King Narai Fair 2020
The King Narai Fair 2020 in Lopburi
The King Narai Reign Fair is an annual Lopburi festival that celebrates King Narai the Great who was the ruler of the kingdom of Ayutthaya from 1656 to 1658.
The King Narai Reign Fair is an annual Lopburi festival that celebrates the reign of King Narai the Great who ruled the Kingdom of Ayutthaya from 1656 to 1688. The fair is held in the ancient King Narai Palace and runs for nine days. There are a host of interesting events & activities to enjoy.? This year?s fair will run from 10-19 February 2023. The big parade is on the first day.
Highlights of the King Narai Reign Fair are a parade through the town center, sound and light shows, cultural displays & performances, the changing of the guard at the palace, a retro market, a food fair, flower displays and a candlelit Buddhist ceremony.
The center of events is King Narai Palace, also known as Phra Narai Ratchanivet. Other activity venues nearby are Prang Khaek, Wat Phrasi Rattana Mahathat & Vichayen House. All of the venues including the Somdet Phra Narai National Museum are free to enter for both foreigners and Thai people during the festival.
King Narai the Great
King Narai was the king of Ayutthaya from 1656 to 1688. He is regarded as the greatest Thai king of that era establishing both commercial and diplomatic relations with European & middle eastern countries, particularly France. At the fair, you will notice several people in 17th-century European costume in the parade and in the sound and light shows.
King Narai lived in the city making it his capital and the kingdom?s center of culture & religion. After Narai?s death in 1688, the French influence in Ayutthaya waned and they were eventually expelled from the kingdom. You can read more about King Narai here.
King Narai Fair Parade
The highlight of the King Narai Reign Fair is the opening day parade. The parade features hundreds of local people from teenagers through to senior citizens. All are dressed in period or traditional Thai clothing. There are soldiers, french diplomats, farmers, classical dancers, marching bands, horses, elephants, a Chinese Dragon, and of course King Narai himself.
The parade starts between 15.00-16.00. The marchers gather at Pibul Witthayalai School which is opposite the Prang Sam Yod Monkey Temple. The parade route crosses the railway line before passing Prang Sam Yod, Prang Khaek & winding around the city center finally entering King Nari?s Palace. There are big crowds all along the route.
After the parade reachs King Narai?s Palace there is an opening ceremony for the festival. Many of the marchers join activities inside the palace grounds. The ceremonial elephants are popular and many people gather to feed them bananas.
You can view video of the parade on our Facebook page
King Narai Fair Sound & Light Show
After darkness falls there are several sound & light shows that tell the story of King Narai. There are several stages inside the palace grounds and the shows rotate around them starting at the main stage. The first show is a classical show featuring Khon & Muay Thai artists. The second show takes place in front of the Phra Chao Hao Hall which is bathed in soft lighting. The show here is a historical reenactment featuring professional actors who act out the story of King Narai. The narration is in Thai language only but the story is easy to follow visually.
Elsewhere in the palace grounds you will find Thai classical music ensembles, likay & traditional singers.
Candlelit Procession at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Just before 20.00 there is a monk led candlelit Wian Tian procession around the old Royal Viharn of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat which is a short walk from King Narai?s Palace. The Khmer style temple dates back to the 13th century and is a sacred place for Buddhists. The Viharn was added to the temple by King Narai during his reign as king. The participants circle the viharn clockwise three times while holding lit candles. There follows a mass prayer ceremony inside the viharn before the candles are placed on an alter inside the hall below where the temples main Buddha image once sat.
The Changing of the Guard
Soldiers from the parade recreate the routines of the palace guard from the time when King Narai was king. They guard the palace entrances and patrol the palace interior by flaming torch as they would of at the time. They are armed with spears and swords. The changing of the guard takes place several times during the evening with a procession through the palace to each guard post where the sentries are replaced. This only happens during the King Narai Lopburi festival.
King Narai Festival Flower Show
Another highlight of the King Narai Festival are the flower displays. The largest are inside the palace grounds and at Prang Khaek. Many colorful plants & flowers are on display along with decorative nagas, elephants, murals and art.
King Narai Festival People
One of the most memorable features of a visit to the King Narai Fair is the display of traditional clothes worn by local Thai people. Everywhere you look you will see people dressed immaculately in period dress. This is a popular activity for Thai?s who see it as a way to celebrate their ?Thainess? and national identity. If you want to join in there are many stalls inside and shops outside the palace where you can buy or hire costumes and yes, you will see other ?farang? at the festival wearing traditional Thai clothing.
Dressing in traditional clothing has been heavily influenced recently by popular Thai TV dramas such as ?BuppeSanNivas? (Love Destiny) which is set in the reign of King Narai. The show has the highest audience figures for a Thai TV show in the digital era and has spawned several similar shows & movies. As well as the Lopburi festival a good place to witness this cosplay is Wat Chaiwatthannaram in Ayutthaya.? On weekends Thai?s travel there to dress up and take selfies around the temple remains as it is one of the famous locations featured in Love Destiny.
A popular activity at the King Narai Fair is to have your photo taken using an antique portrait camera while wearing traditional dress. There were at least three places with these giant retro cameras. The results are sold as a framed portrait that resembles something from a past era that you might see hanging in a museum!
King Narai Fair Retro Market
The King Narai festival featured a retro market that was split into five locations around the palace grounds. Items on sale included traditional clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, & footwear. A unique feature was the form of payment, Thai bullet money as used in the King Narai era. The coins came in three colors gold (20 baht), silver (10 baht), & bronze (5 baht). You exchanged your modern baht for these at a booth in each section.
There was also an OTOP market and two food areas with seating. Every kind of Thai snack was on sale as well as freshly cooked dishes. There was an art exhibition in the Somdet Phra Narai National Museum garden.
The King Narai Fair is a great day out for anybody who has an interest in Thailand, it?s history & culture. This year?s Lopburi festival (2020) runs until February 23rd but if you miss it it will be back next year.
How to get to the King Narai Reign Fair from Bangkok
You can travel from Bangkok to Lopburi by Bus, 20 Seater Minibus, 13 Seater Minivan or by train. The journey time is 2.45 to 3 hours. Minivan is the fastest way. The train is the cheapest if you travel 3rd class on ordinary or rapid services. Any other class will be the most expensive way to travel. Buses and vans terminate at the Central Bus Station which is a 15-minute walk to the old town or you can take a songtaew (10 baht) or Motorcycle Taxi (40 baht). You can take a van back to Bangkok from opposite the train station. The train station is in the center of the old town where all of the sights are. All trains call at Ayutthaya.
Bangkok to Lopburi Train
There are Ordinary 3rd class trains from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok at 04.20, 09.25, 11.20, 12.55, 14.05, 16.30, 17.25. The fare is 28 baht. The journey time is 3 hours. Return at 04.40, 06.00, 07.06, 08.00, 09.18, 10.56, 17.32. Rapid trains depart at 07.00, 13.45, 20.10, 21.00. The fare is 58 baht. Return at 12.20, 14.39, 18.06, 02.29.
Bangkok to Lopburi Minibus/Van
There are regular services to Lopburi from Morchit New Van Terminal from 06.00 to 19.00. The journey time is 3 hours. The fare is 180 baht. You can book advance tickets here. You can also buy tickets at the counter in building B.
Bangkok to Lopburi Bus
There are regular departures from Morchit 2 Bus Terminal. The journey time is 3 hours. The fare is similar to the Van.
King Narai's Palace
Wai Kru Muay Thai
Wai Kru Muay Thai Festival
The Wai Kru Muay Thai is held each year in Ayutthaya. Muay Thai boxers from around the world come to pay respect to their teachers & Nai Khanom Tom, a legendary Muay Thai warrior