Yasothon's Rocket Festival is a spectacular event, definitely worth seeing if you are in the vicinity.
Ostensibly a rain making ceremony, today, the festival is drifting away from its roots with far more media attention while slowly attracting an increasing trickle of tourists.
Held in mid May (May 9-11, 2014), the festival attracts pyromaniacs and amateur rocket scientists from around Thailand who come to see whose rocket can go the highest. Generally made of a PVC pipe stuffed with a mix of nitrate and charcoal, the rockets compete in classes, with the smallest class containing just one kilo of the mixture, while the largest contain 120 kilos!
The rockets occasionally explode before during and after takeoff. This, combined with the heavy drinking that takes places throughout the festival make for a deadly combination and deaths have occurred. Although there is virtually no crowd control, you are well-advised to not stand too close to the rockets when they take off.
The rocket launchings are the main crowd puller but there is also a series of street parades and an evening live entertainment to keep everyone busy (and mostly drunk).
Visiting Yasothon during the festival is highly recommended as its unlikely you'll see anything like this in your home country.
By Stuart McDonald
Last updated on 28th April, 2014.