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Preparations underway as boat races return to capital

The most recent boat races in Phnom Penh took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019.
The most recent boat races in Phnom Penh took place before the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019. Heng Chivoan

Preparations underway as boat races return to capital

Cambodia is gearing up for a series of exciting events across the county to celebrate the coming Water Festival, with boat races taking centre stage as a prominent feature of the revelries.

Marking the culmination of the holiday period, the Water Festival, locally known as Bon Om Touk, is officially scheduled to take place from November 26-28, according to the 2023 calendar.

Local celebrations are set to kick off a week before the national holiday, creating a festive atmosphere throughout the Kingdom.

The Stung Treng Provincial Administration has unveiled plans for boat races from November 18-19. Men Kong, spokesperson for the authority, said the organising committee is already in the midst of enhancing the town’s aesthetics, cleanliness and environment while verifying the registration of the participating boats and crews.

Alongside the competition, the province is orchestrating events which will showcase the culture and traditions of minority ethnic groups, as well as art performances, exhibitions of local products, fireworks and concerts.

“This year, we expect a lot of participation from the local population, as well as tourists from other provinces and even some international visitors,” Kong explained, adding that a boat named “Sekong Sen Chey Barami Preah Ang Thom” is set to represent the province in the national competition in Phnom Penh.

Deputy governor of Kandal province Nou Peng Chandara, said that although a committee has been established, decisions regarding the organisation of races and other events in the province are still pending.

“We will be ready for these events, as we are every year,” said Chandara, who hinted at aligning the contest with the conclusion of Buddhist Lent Day, known also as Vassa.

Meanwhile, the Pursat Provincial Administration announced a three-day regatta on the Pursat River from November 4-6. The organisation of this race is aimed at creating entertaining events that celebrate the national traditions of the Khmer people. The administration has called upon all relevant entities to register boats for the competition.

On a national scale, former Prime Minister Hun Sen declared in June that the government would host the Water Festival in Phnom Penh, coinciding with the 70th National Independence Day.

“There will be two major holidays at the end of this year… these celebrations must be organised on a large scale,” Hun Sen stated, addressing concerns over the government’s ability to fund the events following last year’s postponement due to an ASEAN meeting.

He encouraged citizens and authorities nationwide to partake in the celebrations in the capital, which will feature a variety of events including boat races, performances and exhibitions.


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