Festivals and events
Chinese New Year which varies from late January to early February is celebrated by Pattaya’s large Thai-Chinese community with dragon parades, lion dances, and fireworks.
Burapa Pattaya Bike Week is Thailand’s, and one of south-east Asia’s, biggest motorcycle event held in Pattaya each February, drawing motorcycle enthusiasts from all over south-east Asia and abroad. The 2010 event was held over two days with local and international live music acts.
Pattaya International Music Festival is held annually in the month of March. It attracts huge crowds to the different stages along Beach Road and Bali Hai Pier, and presents several styles of music performed by Thai and international artists.
The Pattaya Songkran festival, locally called Wan Lai, takes place each year in mid-April. It differs from most other Songkran festivals of Thailand in several aspects. It lasts several days longer and, besides water fights, the event includes beauty pageants, musical performances, cultural shows, fireworks, and water sports competitions.
Top of the Gulf Regatta is a week-long sailing event held at the end of April, beginning of May.
The Miss Tiffany Universe beauty pageant is held mid-May each year. During the four day pageant, Thailand’s most beautiful transgender persons and transsexuals vie for first place with the final evening broadcast live on Thai TV for an audience of, on average, 15 million.
Pattaya Marathon, featuring several race categories, is held each year in July.
Pattaya Classical Guitar Festival, held annually on the last weekend of October, organized by the Thailand Guitar Society, Pattaya People Media Group, and Siam Bayshore Pattaya.
Loi Krathong, a light festival held during the full moon of the twelfth month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar and which usually falls in November, is celebrated in Pattaya, as in the rest of the country, that evening with people floating krathongs or small, candle-lit floats made from elaborately folded banana leaves on the waters, as well as releasing khom loi or candle-fired hot air balloons into the night sky.
Every November Pattaya hosts Miss International Queen, a yearly international pageant for transgender persons and transsexuals. In 2007 the event drew an estimated 25 million viewers on national TV.
Pattaya has derived part of its reputation as a tourist destination due to the nightlife, and this notoriety has influenced the city’s evolution in many ways. Prostitution in Thailand is technically illegal but tolerated in most cities, including Pattaya. The city’s vast numbers of host bars, gogo bars, massage parlours, saunas, and hourly hotels, serve foreign tourists as well as locals. This is especially prominent in the Walking Street as well as other areas around the city. Efforts have of late been made to clean up the city’s image.
Pattaya also has Asia’s largest gay scene based around Boyztown, the Jomtien Complex, and Sunee Plaza. The city is also famous for its flamboyant kathoey cabaret shows where transsexual and transgender entertainers perform to packed houses.
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