Bo Sang Village, Chiang Mai
Thank you all for joining us here for another iTravel Exclusive as we explore the Bo Sang Umbrella Festival – a unique three day event held in Chiang Mai province from Friday, January 15th to Sunday, January 17th that has the small town brimming with exquisite umbrellas and lanterns.
History of Umbrella Festival
The origins of the festival are said to date back over a hundred years when legend has it a Buddhist Monk traveled to Burma where he learned how to create Saa paper umbrellas to help protect him from the sun on his journey back to Bo Sang village. On his return he is said to have passed on his newly acquired skills to the rest of the villagers, skills that were passed on from generation to generation. Money raised from selling these umbrellas became an important source of additional income for the villagers and they soon began exporting them around Thailand and beyond.
Over time the villagers added their own distinctive colours and unique styles to the umbrellas, hand painting them with intricate images of brightly coloured local plants and birds. They also began experimenting with new materials, such as silk and cotton which are produced in the nearby village of Sankampaeng.
To celebrate their achievements and showcase their skills to the world, the villagers created a festival which is now held in the town’s main street for three days every year. During the festival the entire town bursts with colour, with beautiful umbrellas of every imaginable size, and colour.
The main event involves a vibrant procession through the streets where the umbrellas are proudly displayed by their creators who are decked out in traditional dress. Other cultural performances, exhibitions, concerts and competitions are held to keep people happy and entertained throughout as we found out when we caught up with some of the visitors. As night falls the streets are illuminated by hundreds of traditional Lanna styled lanterns, the same type that are seen throughout the north during the Yi Peng festival, providing a fittingly beautiful end to an undeniably magical day.