Chiang Mai Flower Festival
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In 2014, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival was held Friday through Sunday, 7-9 February.
Chiang Mai, Thailand, is often known as the Rose of the North, but it really blooms into flower in February, towards the end of the cool season. Every year on the first weekend of February, the Chiang Mai Flower Festival is opened. The flower beds in public spaces all around the town are especially beautiful at this time of year. Everywhere there can be found gorgeous displays of yellow and white chrysanthemums, and the Damask Rose, a variety found only in Chiang Mai. Also, the pink and purplish Dendrobium orchids, and the yellow Daoruang. The real focus of this Chiang Mai festival, however, is the public garden of Suan Buak Haad on the south-western corner of the moat. The road next to the moat all around the park is closed to traffic, and vendors of plants, Thailand flowers, Thailand orchids and garden decorations set up their stalls there. This is probably the nicest corner of the moat, well supplied with shade trees, and a good place to spend an hour or two looking at what is on offer.
Suan Buak Haad City Park
From here it is just a few steps into Suan Buak Haad itself. This is a very pleasant public space at any time, with formal gardens arranged around a series of pools and bridges. There is a children's play area, and places where refreshments are available. For the weekend of the Flower Festival the park is completely transformed, with colorful displays of flowers, miniature trees and the famous local orchids, all set out for the judges to choose the best of each species. There are also displays by landscape specialists, featuring waterfalls, patios and various schemes of garden decoration. In addition there are stands representing gardens from neighboring countries, and stands selling local products.
Flower Festival Parade
The Flower Festival Parade, a spectacular part of the Flower Festival, has typically started early on Saturday morning, but in 2014, the festival parade ran as an afternoon/evening affair. The flower parade lines up along Charoen Muang Road, all the way from the Nawarat Bridge to the train station. At 4 PM the parade started and moved up Tha Pae Road to Tha Pae Gate. It then turned left and followed the moat round to Suan Buak Haad. Typically, the flower parade moves very slowly, and stops frequently, so there is no need to rush to take photographs of the gaily decorated floats, pretty girls and buff boys, and hill tribe people in their colorful costumes. Western-styled marching bands from local schools and local drumming groups are liberally interspersed among the floats. Dancers in traditional costumes perform Thai dances, and often those taking part in the flower parade hand out flowers to the spectators.
Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival
Many of the pretty girls atop the gaily decorated floats and carriages are candidates for the Miss Chiang Mai Flower Festival competition. By late afternoon the really serious part of the festival – choosing the Chiang Mai Flower Festival Queen - begins. Loud rock music and lots of liquid refreshment help to aid the deliberations. The party goes on into the evening until the Flower Festival Queen is chosen. The atmosphere here is cheerful and relaxed, and at this time of the year the nights are still cool and breezy, creating a very pleasant ambience.