Continuing a decade-long tradition, the annual Giant Puppet Parade is set to kick off this weekend in Siem Reap on Saturday. This year, the parade organisers have teamed up with the ChubMet Music and Arts Festival for a fuller celebration of Cambodian arts.
This year’s theme is the film industry and folk tales in film, as well as the usual Chinese-Khmer New Year motif and this year’s animal, the Rooster.
The puppets were built over the course of a month by alumni of Phare Ponleu Selpak. Some 500 children from various NGO-schools also helped out in the workshop for two days and will have the chance to march alongside with their artwork.
“[The parade] is really fun for the kids . . . [there’s] a real sense of community atmosphere,” parade director and co-founder Stuart Cochlin says.
As part of the parade, there will be a special tribute puppet to chapey dong veng master Kong Nay. This marks the second time a puppet of the traditional two-stringed guitar player will be featured, the first being in 2007 for the inaugural edition. Nay, who has at times been dubbed “Cambodia’s Ray Charles”, will also be performing later in the evening at the parade’s end.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for the kids to see Kong Nay perform, and really great way to bring [different] generations together,” Cochlin says.
The parade starts near Old Market at Sunset on Saturday and concludes at the Raffles gardens, where there will be a stage for the ChubMet Music and Arts Festival.