Government Says 50,000 Made Capital’s Sangkran Festival

Phnom Penh’s Sangkran Festival, the first large-scale Khmer New Year event put on by the city, attracted more than 50,000 visitors over three days, according to a district official who helped organize the event.

Ouk Sakal, head of administration for Daun Penh district, estimated that more than 10,000 people attended the festival, held at Wat Phnom, on Friday, while more than 20,000 came on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Revelers enjoy a traditional game at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh over the weekend. (Fresh News)

“If people can’t go to the provinces, then they can come here,” he said.

The festival had three main areas featuring traditional Khmer games, music and dancing; modern music and dancing; and performances including comedy shows.

One of Sunday’s festival-goers, Sakom Vichet, 35, stood with his wife and two small children, watching Veay Ka’am, a game in which a blindfolded participant swings a tall stick to break a clay pot hanging about 5 meters above the ground.

“I wanted to watch people play traditional games,” he said.

Pan Nary, 67, sells beverages at Wat Phnom nearly every day, and said the weekend was one of the busiest she had ever seen.

She said the event was a nice option for people who could not go home to the provinces.

“I think it’s great,” Ms. Nary said. “People who can’t make it to their homeland, they can come here for Khmer New Year.”

Mr. Sakal referred questions about the cost of the event to City Hall spokesmen, who could not be reached for comment.

The only safety incident occurred on Saturday, Mr. Sakal said, when a “drug-addict carrying a plastic gun” was denied entry by some of the more than 240 police, military police and district security officers stationed in and around the pagoda.

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