Posted By : Threeland Travel / Festivals And Events
The annual three-day Water Festival competes with the Khmer New Year for being the most important holiday for Cambodians. The boat races on the Tonle Sap and the carnival atmosphere ashore attract millions of people from all over the country.
A smaller Water Festival is held around Angkor Wat, but for the real thing you'll have to go to Phnom Penh.
In Khmer the annual Water Festival is called Bonn Om Toeuk. The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down stream direction. The remarkable phenomenon that is the Tonle Sap sees the river flowing upstream during the rainy season and then change direction as the rains cease and the swollen Tonle Sap Lake empties back into the Mekong River leaving behind vast quantities of fish. Over three days starting with the last full moon day in October or the beginning of November up to a million people from all walks of life from all over the country flock to the banks of Tonle Sa p and Mekong Rivers in Phnom Penh to watch hundreds of brightly colored boats with over 50 paddlers battle it out for top honors. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strengths of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire. In the evening brightly decorated floats cruise along the river prior to and complimenting the fireworks displays. 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.
A national holiday on November 9th celebrates the independence of Cambodia from France in 1953. This important ceremony takes place at the site of the Independence Monument at the junction of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevards. There are grand parade s in front of the Royal Palace with spectacular floats, marching bands and banners are stretched across the boulevards as expressions of national pride. The center of the activity is the lotus shaped Independence Monument where the King lights the inside torch which will remain burning for three days, as a symbol of the nation’s soul and pride. All over the city flags adorn the shop fronts and bunting stretched over all the main thoroughfares as a sign of national pride. Fireworks at night on the river front.