Tag Archives: festivals

Photo: Movie Night On The King’s Birthday, Lopburi, Thailand

Movie Night On The King's Birthday in Lopburi, ThailandLocal Thais watch a movie on the King’s Birthday in Lopburi, Thailand.

The King of Thailand is one of the world’s most revered monarchs. Ask any Thai, and the vast majority will espouse how the King has led the country from being an agrarian nation at the conclusion of World War II, to a modern and well-regarded state where people’s quality of life has vastly improved. Everywhere you go in the country, you’ll see giant portraits of King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. Small framed photos of the King can be spotted in shops, guesthouses, and homes. Despite the fact that Thailand is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the King has no real political power, politicians often call on him for advice, and nobody dares to disrepect him when he voices an opinion, one way or the other. Indeed, it is a crime to insult the King in Thailand.

On the date of the current King’s Birthday (December 5), a bank holiday takes place throughout the entire country. Speeches to honour the King take place on TV, the sale of alcohol is banned (stock up before this day and ALL other scheduled Buddhist holidays), and festivities, including fireworks, take place across the entire nation.

In Lopburi, one of the events they held to honour Rama IX was a movie night on the King’s Birthday. Right outside my guesthouse door, they had a giant video screen set up, where they were showing videos trumpeting the King’s leadership over the years through various tough times. The movie shown above was one concerning typhoon Gay that struck places like Surat Thani and Koh Samui in 1989, making it the first tropical disturbance to form in the Gulf of Thailand and make landfall since 1891. Over 600 people in Thailand were killed, necessitating a massive relief response.

The King led the formation of a charitable organization, which sprung into immediate action in the wake of that disaster, and it has been called upon in other calamities in the years since then (the most notable example being the Tsunami that struck Southwestern Thailand back in 2004, killing 7,000 people). The video was very well-produced, and it did an excellent job to help explain why Thais love their King so dearly.

Ever been in Thailand during the King’s Birthday? What events did you witness/partake in?

A Day In The Life Of The Calgary Stampede, The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth

The sun sets on yet another day in the life of the Calgary StampedeDowntown Calgary as viewed from the Elbow River, in the SW neighbourhood of Mission. Located near the Stampede Grounds, this part of town, along with Downtown and the Beltline, are ground zero for folks partaking and celebrating the Calgary Stampede.

For tourists visiting Alberta from outside Canada, when Calgary is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is its most famous festival, the Stampede. For over 100 years, this event, starting out simply as a rodeo, has come to define the city, to the chagrin of some. Despite the mixed feelings that some people have for this event, it is still one heck of a party and deserving of the moniker “The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth”. Here’s what a day in the life of the Calgary Stampede looks like…

Calgary Stampede front gatesStanding in line for Stampede Tickets … as of 2013, ticket prices cost $16 for admission, a good portion of which goes to charity…

Teepee Village @ the Calgary Stampede The Teepee Village, showing how the First Nations people that resided in this area before us lived.

Walking around the Calgary Stampede Throngs of people stroll the Stampede Grounds, eating the food, enjoying the rides, and taking in the musical acts. Just over 1,000,000 people go through the turnstiles every year, testifying to the popularity of this well-loved festival.

Concession stands @ the Calgary Stampede Just a small slice of the food on offer at the Stampede. So wrong for your waistline, but go on. The Stampede only happens for 10 days a year. Spoil yerself!

Midway Games at the Calgary Stampede Step up. Try your luck. Win a prize.

As if all these traditional trappings of a fair weren’t enough to elevate your excitement level, how about … a wandering marching band? This is the Stampede, remember…

Had enough of the outdoors, or maybe the weather isn’t playing nice? Come indoors and sample some of the attractions located inside the many building on the Stampede Grounds. Like country music? Head to Nashville North, where a nonstop cast of musicians roll on and off stage every day (and beer never stops flowing…) Wanna sample some fine food? Head over to Western Oasis, where you’ll find plenty of elevated treats, along with some excellent wines that pair perfectly with them!

Or, if you are fortunate enough to witness this spectacle as I did during the 2012 Stampede, slap some board shorts on, get wet, and ride some waves more than 1,000 kilometres from the sea on the Flowrider…

After all that activity, it gets better still. Many of Canada’s leading and up and coming acts are attracted to the Stampede’s free stage every year, so you can find yourself a spot on the lawn and listen to the musical stylings of bands such as The Trews for $0 (well, it’s included in the price of your ticket but c’mon … keep up the illusion here!) 😛

After all this, if you still have the energy, head off the grounds and partake of the many offsite parties throughout urban Calgary that are all well-attended by the locals. Even during the week. Seriously. Many people get little or no work done during these ten days, as the city grinds to a near halt. The Stampede is that big of an event, guys. If you attend one festival during your time in Western Canada, make time for the Stampede.

Just be sure to book well in advance, as places as far as an hour outside the city can disappear months before the event.

After you tie up all your loose ends, pack your ten-gallon hat, your Alberta-sized belt buckle, and start practicing your Yahoo! … you’re headed to one of the greatest public celebrations in Canada!

Have you ever been to the Stampede? Share your experiences below!