New Year's Day is coming for the third time this year. January 1 revelry in the West had no sooner died down than decorations began to go up for Chinese New Year February 14. Next on the calendar is the Thai new year, Songkran, April 13-15.

Everyone is invited to join in the celebrations starting this weekend. The 7th annual Thai New Year Songkran festival in Hollywood's Thai Town takes place this Sunday (April 4) from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be demonstrations of Thai boxing and fruit carving, a Singha beer garden, live music and presentation of Miss Thai New Year 2010. Food booths will offer everything from barbecued meats, curries and som tam (green papaya salad) to mangoes with sticky rice and other sweets.

Hollywood Boulevard will be closed from Western Ave. east to Normandie Ave. to make way for the festivities.

The following weekend, the Wat Thai in North Hollywood will open its grounds for a two day festival April 10 and 11 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Along with performances of traditional Thai dance and music, there will be a marketplace offering Thai souvenirs, groceries, snacks and lots of Thai food. Songkran is one of the few events when food vendors, who are no longer allowed to operate on weekends at the temple, are permitted to dish up their specialties.

Ritual events on Sunday, April 11 will include a food offering to the monks and the pouring of water onto the Buddha image and into the hands of the monks. Another custom is to build a miniature pagoda from sand. After this, there will be a parade to show off the Songkran queen and continuous art and cultural events until closing time.

Wat Thai, 8225 Coldwater Canyon Ave., North Hollywood. (818) 780-4200.

LA Weekly