisable to wear something more than flip flops or you'll get burnt toes!
Sunday October 17th
Around 5pm the lantern poles are lowered at the shrines marking the very end of the festival.
I would LOVE to see all processions and events every night at various shrines, but of course have to work and have a family too.. If you are in Phuket during the vegetarian festival, make an effort. This is unmissable. If you are not sure when to come to Phuket and want to see something different - October 7th - 17th! This is a very special time of year. And don't be afraid of the food! I am (almost) looking forward to a week of tofu and beansprouts.. Joking.. you can get any food you want, but in some areas there are loads of Jae food stalls, so if you are a vegetarian, worth a visit for the food alone.
Lots more information about the festival and lots of photos on this blog. Start at the link below for an introduction and links to various pages on this blog about the processions, shrines and food. October 7th - 17th... see you in Phuket!
Oh, I will just end with my favourite photo from last year, taken just outside Jui Tui shrine in Phuket Town last year, October 24th. I do like a close up portrait.