The Surin Elephant Round-up is an annual festival held in the Isaan region of Thailand typically over the 3rd weekend in November with the date based in part on the cycle of the moon.
Surin has a long tradition in the training and working of elephants and in its earliest form, the festival was a true round-up of wild elephants. However over time the festival has evolved into an entertainment oriented weekend.
The Festival is kicked off on Friday morning with “the world’s largest breakfast buffet”. Several hundred elephants walk down the street and are treated to and half-mile long buffet table laden with an unending supply of watermelon, sugar cane, sweet corn, radishes, bananas, pineapples and other fresh fruits and vegetables. The video below was recorded on Friday, November 18, 2016.
That date was roughly one month after the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the much beloved and long-serving King of Thailand and the procession of floats that preceded the elephants at the buffet were in tribute to the King.
Events on Saturday of the festival are centered at Si Narong (sports) Stadium. Hundreds of elephants along with even more hundreds of humans participate in what is among the largest outdoor dramas produced anywhere in the world.
The highlight of the day’s events is the re-enactment of an epic battle fought between the armies of ancient Siam and Burma complete with infantry, artillery, regular elephant-riding soldiers as well as a king elephant with his rider soldier. The battle ends when the Siamese king elephant defeats the Burmese king elephant.
During the day there are other events like a tug of war between elephants and Thai soldiers, elephants playing soccer, painting pictures and other such nonsense.
The entire show is then repeated on Sunday.