Events and Festivals
January: International New Year’s Day
January: Victory Day over the Genocidal Regime
February: Meak Bochea Day. The Buddhist ceremony is held during the full
moon of the month of Meak in commemoration of the spontaneous gathering of
the monks to listen to the Buddha’s preaching.
March: International Women’s Day
14-15-16 April: Bonn Chaul Chhnam. Bonn Chaul Chhnam Thmei, the
Khmer New Year, is celebrated for three days from 14 to 16 April following
the end of the harvest season. The first day of the Khmer New Year normally
falls on 13th of April, but can also be held on 14th of April according to
the Khmer lunar astrology.
On the eve of the Khmer New Year, they clean and decorate their houses.
Then, they arrange altars and delicate tables to put offerings for New
On the occasion of the Khmer New Year, they are full of the joys of spring
and are united to light incenses and to pray to the gods. The youth play
traditional dances (Ram Vong, Ram Kbach, Saravan and Lam Leav) and
traditional games such as Bas Angkunh, Chaol Chhoung, Leak Kansèng, Tug of
War, Chick-Catching Kite, and Shuttlecock-Kicking everywhere throughout the
May: International Labor Day
13-14-15 May: Royal Birthday of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah
Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia. Born on the 14th May 1953 in
Phnom Penh Capital, King Norodom Sihamoni is the son of the recently
abdicated former King Norodom Sihanouk.
The celebration is held jubilantly for 3 days in Phnom Penh Capital. The
fireworks start nights. Residents and tourists really enjoy the fireworks
spluttering and going out.
May: Bonn Visaka Bochea. Bonn Visaka Bochea commemorates the
anniversary of the birth and illumination of the Buddha.
May: Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is
solemnly celebrated at the beginning of the sowing and planting season.
Every year, in May, this cultural ceremony takes place in the large park
next to the Royal Palace and in front of the National Museum. Cambodia has a
deep connection with the earth and farming. There is a deep astrological
belief that the Royal Ox has an instrumental role in determining the fate of
the agricultural harvest each year.
The King ploughs a field, and the Queen sows seeds behind. The field is
ploughed three circles. The royal servant drives a Royal Ox to holy trays to
selectively consume food and beverages. The royal soothsayers interpret what
the Ox has eaten.
In this festival, both men and women who can be seen wear brightly colored
Khmer traditional costume.
June: Royal Birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk of Cambodia
September: Constitution Day
September-03 October: Bonn Dak Ben & Bonn Phchom Ben. The Spirit
Commemoration Festival is held for the spirits of the dead. For Bonn Dak
Ben, food is offered to monks for 14 days. The 15th day of the festival is
called Bonn Phchom Ben; people join this festival at a pagoda to make
offerings for the spirits of their ancestors. During this celebration, if
departed souls do not find their family making offerings at a pagoda, it is
believed that the souls will curse and bother the descendents throughout the
October-16 November: Bonn Kathen. Another major religious festival in
Cambodia is Bonn Kathen, lasting for 29 days after the Spirit Commemoration
Festival. Town and country folks march in a procession to the pagoda where
the monks are waiting to change their old saffron robes for the new ones
offered during the festival. The ceremony brings spiritual merit to both lay
people and the monks.
October: Royal Coronation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah
Baromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia
October: Royal Birthday of King Father Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom
Sihanouk of Cambodia. King Father Norodom Sihanouk, the former king of
Cambodia, was born on 31 October 1922 in Phnom Penh Capital.
This celebration revering the country’s influential king is held on 31
October annually. Provincial residents, who would ordinarily have no reason
to visit Phnom Penh, will save up and make this occasion their sole visit to
the capital to join in the festivities.
November: Independence Day. The Independence Day which Cambodia achieved
from France in 1953 is marked by a military parade, carnival floats and
15-16-17 November: Water Festival, Moon Festival. Bonn Om Touk (regatta),
Procession of Illuminated Floats, Sampeah Preah Khè (salutation to the
moon), and Offering of Bananas and Ambok
This vast festival is probably the most extravagant one in the calendar.
The Water Festival, which ushers in the fishing season and marks the
reversing of the current in the Tonlé Sap, is a spectacle to behold. At the
height of the rainy season, the water in the Mékong River that strongly
flows back to the Tonlé Sap forces its current to reverse northwest to the
Great Lake. As the water level begins to subside, the current reverses its
Boat races are jubilantly held in Phnom Penh Capital. Racing boats and
rowers come from several parts of the country to join that competition. The
festival draws thousands of the castors from all walks of life to the
riverbanks to watch long boat races, fireworks and a flotilla of lighted
ships under the full moon. There is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat
and although it is smaller in scale, it is just as impressive due to the
backdrop of Angkor Wat.
The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strength of the
powerful Khmer marine forces in the Khmer Empire.
December: United Nations Human Rights Day