The three-day Water Festival in Phnom Penh kicks off today, with the leaders of the country sharing their best wishes with holiday makers.

The festival has resumed after a 3-year hiatus, and will be contented by 338 boats from the capital and provinces, with around 20,000 rowers taking part. Each night, the Phnom Penh riverside will be illuminated by 30 large lantern barges, each one representing a specific government institution or unit and some private companies.

“On the occasion of the Water Festival, I would like to wish all of our brothers and sisters safe travels and the best of health. May you stay strong, enjoy long lives, and be successful in your duties,” said Prime Minister Hun Manet, via social media.

Likewise, former Prime Minister Hun Sen, President of the Supreme Privy Council to the King, shared his best wishes to the public on this spectacular occasion.

“I urge our citizens to come and join the large crowds that are watching the boat racing at the riverside. There are many stalls selling all kinds of goods throughout Phnom Penh, and concerts – both traditional and contemporary – have been scheduled for public parks throughout the city”, he said.

“Our country enjoys full peace; without it we could not celebrate big events at all, let alone the Water Festival. I hope all compatriots have fun with their families during this occasion,” he added.

The National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals (NCONIF) informed the public through via social media that during the festival celebrations, fireworks displays will take place four times: at 7pm each day from November 26-28, and at midnight on November 27.

On November 25, Phnom Penh city governor Khuong Sreng inspected security preparations along the riverside. He instructed all of the forces stationed there to provide security for the public.

“I take this opportunity to reiterate that our forces must take full responsibility for public safety. Please bear in mind that as always, you have the trust of the people. We cannot disappoint them, and must ensure that their trust is met,” he said. 

To reduce traffic congestion on and near the capital’s riverside, city hall has banned heavy trucks and buses from entering the area from November 25 to November 29, from 10am to 10 pm. Vehicles which are transporting people to the visit the festival must park in designated spaces, as directed by police officers.

The Phnom Penh police announced that more than 16,000 officials from the capital’s joint forces will be on standby at various locations throughout the capital, to ensure security, public order and the safety of revellers.