COLUMN | Thailand’s New Year is the wildest – and wettest in the world

Dave & pam Bamboo Thai
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Bamboo Thai is owned and operated by Wirral couple, Dave Otter and Pam Anuniwat who have been bringing their unique twist on the authentic taste of Thailand to customers at the White Lion on Grange Road for three years. In 2021 they opened Bamboo Thai restaurant on Hoylake Road in Moreton serving delicious, fresh street food.

Thai New Year is almost upon us and while it’s a national holiday back home, over here we will be hard at work serving up sumptuous dishes from Bamboo Thai’s new (year) menu, both in West Kirby and in Moreton.

The concept of ‘New Year’ in Thailand has an interesting history. Officially, as in most countries, New Year in Thailand is celebrated on 1st January. ‘Songkran’ (pronounced sohng-grahn) was the official New Year, celebrated on 13th April until 1888, when it was switched to a fixed date of 1st April. Then in 1940, this date was shifted to 1 January. Unofficially the celebrations start on 13th April and last at least until 15th April to allow as many expat-Thais to return home, be with family and join in thousands of traditional parades, cultural shows and religious ceremonies and reflect on all that their parents and elders have done for them in the past.


The word Songkran comes from the Sanskrit word saṃkrānti, meaning, astrological passage, and signifying transformation or change. As such Thai astrologers make predictions about the economy, agriculture, rainfall and political affairs according to observations between the two days.

What can already be predicted is that there will be no ‘New Year’ celebration like it anywhere else in the world. Of course, Chinese New Year might be better known, because of sizeable overseas Chinese populations, Scotland and Northern England might have first footing, New Yorkers, the giant ball drop and everyone has fireworks.

Cleansing of a Buddha. Photo credit: jcomp on Freepik

Aquatic skirmishes

But Thailand hosts the world’s biggest water fight. It’s framed as ritual cleansing, but everyone, except, monks, the elderly and babies, can expect to be caught in splash battles. In some parts of the country, Songkran is extended to 19th April with the Wan Lai Festival, the “day that flows”.

It all starts off serenely enough with the washing of Buddha statues with scented water, the blessing of village elders by dribbling water on their arms, but soon a joyous people’s army wielding high-powered super soakers and pistols, buckets of water and even elephants take to the streets to drench everyone in their wake. And thousands of tourists arrive to join in. It’s a celebration that unites the country, from thousands of street parties in Bangkok, to the moated Chiang Mai City in the mountainous North, to the beaches of Phuket and Koh Samui, from the craziest parties of all in Pattaya to Roi Et, famed for its food and where we are from.

Songkran Festival water fight. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Delicious new dishes

Although we will not be there, we thought we might join in by showcasing our own street food heritage further by adding delicious new dishes to our menu, including Pad Lao, a sweet, caramelised noodle dish and the delectable Pad Prik Thai Dam, a tender stir fry black pepper beef dish that forms an integral part of Thailand’s rich culinary history. We are also introducing crispy duck to the menu as well as popular dishes from Chiang Mai.

So come and join us, because we really do wish we were going back to Thailand to celebrate and be with family. It’s so warm, colourful and fun at this time of year. That said, at least we’ll still get a good soaking from UK April showers!

Happy Songkran everybody: Suk San Wan Songkran Tuuk Khon / สุขสันต์วันสงกรานต์ทุกคน


Happy New Year: Sawatdee Bpee Mai / สุขสันต์วันปีใหม่.

Bamboo Thai at the White Lion: Curry and a Pint night Wednesday, 5-9pm; regular menu Thursdays & Fridays, 5 – 9pm; Saturday 3 – 7pm; Sunday 1 – 7pm.

Bamboo Thai restaurant, 272 Hoylake Road, Moreton: Tuesday – Sunday from 5-10pm. Takeaway and delivery also available.