by Chaiwut Poungsuwan and Marque A. Rome (photos of Naga Fest 2015 by Chaiwut Poungsuwan)
Krabi’s annual Naga Fest is coming again this February, covering three evenings on the 27th, 28th and 29th of that month. Site for the fest is Klong Muang Beach in Tambon Nhong Talay. Theme for this year’s event is “Best Seafood, Good Music @ Romantic Beach”.
Krabi vice governor Srichay Sriniang, at a news conference Saturday announcing the fest, noted the people of Krabi are fortunate in their uniquely beautiful natural and marine environments: “Tourists, both Thai and foreign, dream of Krabi,” he said, “feeling they must make at least one visit. Lovers, families and groups of friends on holiday all come.”
The major attraction for this year’s Naga Fest is the return of jazz to Krabi. Top performers from Thailand and abroad will be performing free of charge to the public “on romantic Klong Muang Beach” in a “chic atmosphere with vendors serving food from Krab’s four- and five-star hotels.” Aside from Krabi’s top local artists, those scheduled to perform include: Thai saxophonist Koh Mister Saxman (who can be heard in a clip on Facebook here), chanteuses Jennifer Kim and Nantida Kaewbuasai, Charas Feuangarom, Narikrajang Kantamas, duo Bird and Heart, Gong (from the band Nuvo), and Ben Chalatit — all leading recording stars in Thailand.
Foreign artists include jazz saxophonist Jakob Dinesen from Denmark and the U.K.’s famous pop, R&B and electronica singer/composer/deejay Yasmine Zarine Shahmir.
Aside from music, other highlights of this year’s fest include a walk – run up Mt. Ngon Nak (‘the Naga’s Crest’ — nagas being the divine giant snakes typically decorating Buddhist temples), and a bicycle ride through some of the province’s famous natural attractions.
Festival times are 5.00 PM – 11.00 PM every evening. The event is sponsored jointly by the Krabi Provincial Office, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Krabi Provincial Administration Office, the Tambon Nhong Talay Administration Office, Nopparat Tara Beach – Phi Phi Islands National Park, the Krabi Tourism Business Association and Thai Air Asia Airline. Visitors should have no trouble finding accommodations during the festival: the immediate area of Klong Muang Beach has some 1,023 tourist-class (four- and five-star) rooms, and Muang District, where Klong Muang is located (along with Railay and Ao Nang), has more than 19,000.
Statistics for 2014 show Krabi welcomed 4.7 million tourists that year; income from tourism was 73.2 billion baht, and it is expected that figure will increase to over 80 billion when final figures for 2015 are released. Krabi’s International Airport counted more than 27,000 landings in 2015, an increase of 28.5 percent, and over 3.5 million arrivals (a 29.63 percent increase over the previous year).
At this year’s Naga Fest, some 30,000 visitors are expected to provide the province with an extra 30 million baht in income.