Bo Sang Umbrella Festival

After Erik and I learned that we would just be missing the annual Flower Festival in Chiang Mai, we went on a hunt to make sure we didn’t make the same mistake again. Our research uncovered a small local celebration in a nearby village.The Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is held each year during the third weekend in January and celebrates the village’s famed handmade, painted umbrellas.

DSC01121WThe celebration includes elaborately decorated streets, umbrella factory open houses, parades, local music and dance, and the Miss Bo Sang Beauty Pageant  Although we couldn’t make it to everything, I think we did a pretty good job in one afternoon.

DSC01103WBo Sang is only a few kilometers outside of Chiang Mai so we were able to easily hop on a shared Songthaew for the 20 minute journey. We were dropped off at the main entrance to the village that was extensively embellished with umbrellas.

DSC01104WWe really enjoyed walking down the main street and admiring the elaborate displays of umbrellas at every store and restaurant. There were also numerous street vendors selling hand painted fans and of course umbrellas!

DSC01105WThere was no archway or entrance left un-decorated! Each and every alley and archway that could support a plethora of umbrellas was decorated to the hilt.

DSC01107WAfter getting our fill of umbrella displays, we soon found ourselves walking into an open house at one of the local umbrella factories.

DSC01108WI was transfixed as a local woman placed white fabric over a bamboo frame and then expertly impregnated the fabric with a water/sun proofing liquid. All of the umbrellas being made at the factory appeared to be fabric umbrellas, but they can also be made with paper that is also waterproofed.

DSC01117WAfter drying in the sun the umbrella would then pass on to the painters who would paint the fabric a solid color and then decorate it in wonderful floral patterns.

DSC01118W Some of the umbrellas were even more intricate exhibiting animals, landscapes or even human figures.

DSC01114WAt one point there were so many umbrellas that I lost track of Erik among them.

DSC01120WA further walk down the street revealed some goings on outside of the handicrafts center and we spent some time enjoying culture exhibitions performed by local primary and secondary school students. We watched a group of boys preform in a percussion dance.

DSC01111WWe also were treated to some dance performances by some younger girls as well as a fairly poor marching band like ensemble.

DSC01124WLater that night there was to be a parade as well as the Miss Bo Sang Beauty Pageant. All of which we sadly would miss. As we were leaving we did, however catch a glimpse of the beauties passing on their way to the beginning of the procession.

DSC01126WI think that Erik secretly wanted to participate.