Cambodian Society
in the United Kingdom


National Festivals

Several festivals are held annually which are of interest to both international and domestic tourists. The major festivals are as follows:

January 01
International New Year’s Day

April 14-16
Cambodian New Year

Bonn Chaul Chhnam
A three-day celebration after the end of harvest to mark the turn of The New Year according to the Khmer lunar calendar. Every home is seen with attractive decorations. Shrines are full of food and beverages given as offerings to God... Other people attend Buddhist temples where traditional games are also performed.

The Cambodian New Year is one of the major celebrations in the Cambodian culture. It is based on the lunar calendar, and is celebrated in mid-April, which is the first month of the year in Cambodia. This time of year also represents the end of the harvest. It is time for farmers to enjoy the fruits of their harvest and relax before the rainy season returns.

People clean and decorate their houses, as well as set up an altar to welcome the New Year Spirit Tevada Chhnam Thmey who is said to come down to earth at this time. A statue of buddha is placed on the altar together with flowers, candles, incense sticks, a bowl of scented water, food and drink, and different type of figures made from banana leaves.

Day one

The festival starts where by people are garthered at their local monastery and offer food to the monks. A special sand mound is built on the monasteries's grounds, which are decorated with five religious flags, one on top and four on the sides.

Day two

People gather with their families and friends to wish each other a Happy New Year and exchange gifts.Some might revisit the monastery to ask the monks to say a special prayer for their ancestors. this day is the day to show thoughts of consideration and gratitues to the elders.
Parents, grand parents and teachers are receiving gifts from children out of respect. It is also a time to serve. Cambodians offer charity to the less fortunate, participate in service activities, and forgive others of misdeeds that may have been done to them. The people continue to add to their sand maountain.

Day three

The buddha statues at homes and at monasteries are washed. It is said that, this ensures good rains for the comming year. Children wash the feet of their parents as sign of respect on this particular day. When a Buddha statue is washed with perfumed water, it is believed to be a kind deed that will bring good luck, a long life and happiness.

May 25
Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal
It is culturally celebrated to alert the nation of the commencement of rainy season, and farmers to be ready for farming rice by starting to plough. The venue is a field at a wing of Royal Palace, Phnom Penh. The scene is interesting as it depicts real ploughing activities where cows are given a variety of crops to eat. Based on the choices of crops eaten by the cows, predictions are made for the coming year.

May 29
Visa Bochea Day - Buddha's birthday

October 11-13
Pchum Ben Day - The Soul Day

Bonn Dak Ben and Bonn Pchum Ben (11-13 October) is the festival held for commemoration of the spirits of the dead; 15 days later offerings are made in the temples. A religious festival to bless the souls of ancestors, relatives and friends alike who have passed away. Household members attend Buddhist temples.

Bonn Kathen (October) is a 29-day religious festival when people march in procession to the temples where the monks change from their old to new robes.

October 30 - November 1
Birthday of His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk
A giant firework display is held close to the riverbanks in front of the Royal Palace.

November 7-9
Water Festival

Not only it marks the reversing flow of Tonle Sap River but also ushers in the fishing season. The Highlight of the event is boat races over three days. As night falls, fireworks light the sky and a lighted flotilla of boats sail under full moon to whom household worships. Some analysts say the celebration is also a thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land. People from all walks of life gather on the bank of the Mekong River for days and nights.

November 24-26
Boat-race Festival

Bonn Om Took is the water festival which ushers in the fishing season and marks the reversing of the current in the Tonle Sap River. This very popular festival attracts many people to watch the longboat races on the Tonle Sap in Phnom Penh, fireworks and a lighted flotilla of boats.

Late December
International Half marathon

Held at the world renowned Angkor Wat an event which attracts competitors from all over the world. With thousands of spectators and the wonder of Angkor Wat, it is a spectacular setting.

Courtesy of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in London, UK.