Chinese New Year in Phuket
February 19, 2015
Get ready for noisy firecrackers, colourful processions and local entertainment as the Phuket enters the Year of the Horse this February. Vibrant celebrations and super shopping bargains abound as Phuket's local Chinese community prepares for its most important festival.
Adding to the celebrations is the Old Phuket Festival, held in the old Sino-Portuguese quarter of Phuket Town each year. Entertainment and highlights like the Dragon Procession promise a kaleidoscope of colour in the streets during the two-day festival.
See Event Calendar Here.
Chinese New Year on Phuket
Chinese New Year's Day 2015 is on February 19, and the festivities will be preceded by the 16th Phuket Old Town Festival, which will be held from February 26-28.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office (TAT) and Phuket City will combine the Chinese New Year celebrations with the annual Old Phuket Festival at the public park next to the TAT offices on Phuket Road with many colourful shows including a dragon dance and traditional dances. Four Old Phuket Town streets - Thalang Road, Krabi Road, Dibuk Road and Phang Nga Road – will be closed to motorized traffic for three evenings of pedestrian celebrations. You'll see Chinese houses with their living rooms decorated with vases of flowers, platters of oranges and tangerines and a tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. The entrances of many shops and houses will be festooned with red banners and decorations to encourage luck and happiness during the coming year. It's a sensory circus, with performances of traditional dance, food, music, and art.
Try to be at the TAT office by 18:00 at any evening during the event as there will be a demonstration on how to make some popular local traditional desserts as well as free samples to savour. What not to miss is a daily tour to Phuket shrines around town by the TAT. Please contact its office as reservation in advance is needed. The community event is free and open to all.
Contact: Tourism Authority of Thailand Phuket office. Tel: +66 (0) 76-212213+66 (0) 76-212213
Location: Her Majesty the queen's sixth cycle birthday Anniversary Park and Thalang Road, Krabi Road, Dibuk Road and Phang Nga Road.
New Year Food
Chinese New Year provides the perfect opportunity to sample special delicacies. Probably more food is eaten during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year with huge amounts of traditional fare prepared for family, friends and ancestors.
Certain kinds of food eaten at this time are considered lucky, with specific ingredients added for a little extra luck during the coming year. Others like fresh bean curd or tofu are considered unlucky so are given a wide berth in favour of more auspicious fare.
Food plays an integral part in the traditional celebrations. On New Year's Eve, Chinese families celebrate with a special dinner dedicated to the spirits of the ancestors - revered for their past contributions to the family fortunes. The communal feast of weilu, literally 'surrounding the stove' is arranged around the family banquet table and is a way of joining the spirits of the past with the family of the present, symbolizing family unity.
Chinese New Year Decorations
Throughout Phuket town, during New Year you'll see Chinese houses with their living rooms decorated with vases of flowers, platters of oranges and tangerines and a tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit. The entrances of many shops and houses will be festooned in red banners and decorations to encourage luck and happiness during the coming year.
Many people wear red for a sunny and bright future. It is believed that appearance and attitude during New Year's sets the tone for the rest of the year so children and unmarried friends, as well as close relatives are given 'lai see' - little red envelopes with money inside, for good fortune. Oranges and tangerines, symbols of abundant happiness, must be taken as a gift if you are visiting a Chinese family during the two-week celebrations to ensure a long relationship with the person you're visiting.
Bringing In the New Year and Expelling the Old
The ear-splitting firecrackers that accompany the celebrations are a traditional way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year - an event that seems to happen every day throughout the festival! On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, traditions dictates that every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to depart.
For the visitor, it's a great time to stay in Phuket. Super food, great shopping discounts at department stores and local shops, plus special hotel and airline deals make it a perfect time for a short vacation. All blended with a colourful festival in a unique place. It's bound to be auspicious!
Gong Xhi Faa Chai!