Thailand Countdown 2016
Although celebrations took place throughout the city, the focus point for this year’s festivities was around the majestic Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, which is set against the banks of the Chao Phraya river. The grand celebrations to usher in the New Year included a nine minute pyrotechnic display of more than five and a half thousand fireworks. Of these, 2,016 represented the New Year, 2,559 symbolised the Buddhist calendar New Year and 999 paid homage to Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulayadej, who is also known as Rama IX.
This year’s celebrations were especially significant as they mark the formal start of the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, which marks a major milestone in integrating the economies of Southeast Asia. The event attracted a whole host of VIP’s, dignitaries as well as thousands of tourists who happily mingled with local Bangkokians, who happily mingled together in the nearby Nagaraphirom Park, where they were kept entertained with cultural performances and could get food from a number of different stalls selling delicious Thai treats. We spoke with some of the revellers to find out what they thought about the celebrations.
In addition to the huge fireworks display there was also a five minute ‘Chronicle of the Land’ multi-media performance of lighting, set to a rousing soundtrack provided by the Mahanakhorn Philharmonic Orchestra and Usa Asil, a multi-cultural music ensemble drawn from ASEAN countries. Prayers were also chanted at the nearby Wat Po in the hope that 2016 will bring peace and prosperity for all.
Although the New Year’s countdown was the main focus point of the celebrations, they were in fact part of a larger three-day celebration, again focussed around Wat Arun, that aimed to promote Thai products from across the country as well as from each of Bangkok’s 50 districts. The event was estimated to have attracted more than 2.6 million Thai and international tourists generating about 12.4 billion Baht for the local economy. Not a bad start for the New year I think you’ll agree!