The wonderfully sunny island of Koh Samui, well known as one of the true melting pots of Thailand, is home to Muslim, Buddhist, Chinese and tribal populations, and 2011 promises to another diverse calendar of event.

One of the most famous festivals to take place on Koh Samui is the Buffalo Fighting Festivals, which often coincide with Songkran. The Buffalo are wonderfully adorned with golden leaves and bright ribbons, before being sprayed with holy water by monks. These fights are not as furious as you might think; the bulls strut, lock horns and shove, until eventually one gives way. Much money changes hands on the outcome of these exciting and visceral contests.

Don’t forget the other New Year celebration in Thailand – the Chinese New Year. With a strong Thai-Chinese presence on the island, the 3 February 2011 is sure to be a big party on Koh Samui. This time around it is the Year of the Rabbit that will be leaping into life. Red flags and bunting will adorn many streets, and firecrackers will signal the start of the New Year.

On a more serene note, the Sawadee regatta is held on Koh Samui from May 30th to June 4th. It is based at Chaweng Beach, on the east coast. Most of the yachts will anchor in the bay at the event head quarters on Centara Grand Beach Resort as there are not yet any marinas on Koh Samui. As the final regatta in the Asian Grand Prix series, it is a significant factor in the eight races in five countries event. It has a large spectator presence and consequently a reputation for glamorous and sensational parties and celebrations. This event is in its tenth year and so promises a thrilling festive atmosphere to mark the occasion.

At the end of August, usually the last week, is the annual Fisherman’s Village Festival. This part of Bophut Beach was originally the location of a French quarter on the island, and so the Village has retained a European, almost Mediterranean feel. The Festival is linked to the boutiques and crafts clustered in this delightful area, seeking to bring in visitors to sample local wares, foods and culture.

The island of Koh Samui also offers a perfect location for the November Kraton festival to honor and worship the Goddess of Water. This event, which reaches its climax at night, involves the floating of banana leaf boats down rivers, lakes, streams and sea, all bearing candles, and turning the waters into a flowing liquid of light.
There are also sporting events scattered throughout the calendar to keep the more active entertained. In May look out for the annual bowling event, the Koh Samui Bowling Championship, in July there is the Avis Samui Tennis Open; and for the super-fit, why not try the International Samui Triathlon? Or at the very least be a spectator for this major sporting event.