Paddles at the ready for party

Boat racers compete at last year’s Siem Reap Water Festival. Photo supplied
Boat racers compete at last year’s Siem Reap Water Festival. Photo supplied

Paddles at the ready for party

City Hall prepares as big Water Fest expected this year

The Siem Reap provincial government said this week’s Water Festival would be even bigger than last year’s, thanks to the cancellation of official celebrations in the capital.

The festival will be held over three days, from November 24 to 26, with boat races, contemporary and traditional music, dancing, exhibitions, shopping and cuisine.

During the evenings, illuminated boats and lanterns will float on the river and firework displays will light up the sky.

City governor Sou Platong said last year’s festival welcomed more than 40,000 international and local visitors, but this year’s could double that.

“We hope to get a lot of visitors for this year’s Water Festival, because Phnom Penh cancelled the celebration due to the low water levels and ongoing drought,” Platong said.

“A lot of people from Phnom Penh and other provinces have told me that they will come to Siem Reap.”

The provincial authority was pruning trees, cleaning the river and putting out about 200 extra garbage bins and more lights along the roads, he said.

“We are trying our best to organise our town to be the best place to welcome [the visitors],” he said. “Many stalls are setting up along the roads and in the park.

I believe this year’s festival will be even more exciting and bigger than last year.”

He said the government was cooperating with provincial police to ensure the festival was safe.

“People from other provinces will come to see the festival, so we have to provide them the best security during the three-day event.”

Siem Reap cancelled the Water Festival in 2013 due to floods that affected thousands of families in several districts, including Pouk, Angkor Chum, Krolanh, Varin and Srey Snom.

In 2012, the festival was cancelled during the mourning period for former King Norodom Sihanouk.

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