Everything You Need To Know About Thailand’s Epic Vegetarian Food Festival

By Sophie Oddo
5th Sep 2019

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Before you disregard this as just any other vegetarian festival, think again, because this nine-day event is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

What To Expect

Expect anything but an ordinary foodie experience, with the annual Vegetarian Food Festival as chaotic as it is loud. Also known as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, the celebration occurs on the eve of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, kicking off on Sunday 29 September and ending on Monday 7 October, 2019. 

Complete with Lion Dances weaving through a dense crowd, sporadic firecracker throwing and a whole lot of chanting, there’s definitely a lot to digest (and we’re not just talking about the food). The event is “en blanc” with all participants decked head to toe in white get ups while the “mah song” (festival volunteers who wear elaborate costumes and perform) pierce their faces with hooks and large spears, with some even walking on hot coals or lying on a bed of knives. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.

The Rules

Despite sounding impossibly wild, the Vegetarian Festival still has some mandatory rules you’ll need to abide by if you decide to take the plunge. While tourists are encouraged to take photos and even take part in the procession, make sure you give locals space to perform what they’ve prepared for weeks. If you want to get super technical, those who are mourning are not supposed to attend celebrations in temples as well as women who are pregnant or menstruating. While a lot of the performances and rules may seem outrageous from an outsider’s perspective, as always, it is imperative to pay the utmost respect when it comes to highly religious events such as this.

Get Ready To Drool

Despite being labelled as a “vegetarian” festival, it is in fact a vegan festival, with food being prepared without meat and all animal products. Despite a lot of tourists attending the event to see the extreme piercings, the food is encouraged to be enjoyed by all, with a plethora of participating restaurants and food stalls. You can expect to tuck into famous Thai noodle dishes and other local specialties, all prepared without any animal products. Meat lovers never fear, as special care is taken to ensure all the food has the same texture and appearance of the meats they are replacing. It’s a win win.

The Details

What: Phuket Vegetarian Festival
When: Sunday 29 September to Monday 7 October
Where: Phuket, Thailand (A few of the major shrines for witnessing ceremonies include: Jui Tui, Bang Niew, Phut Jaw, Cherng Talay, Kathu)

While you're at it, check out the best food festivals around the world

Image Credit: Waranont/Unsplash 

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