Hua Lan rocket festival ushers in the rainy season
Singing, dancing and drinking were the order of the day at the Hua Lan Rocket Festival in the Mae On district just outside Chiang Mai.
Held every year to herald the rains, this annual event is a wonderful spectacle of northern Thai rural culture filled with an abundance of happiness and the excitement of competition by the various teams involved and crowds of wide-eyed onlookers. Mainly a Thai event with well over 5000 people we only spotted a few foreigners.
The fiery masterpieces, which can only be constructed from natural materials such as bamboo reinforced with hemp rope, are over 50 foot long. (Their Thai name is Bang Fai) Various local villages and temples compete for prizes which are judged for the most artistic rockets and those which stay aloft the longest.
The ground shudders and the ears are filled with the deafening roar at take-off from one of the almost 100 rockets while the villagers make as much noise as possible using drums cymbal trumpets.
Not all make it into the air but explode to the excited screams of spectators running for cover. While we were there three exploded on the launch pad and we only saw one person with a head injury who was whisked off on the back of a motorbike to who knows where.
The rocket festival is held every year in late June or early July and is located in Mae On district of Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Mail
CMM Reporters