Though the French-Thai Cultural Festival, entitled La Fête, was put on hold during the 2010 political unrest in Thailand that year, its origins keep coming back year after year. And best of all, it just gets better than in previous years. This particular festival was first initiated in 2004 to help highlight and promote the richness of French and Thai culture. It's considered to be a symbol of cultural cooperation at a bilateral level between the two countries.
Altogether there are about 30 events spread over a period of three months. The first one usually begins around the first week of February with the last, the first week in April. With over 300,000 visitors coming to the La Fête festivities every year, it's set to become one of the most popular events in all of Thailand. The event will cover a wide range of cultural and art activities.
The festival in Bangkok features theatre performances, classical music, rock concerts, Thai dance, contemporary dance and hip-hop dance as well as circus shows, puppet shows, photography, film and fashion exhibitions as well as some gourmet dining.
Many of these festivals will be held at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre in downtown Bangkok, the Patravadi Theatre, located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, the Aksra Theatre, located in the King Power Complex and the Sodsai Pantoomkomol Centre for Dramatic Arts at Chulalongkorn University.
See my article on Playhouse Theatres for all the directions. Other venues around the city include the Central World Plaza, Museum Siam, Alliance Française de Bangkok, Rot Fai Park, Lumpini Park and also at the Hua Lamphong Station.
The La Fête Modern Dance entitled Urban Ballet by Compagnie Rêvolution showcases 10 multi-talented dancers who for the most part, are trained for the stage in a disciplinary Hip-Hop style. The performances you'll get to see are testimony to a dazzling declaration of dedicated artistic maturity.
This rising generation of dancers integrates contemporary dance, traditional Indian dance and flamenco dance. By doing so they are able to follow its codes, vocabulary, and repertoire. All important aspects of this classical form of ballet. It's where Hip-Hop and ballet blend equally well with one another.
The La Fête Modern Khon entitled Chui Chai by Pichet Klunchun showcases various forms of classical and contemporary dance. Chui Chai is the desire to transform past fear into a more modern society. In this case, Thai. Its origins come from a Nang Loi episode traced to The Floating Lady in the Ramayana.
Legend says that to end the war, a demon named Todsakarn asks his young niece Benyakai to impersonate Sita, the wife of his archenemy, King Rama. Benyakai has no choice but to obey her uncle even though the transformation is difficult and painful. The show is a reminder of the necessary evolution one needs to stop wars today and to modernise society. Chui Chai is that tale.
For the first time, a Visual Theatre production entitled Frozen Juggling by Compagnie Non-Nova will appear at the La Fête Cultural Festival in Thailand.
It showcases how an inventive group of artists perform out of the box with their daring creativity, style and quirky manoeuvers. It is a fab ice juggling production that takes on some strange twists and turns whereby frozen objects seem to slowly change shape as they melt.
Non-Nova, Sed Nove simply translated refers to... Nothing is new, we just see it differently. The show is quite suitable for young children and runs for approximately one hour.
Discover the newest trends with Sacrés Français entitled Mauvaise Graine whereby an inventive group of artists perform out of the box with their daring creativity, style and quirky comments. Mauvaise Graine is a modern puppet show inspired by "the ugly duckling", a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
The theme around this particular tale is very relevant to today's world. It revolves around four seasons, has a cruel twist to it and a moving social message. The show is suitable for young children and runs for about an hour and ten minutes.
This year the French-Thai Cultural Festival will be extended to seven other cities around the kingdom, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui. The aim here is to create a greater understanding of French culture and also to strengthen long-standing Thai-French relationships.
As a bonus foreigners and locals alike can get free access to many of the festivities. This way you can limit your spending while still able to fully enjoy being a part of these fabulous events. You will also be allowed to attend some of the special programs throughout the festival activities.
These include the Valentine’s Day Cinema-Picnic at the Museum Siam, the Fashion Exhibition at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre from mid-February until mid-April, the Paris Photo Exhibition at the Alliance Française in Bangkok from late February until early April and the Tuk Tuk 26 Show held in various areas around Bangkok. All of which are not to be missed.
This La Fête fashion photography exhibition entitled Fashion 3 showcases the diversity of fashion photography through the eyes and lens of French, Thai and European photographers. You will get to see countless fashion photos made famous for their iconic subjects by mostly unknown photographers.
It's perhaps largely thanks to the modern era that fashion has become a world passion permitting French Haute Couture to rub shoulders with Thai fashion creators. Photography has widely contributed to this phenomenon.
Fashion 3 highlights the beauty of birth, death and everything in between. The exhibition is free to all visitors and held daily from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm, except on Mondays from mid-February to early April. BTS National Stadium.
This La Fête open-air photographic exhibition entitled Portrait of Asia, is a collaborating between the Central World Plaza and the mega-department store ZEN located within the mall. It showcases a variety of unique photographs.
One such exhibit is by French photographer, journalist and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand, entitled Earth from the Air. Another is by underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta entitled Planet Ocean. The exhibition is free to all visitors for the whole duration of the cultural festival. It is open every day from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm from early February until early April. To get there, take the Sky Train to either Siam or Chidlom Station.
Open-Air Modern Puppetry
Tuk Tuk 26 is basically a Thai version of the French La Chambre 26 show. There are a number of these small open-air modern puppetry shows taking place at various venues around the city. The French scenes were customarily performed out of a caravan, but in the Thai version, they will be performed with the help of a Tuk-Tuk. I believe it's best not to reveal too much here.
It is thanks to this mini mobile theatre, that these shows can be presented everywhere. It's also a unique way to meet new audiences and a very generous way to give a taste to those who do not or cannot afford to go to the La Fête shows. Go discover this little jewel on the streets of Bangkok. They are free, but you must hurry as the whole show lasts only 25 minutes.
These shows can vary from place to place, including at Hua Lamphong Station, Rot Fai Park at Central World Plaza,
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and
Lumpini Park to name a few, and are usually held around mid-February.
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