Festivals in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

  • New Year’s Day

    • 1 Jan 2014

    It’s not an official public holiday in Phnom Penh but with the increasing numbers of expatriates and foreign tourists here, the New Year is rising in prominence. Expect many of the bars and restaurants – particularly those along Sisowath Quay – to make a big deal of New Year’s Eve the evening before. Many places will remain open late and there is no shortage of dining options on 1 January itself for a good New Year’s Day lunch.

  • Victory Day over Genocide

    • 7 Jan 2014

    On 7 January 1979 nearly four years at the hands of the Khmer Rouge came to an end when the Vietnamese Army streamed across the border and rid the country of Pol Pot’s regime. Although the average Cambodian still has mixed feelings about the Vietnamese, this day was nothing short of momentous for the population that survived and is celebrated with a holiday and solemn remembrance.

  • Chinese New Year

    • 31 Jan 2014–3 Feb 2014

    Phnom Penh is a city with a very strong Chinese influence, particularly away from the main tourist areas like Sisowath Quay where the New Year is very popular. Chinese lanterns and banners line certain areas of the city; and the Chinese restaurants - of which there are many - do a roaring trade as ethnic Chinese families celebrate together.

  • Meak Bochea Day

    • 5 Feb 2014–10 Feb 2014

    This is a strictly religious festival that sees monks gather at the various Buddhist pagodas around the city to commemorate the spontaneous gathering of monks to hear Lord Buddha. It is held at the beginning of February.

  • Chaul Chnam

    • 13 Apr 2014–16 Apr 2014

    Phnom Penh gets lively for this, the Buddhist New Year, with increasing numbers of tourists getting in on the action. This is usually the hottest part of the year but thankfully water gets thrown around adding to the party atmosphere along with the dancing and music. The date changes year-by-year but this holiday always lasts three days minimum and often stretches into the weekend.

  • Queen Mother’s Birthday

    • 18 Jun 2014

    This holiday marks the birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk who reached her 70th birthday in 2006. There is much reminiscing on Cambodian television but the untrained eye will not notice a great deal different on this day.

  • Pchum Ben

    • 22 Sep 2014–24 Sep 2014

    Held on the 15th of the month in the Khmer calendar, a date that changes each year, Pchum Ben is a festival that honours ancestors and the deceased. Families will go to the local temple to pray and give offerings.

  • Constitution Day

    • 24 Sep 2014–25 Sep 2014

    Remembers the day Cambodia adopted its own constitution in 1954 signed by King Sihanouk following independence from France. Today the event is marked as a national holiday that sees a great deal of patriotism but little in the way of events that would affect tourists.

  • King Father’s Birthday

    • 15 Oct 2014

    Norodom Sihanouk is a controversial figure but his success at securing independence and his extreme political stamina means he is still popular here. The celebration of the former king’s birthday and national holiday takes place the last day of the month.

  • Water Festival

    • 1 Nov 2014–30 Nov 2014

    This lively festival celebrates the reverse flow of the Tonlé Sap river, a miraculous work of nature. The holiday lasts three days as people flood into the city to enjoy the fireworks, colourful boat races and partying. If you ever planned a visit Phnom Penh to coincide with a festival, make it this one.

  • Independence Day

    • 9 Nov 2014

    This holiday celebrates the day France released Cambodia at the request of King Sihanouk in 1953. It’s a special day for Cambodians and a big celebration in Phnom Penh.

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