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Thai New Year In London: How & Where To Celebrate

By Claire Williams (12 Apr 12)
Tags: thai new year, Songkran festival, thailand, new year london, thai restaurants, restaurants london, blue elephant, nahm, mango tree, belgravia, chelsea, imperial wharf, special offer, thai cuisine, thai food

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Many hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Thailand every year to indulge in the culture, spirituality and beauty of the islands. As the country's reputation diversifies from the stereotypical hippy-resting-place to a group of islands accessible and identifiable by a wide number of people, our interest in the place and, more specifically, the Thai cuisine, has increased with fervour.

Thai food's popularity has exploded in recent years with Thai restaurants popping up on every street corner in London, peddling their unique and exciting sweet-salty-sour-spicy cuisine to hungry city-dwellers. Sitting down for a Thai green curry is becoming as common as indulging in a chicken tikka masala, and many venues in London, from local pubs to high-end central London restaurants, flaunt this much-loved dish on their menus.

The Songkran festival in Thailand is the notorious water-throwing festival that celebrates and marks the Thai New Year (Friday 13th – Sunday 15th April). Thai people roam the streets armed with water pistols and garden hoses, drenching passers-by as they go about their daily business. This is significant and not an act of anti-social behaviour, as it may first appear; the throwing of the water is a display of respect, by capturing the water that has been previously thrown over a Buddha for cleansing, thus bringing good luck and prosperity to those it then drenches. It is also a way of cooling down in the heat. April is the hottest, driest time in Thailand.

If you'd like to celebrate Thai New Year in true Thai style, but you're stuck in miserable grey London, then head over to the Songkran event in Covent Garden today, Thursday 12th April. From midday to 8pm St Martin's Courtyard will be transformed into a Thai wonderland for Songkran, decorated with traditional lanterns and water themed features including traditional blessings. Entertainment will include relaxing spa massages, an urban beach bar where you can sample refreshing Thai Chang and Singha beers as well as street food carts with food provided by Suda Thai restaurant. There will also be the chance to win a holiday for two in Thailand.

However, if getting soaked isn't really your thing, then we'd suggest heading down to these lovely Thai restaurants and indulging in something a little less soggy.

Nahm, Belgravia, London

Okay, so if you plan on blowing your entire Thai New Year budget completely out of the water, then head to Nahm because it is the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Europe and is where famed Australian chef David Thompson (once cited the Westerner who knew the most about Thai cookery –high praise indeed) resides. David Thompson has refined and redefined Thai cooking – with dishes such as venison peanut curry and monkfish coconut and turmeric curry – and to celebrate Thai New Year Nahm is offering a 5-course menu for £70.

Blue Elephant, Imperial Wharf, London

The Blue Elephant Thai restaurant has recently upped sticks from its home in Fulham and is newly located by the River Thames, a move that probably upset all Fulham residents immensely. Intensely flavoured green and red curries and delicately spiced salads are the order of the day, and the Blue Elephant is now serving an all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch menu for £30 per person. Book for this Sunday and celebrate Thai New Year in style.

Mango Tree, Belgravia, London

Thai New Year is a time to celebrate. It's a time to be surrounded by loved ones, to be renewed and to start again. So why not celebrate at the Mango Tree, a stylish, swish Thai restaurant that serves dishes banquet-style using authentic and beautiful ingredients. What could be better than sharing dishes such as tempura soft shell crab and papaya salad (som tum) with friends in a feng shui restaurant? The Mango Tree offers many deals for the weekend, including a set menu at £17 for three courses from the chef's specials, perfect for the Thai New Year.

Click here to discover more Thai restaurants in London.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Wyndham.

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