Fancy a night of joy, madness, music, dance and ginormous puppetry? Then keep an eye out for The Giant Puppet Parade, which happens every year around about the end of February/beginning of March. It’s the joyous creation of the Giant Puppet Project and one the biggest nights of the year in Siem Reap: an occasion to let the kids from the many children’s organisations around town stand out and really shine. The whole event is a wonder to behold, and you definitely mustn’t miss it if you’re here.
Before the parade, over three weeks of workshops with a gang of artists from England and the Phare Ponleu Selpak arts school in Battambang, as many as 500 kids from various organisaations will create giant, colourful, mechanical, illuminated and fun rattan and tissue puppets, each one dedicated to a specific cultural, educational or environmental theme. Some are as long as 50 metres. Yes, you read that right.
Then they unleash them on the world in a magical whirl of colour and sound with a street parade that starts beside Old Market, then around town and up the river, coming to an end in the Raffles Riverside Gardens. Thousands of people throng the streets to see them, dancing and singing with them, and throwing themselves into the atmosphere of happiness and laughter.
It is, without a doubt, one of the highlights of the year here in Siem Reap. For the kids, it’s a massive confidence building exercise. They learn not only that the seemingly impossible can be possible, through construction of something they never knew how to make before, but the positive feedback and public appreciation of their efforts is massively important for children who’ve been brought up to expect little. For the crowds, the chance to participate in such an event is unforgettable.
Don’t miss the Giant Puppet Project; it’s one of the most uplifting events you may ever see.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 18th February, 2016.