Giant Puppet Parade Returns To Siem Reap for 10th Year

About 1,000 children and adults will march through Siem Reap City on Saturday night, many of them holding aloft the glowing rattan-and-paper puppets for which the annual Giant Pup­pet Pa­rade is named.

Thousands of spectators are ex­pected to gather along the pa­rade route from the Old Market to the Royal Indepen­dence Gar­dens for the event’s 10th iteration. Last year, about 15,000 people turned out to watch the event, said British architect and project director Stu­art Cochlin.

A woman looks at a puppet of a monkey head in Siem Reap City last week. (Antal Gabelics)
A woman looks at a puppet of a monkey head in Siem Reap City last week. (Antal Gabelics)

“If it carries on the way it’s carrying, we expect about 20,000 people this year,” he said on Wednesday. “When we first started in 2007, we probably had about 100 people.”

Each year, the event is used as a platform to make young people and spectators aware of Cam­bo­dia’s endangered and indigenous species. This year, Mr. Cochlin said, five of the seven puppets have been made to resemble a monitor lizard, a white-winged duck, a water buffalo, a caterpillar and a red ant. The other two will be modeled after a monkey to hon­or the upcoming Year of the Monkey, and a lion from the coun­try’s royal coat of arms.

The puppets will also be illuminated from the inside. The bamboo-and-rattan armature and lighting systems were made with the assistance of British outdoor-exhibit designer Martin Math­ews and British lighting designer Lucy Gaskell. They worked with the organizers and 12 Cambo­dian artists trained at Phare Pon­leu Selpak’s art school in Bat­tam­bang City who conceived the puppets.

The Giant Puppet Parade in February last year. (Lim Sockchanlina)
The Giant Puppet Parade in February last year. (Lim Sockchanlina)

“We discussed their ideas and then we discussed how we could make it better,” Ms. Gaskell said.

Making the puppets realistic was no small task, said artist Tes Vannorng. “We had to think about how to design the whole body to make it all work,” she said.

The parade is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a 45-minute show at the Royal Inde­pendence Gardens with performances by musicians and Phare’s circus artists, she said.

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