Thai Festival: Celebrating culture and diplomacy

The 4th Thai Festival will be held on July 22–23 at the North Plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The festival is presented by the Royal Thai General-Consulate in Vancouver and features Thai live performances, culinary demonstrations and crafts workshops. Food and refreshments from local Thai restaurants will also be available. Admission to the festival is free.

Many Thai people have found Canada to be a very open and welcoming society,” says Sutthiluck Sa-ngarmangkang, Consul General of Thailand in Vancouver. “They have enjoyed the ability to live here without any discrimination and they have certainly integrated themselves very well within the Canadian society.”

According to Sa-ngarmangkang, British Columbia is home to 2,500 Thais – many of whom are temporary residents here for study or work, or have chosen to settle permanently following marriage to a Canadian. Thai culture in Vancouver has mostly gained prominence through the numerous food and beverage establishments that the Thais have established. However, Sa-ngarmangkang believes that the Thai people have a lot more than just food to celebrate when it comes to their culture.

Sa-ngarmangkang sees the upcoming Thai festival as exemplification of the diverse cultural and economic activity of the Thai community.

Exploring Thai culture

Sutthiluck Sa-ngarmangkang, Consul General of Thailand to Vancouver. | Photo courtesy of Royal Thai Consulate-General, Vancouver

The opening ceremony of the festival will feature a live performance by a troupe from the Phattayakul Thai Music & Drama School. The Consulate has flown the troupe directly from Bangkok with the support of Thailand’s Ministry of Culture,” says Sa-ngarmangkang. Audiences of the opening ceremony will be able to witness a performance of Thai’s traditional dance along with music performed by an ensemble.

Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to witness cooking and fruit-carving demonstrations by culinary experts from Rajamangala University of Technology Phra Nakhon, one of Thailand’s most renowned universities.

Food will remain a central focus at the upcoming festival as attendees will be able to savour Thai fresh produce and also other imported products.

“There will be representatives from the Thai agricultural office in Washington, D.C. who will introduce the many tropical fruits of Thailand for the public to taste. There will also be food supplied by eight Thai restaurants to provide attendees with the authentic experience of Thai cuisine,” she says.

Strong diplomatic ties

The Consulate will also be hosting another cultural event, Amazing Thailand, on July 19 at the B.C. Parliament Buildings – a premium venue that, according to Sa-ngarmangkang, demonstrates the extensiveness and magnitude of the event. “I believe that Amazing Thailandhas been the only foreign event to be held at the B.C. Parliament Buildings. This will our second time hosting the event and we managed to attract 2000 attendees from all walks of life last year,” she says.

Like the upcoming festival at the Art Gallery, Amazing Thailand will also feature live performances, cooking demonstrations and exhibitions about trade and business in Thailand.

“Representatives from the Thailand Board of Investment and the Thai Trade Centre in New York will also be present in Victoria to educate the local community on opportunities in Thailand,” says Sa-ngarmangkang. “Thailand is a hub for the art and the digital industries, and we work closely with Canadian investors [who are interested in these industries.]”

Efforts in promoting Thai culture in Canada has been worthwhile as Thailand has become a major tourist destination for Canadians. Sa-ngarmangkang estimates that about 200,000 Canadians visit Thailand every year.

“Canada and Thailand have been able to enjoy over 50 years of diplomatic relations. We have had high-level bilateral visits between the two nations. The co-operation between the two nations has expanded to include the education, tourism and trade industries,” says Sa-ngarmangkang.

For more information on the festival, please visit www.thaiconsulatevancouver.ca

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