Phuket has risen from its lazy traditional village to become a popular tourist hub in the east with its pristine beaches and warm waters drawing tourists from around the globe to bask in and enjoy the sun, sand and surf in this tropical paradise. Kathu is actually one of the three districts of Phuket Island. Muang and Thalang are the other two and Kathu includes the popular Pantong Beach and Kamala Beach as well as the island between Pantong and Phuket. Kathu used to be a tin mining industry based village especially in the 19th and early 20th century and although the tin industry is not flourishing as it used to, the little town has retained its traditional cultures and practices. The Kathu Festival is one such that celebrates the old ways and the rich cultural diversity and vibrancy of the land.
Usually celebrated in the month of July, the festival lasts around three days when street parades are organised with locals dressed in elaborate costumes and dancers glide to the thump of age old tunes. With the years the festival has built its reputation as an elaborate festival of colour and music and builds in size and eloquence each year. Apart from the flamboyance, historical information regarding the mining industry can be learnt at the parade from the great tin mining exhibit as well as discovering the different costumes and the background story of these vibrant garments and twinkling headdresses.
The land of smiles it truly is with the locals beaming from ear to ear, dancing and eating and simply enjoying themselves in the streets. The main roads on which the parade goes is blocked off during those few days in the evening hours and vendors selling local delicacies from fire breathing spicy to sticky sweets line the sides from end to end. The tantalising aromas, the scintillating sounds of the thousands of trinkets that make up the headdresses and ornament the garments as well as the thumping beat of drums and seductive traditional music will leave you entranced in cultural finery.