Thousands of visitors are expected to throng Phnom Penh on November 10-12 for this year’s Water Festival after the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals announced the dates for this year’s festivities.

A letter announcing this year’s dates signed by Minister of Royal Palace Kong Sam Ol on Monday was obtained by The Post on Wednesday.

Some 4.5 million people attended the three-day festival in the capital last year. Traditional dragon boats will race along the Tonle Sap river in front of the Royal Palace for the three days of the festival, which dates back to ancient times.

Last year 295 boats joined in the annual boat racing, with 19,017 oarsmen and 220 oarswomen participating.

Traditional and modern music will also be played as part of the festivities, alongside Khmer artistic performances.

Authorities have requested that the crews taking part in the dragon boat racing begin training to improve their fitness, with their vessels ready before the festival begins.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Meth Meas Pheakdey said the municipal committee is still deciding on the scope of the additional celebrations and where exactly they will be held.

Each year, wealthy patrons from the major political parties and government bodies sponsor boats to participate in the competition.

Dragon boat crews take part in races as part of Water Festival celebrations on the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh in November last year. Hong Menea

The winning crews are awarded money, food and other prizes through sponsors. Volunteers assisting in the holding of the festival will be provided with appropriate attire, badges, food for five days and travel assistance.

“We will host the celebrations as is tradition. The preparation of stands and exhibitions and where they are to be placed falls to the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall,” said Chhin Ketna, the secretary-general of the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak did not comment on Wednesday on how many police officers would be on duty.