Image: K Village / Facebook

Yuletide will be slightly less merry and bright this year in Thailand, with all the anti-coronavirus measures and their grievous tolls on the economy. 

As a result, some of the popular annual Christmas events have been scaled down or cancelled altogether. People are expected to shop and go out less. Border shutdowns remain in place, with very few exceptions, meaning that holiday reunions will not be possible for many families and friends. 

But we tried our best to gather the remaining twinkles of traditional joyful events for 2020 Christmas. (Final update on Dec. 15)

(You Wish You’re) Driving Home for Christmas

Thai school students participate in a Nativity play in 2019. Image: Assumption College Ubonratchathani / Facebook.

For homesick expats, here’s a few themed events that may ease that heartache just a bit. 

The Irish Cultural Fair Bangkok will hold an Irish Christmas Concert on Wednesday Dec. 16 starting at 6:30pm. Headlining the concert is famed Irish musician and folklorist Mick Moloney, winner of the National Heritage Fellowship lifetime award in 1999 – the US’s highest honor for traditional artists. 

Also performing are the Asian Institute of Technology’s Catholic Community Choir and the music and dance ensemble from the Mercy Centre.Tickets are 850 baht for adults, 450 for students and children. 

Antique Cafe will hold a cozy evening of caroling on Dec. 23 starting at 7pm. The 300 baht ticket price (350 baht at the door, 200 baht for kids under 10) includes an assortment of holiday snacks. 

Mini-cafe Glück will hold a cozy German Christmas Market on Dec. 6 from 8:30am to 5pm. Cafe owner Cristina Grawe promises homemade gluhwein (German version of mulled wine), Christmas cake, cookies, and other goodies along with a small selection of Christmas gifts. 

“We realized no one is going home, all the expats and Germans are staying in Thailand. Everyone is a bit homesick,” Grawe said. “So we will try to recreate a little bit of the feeling of the Christmas market in Germany.” 

For those needing even more of a German Christmas, the German school RIS Swiss Section is holding a Swiss/German Christmas party on Dec. 17 at their campus in far eastern Bangkok. 

The Danish Women’s Network and Danish Church in Thailand will hold the Danish Christmas Bazaar for the second year, on Sunday from 11am to 6pm at the Gaysorn Urban Resort. Cozy up with some festive snacks, watch a children’s Santa Lucia parade, and indulge in hygge.

If watching Bruce Willis spread the Christmas joy in “Die Hard” is part of your holiday tradition, The Rice Paddy Irish pub near Rama IV Road is throwing a shindig to send off 2020 with free food and a drink starting at 5pm on Dec. 12.

I’m Dreaming of A Green Christmas

Christmas carol singers at a shopping mall in Bangkok, November 2020. Image: CentralPlaza Salaya / Facebook.

Love the festivities, but hate the commercialism? The Yard Bangkok is holding a “Less Waste Christmas Party” on Dec. 24 from 6pm onwards. Bring a pre-owned item still in good condition for zero waste lucky draw – your trash could be someone else’s treasure! No need to wrap your present.

The 250 baht entrance fee includes a BBQ skewer and an alcoholic beverage. Sip a beer under a decorated orange tree while listening to swing music. Reservations needed. 

For those wanting some pre-loved treasures: The Made by Legacy flea market will take place on Dec. 25 to 27 at the Sermsuk Warehouse at the Pepsi Pier. Find that antique globe you’ve always wanted! Entry 100 baht. 

The Bangkok Farmer’s Market edition on 10am to 6pm on Dec. 26 to 27 at Gateway Ekamai will also include the annual Bangkok Yard Sale. The market does not allow resellers, and free rental space for small farmers selling their own produce. 

And there’s the Green Christmas Market on Dec. 18 to Dec. 20 from 11am to 8pm at the Pullman Bangkok Hotel G. It will feature booths by sustainable brands, as well as burgers and live music. 

Star of Wonder, Star of Night

Top: The 2019 Hae Dao parade in Sakon Nakhon. 

The Sakon Nakhon annual hae dao parade will be from Dec. 21 to Dec. 25 at St. Michael’s Cathedral in the province’s Tha Rae district. 

The Dec. 23 parade will have more than 200 floats, while the Christmas eve parade will include a choir, church service and a lucky draw. Christmas Day will begin with morning mass at 7am and the large parade starting at 6pm.

Tha Rae district in Sakon Nakhon has the highest number of Catholics in Thailand, many ancestors of whom came from Vietnam.

Mix and a-Mingle in the Jinglin’ Feet

A woman poses for photos with Christmas decorations at a cafe in Samut Songkram. Image: Amphawa-Sri Cafe / Facebook.

Sadly, the famed Christmas fair at Catholic school Assumption College will only last for half a day this year, from 8am until noon on Dec. 23. The fair will also do away with concerts, which have been its crowd magnet for years. 

Social distancing practices will be observed at the school. The annual soi dao lucky draw will still make its appearance, though.

St. Louis Church in Silom will also hold their annual Christmas fair on Dec. 24, starting at 6pm onwards and featuring their soi dao lucky draw. Be warned: there may be fewer prizes than last year “due to the bad economy,” a woman answering the phone at the church said. Entrance is free. 

The Olive Kitchen will have a Christmas Buffet on Dec. 26; 799 baht for adults and 450 baht for kids. Not only will there be a chocolate fondue foundation, but Santa will be there to greet visitors as they take selfies inside of a giant snowglobe. 

The Blue Parrot will have a family-friendly Christmas party from 2pm to 7pm Saturday. Kids will be busy with Christmas-themed activities and crafts, while adults can cool off at the bar. 

Raintree International School will hold a Christmas Fair 3pm to 6pm on Dec. 12, complete with pony rides, a raffle, carols, and Santa to greet the kids. Kids free entry, adults 100 baht. 

Here We Come a-Carolling

Photo: Oonrak Home / Facebook

Six international school choirs will be singing carols to bring Christmas cheer to all from 6pm to 9pm Dec. 9 at the front lawn at The British Club. Save some stomach space for mince pies and mulled wine. Entrance free, but reservations preferred at [email protected]

For something a little more contemporary, Oonrak Super Band will play at Lido Connect Hall 3 on Christmas Day. Dress code: Christmas party costumes. Tickets cost 800 baht at the door. 

O Night Divine

A Christmas celebration at Bangkok’s Santa Cruz Church in 2018. Image: วัดซางตาครู้ส โบสถ์ซางตาครู้ส กุฎีจีน / Facebook.

On Dec. 13, sing along to Christmas carols by candlelight and sip on mulled wine at the 6pm English-language service at Christ Church Bangkok on Sathorn Road. 

At 11:30pm on Christmas Eve there will be a midnight holy communion. Christmas Day communion begins at 10am.

Santa Cruz Church on Thonburi side will have a Christmas festival starting at 6:30pm on Dec. 24 complete with dances and choir performances before the evening mass at 10pm, although the usual scale of festivities will be smaller, with no soi dao festival. Christmas Day mass is at 9am.

The Holy Rosary Church will not hold a Christmas festival this year, but will still have an 8pm mass on Dec. 24 and a 10am Christmas Day mass in Chinese. 

Assumption Cathedral in the Charoenkrung neighborhood will have a Christmas Eve concert and service starting at 8:30pm. Christmas Day mass in Thai will be held at 9am and in English at 10:30am.

Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, also known simply as Chanthaburi Cathedral, will hold a pre-Christmas mass on Dec. 12 at 10:30am. Follow their Facebook page for updates. The cathedral’s fairs in previous years saw 3D lighting decorations, music shows, and firework performances.

Top: Christmas fair at Chathaburi Cathedral in 2019. 

Join In Any Reindeer Games

A Christmas present giveaway event in Sa Kaeo, 2019. Image: Khoksung Church / Facebook.

If Christmas isn’t about settling down in one chair and eating yourself into the holiday weight guilt zone (or if you swore to yourself that it wouldn’t be), here’s some activities that will get you on your feet like a happy elf. 

Dive into the Christmas Pool Carnival at the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park on Dec. 19 from noon until midnight, with food, carnival games, and a DJ to provide some remixed carols for the whole family. Kids below 6 enter free, and adults 499 baht per person. 

Bangkok Roller Derby, Bangkok’s first and only roller derby team is holding a Christmas charity event to roll forward the giving spirit at their “Christmas On Wheels” roller disco on Dec. 4 at the Roller Dome at Emporium. Skate to Christmas tunes in a festive costume by a Christmas tree! Proceeds will be donated to a charity that provides meals and donations to poverty-stricken communities in Khlong Toey.

“We haven’t had an event all year due to COVID, so we want to give back,” said Karina Patterson, one of the team’s skate coaches. 

The 300 baht entrance fee (150 baht for kids under 12) includes rental fee for skates and safety gear as well as a beer for adults. Like a newborn reindeer on skates? No worries, the team will teach beginners as well. 

The Hop swing dance group will hold a Christmas Potluck on Saturday Dec. 26 starting at 8pm. First timers will be treated to a beginner class. Swing dance to Christmas tunes all night after that!

I Don’t Want A Lot for Christmas

K-Village Christmas Market in 2019.

Holiday cards and gifts made by local Thai artists will be on sale at the Glowfish Market from Dec. 18 to 20 from 12pm to 8pm, featuring 28 food booths and 55 brands. Glowfish Sathorn is reachable from BTS Chong Nonsi Exit 2. 

If you need to grab some last-minute gifts, K-Village will host a Christmas-market themed pop-up market with more than 150 vendors from 11am to 10pm Dec. 23 to 27. 

Pick some items for that cousin, let the kids loose at the mini-fair, and listen to a mini-concert from artists such as Scrubb and Superbaker while taking in the Bangkok winter breeze. 

Snap a selfie with Santa while rabidly buying up Christmas gifts at the X’Mas Holly Jolly Celebration market from 8am to 11pm at The Helix lawn on the 5th floor of EmQuartier from Dec. 5 to 6. 

Shop for handmade gifts by local creators at the Creators Christmas Fair market from 11am to 6pm on Dec. 11 to 12 at EmQuartier. The Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit will hold a European Christmas Market from 11am to 8pm on Dec. 12, 13, 19, 20, 24, and 25. 

A relax with a mini concert, themed photo opportunities, and art workshops at Winter Market Fest at Sansiri Town Sukhumvit 77 from 3 to 10pm from Dec. 19 to 20. 

Would rather make your own gifts? Make reindeer ornaments, santa hats, and brownies at festive workshops at the Open House bookshop in Central Embassy on the weekends. Check their page for the full schedule. Each workshop is limited to 30; and a purchase at Open House is necessary for participation.

‘Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.’

“Miracle on 34th Street” (1947).

Heartwarming Christmas classics “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s A Wonderful Life,” will be screened Christmas week at the Bangkok Screening Room, from Dec. 24 to 27, and Dec. 24 to 26, respectively, just in time to restore your faith in humanity before 2020 ends.

Sugarplum fairies will dance before your eyes at the Dec. 17 to Dec. 30 screenings of Peter Wright’s The Nutcracker (2014). And oh, throw a little Maria in there too – “The Sound of Music” screens from Dec. 10 to Dec. 27. 

Films are screened in English with Thai subtitles. Tickets cost 200 baht for children under 12, 240 baht for members, 250 baht for students, and 300 baht for adults. 

Could you be any more alone for Christmas? For nerds of the ‘90s hit sitcom “Friends,” Bangkok Comedy Club is holding a Friends Christmas Trivia Brunch on Dec. 6 at 1pm at Aesop Restaurant. Go rewatch the one where Ross dresses up as a Holiday Armadillo! 

Advance tickets only. A single ticket is 600 baht, 2,500 baht for a group of five. 

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