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Updated by Anastasia Smith on Jun 05, 2024
Headline for Most Popular Festivals In Cambodia Absolutely Worth Seeing During Your Trip
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Most Popular Festivals In Cambodia Absolutely Worth Seeing During Your Trip

Cambodia is rife with stunning cultural and historical attractions, including amazing festivals! Throughout the year, Cambodians celebrate various unique events, both historical and modern. Let’s look at some of the most interesting festivals tourists can also partake in while in Cambodia:


Khmer Harvest Festival–Celebrating the Traditional New Year

The harvest festival, which marks the onset of the traditional new year, is enthusiastically celebrated by the Khmer people in Cambodia, who make up the largest ethnic group in the country. It is one of the biggest festivals in the country and is celebrated with a 3-day vacation all Cambodians get to enjoy. This is the time urban dwellers with Khmer roots travel to their family villages to celebrate with farmers. The event marks the end of harvesting time and the start of the leisure season (at least for those in traditional farming). Khmers celebrate the traditional New Year with much fanfare, including games, music, religious observances, rituals, and of course, special food to mark the occasion. 


Pchum Ben–The Festival of the Dead

Also known as the Ancestor’s Day or the Hungry Ghosts Festival, Pchum Ben is Cambodia's version of a festival dedicated to the dead. The event honours seven generations of ancestors and is considerably more subdued than the boisterous Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Cambodians believe that on the day of the festival, the gates of hell open and all the ghosts are let out, including the ghosts of their ancestors. Cambodians honour the ghosts of their relatives by offering them food at temples and pagodas. Some also offer food to Buddhist monks hoping it racks up good karmic merits that will help ancestors who committed grave sins leave hell and ascend to heavenly realms. Pchum Ben is a beautiful festival that showcases Cambodians’ filial piety and is well worth observing at least once. 


The Angkor Festival–A Grand Celebration of Native Arts

The Angkor festival is held near Cambodia’s most famous attraction, the Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world. Though the festivities are held at the temple complex, the event is not really about the temple itself but rather is a grandiose celebration of the country’s traditional performances, dramas, and theatre. Actors and performers from all over Asia come to the festival to put on shows based on religious myths and ancient folktales. The festivities are full of colourful costumes, indigenous music, and traditional drumming. The festival is quite popular among the locals and attracts many local celebrities, dignitaries, and at times even the reigning monarch. You can participate in the festivities luxuriously and conveniently with stays at nearby 5-star hotels like the FCC Angkor by Avani.


River Festival–Advocating for Protecting Natural Resources and Waterways

Cambodia historically thrived as a rice-growing kingdom, which would not have been possible without the many picturesque rivers coursing through the land. Cambodians traditionally honoured the rivers and the River Festival is a combination of those ancient beliefs and more modern needs to preserve natural resources. The festival is held in the Siem Reap province and is highly accessible to tourists from any of the best hotels in Siem Reap. Unlike other festivals in Cambodia, the River Festival offers many contemporary forms of celebration, including over-the-top firework shows. The festival also includes a celebration of food, named the Mekong Food Festival, where you can enjoy many types of local dishes unique to this region. And of course, you can enjoy boat tours and kayak down the Mekong, which is decorated with colourful flags for the duration of the festival.