Christmas cheer on full display in Pattaya

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While Pattaya has traded white snow for sand, the Christmas spirit was still obvious all around the city. Santa Claus costumes, colorful lights and holiday dinners accented the occasion that marked the true start of high season.

Both foreign tourists and locals were celebrating, with female bar staffers on Walking Street dressed as Santa’s helpers and stores were lit with decorative lights to enhance the holiday feeling. Many establishments put out big trees and brought in Santa for a Christmas Eve appearance.

Children from Tung Klom Talman School were a big part of the Christmas Eve dinner at Thai garden Resort. They danced, they laughed and they were rewarded with Christmas presents.

Christmas may be a regular work day in Buddhist Thailand, but the Christian holiday marks the start of the peak high season for Pattaya. The increase in western tourists was augmented by increases in Chinese and Indian tour groups, giving the city is busiest feel yet this season.

Crowds are only expected to swell for the Pattaya Countdown Dec. 29-31.

Hotels, shopping malls and non-profit organizations make their own arrangements for various kinds of activities, games for the guests, lucky draws, dance performances, donation of gifts to underprivileged children and many more.

Some families were lucky enough to hitch a ride on Santa’s open sleigh along Pattaya Beach Road).

Major hotels like the Hilton Pattaya, Thai Garden Resort, Centara Grand Hotels, Amari Pattaya, Holiday Inn, the Marriot Resort & Spa and the Dusit Thani offered great Christmas Eve dinners for couples, families and singles alike at a very considerable package.

At the Thai Garden Resort, a night-before-Christmas dinner party was thrown, offering not only food, but cultural performances and carols sung by children from various charity foundations.

Bar staff got into the spirit by dressing in red.

The hotel was lit up for the occasion, with a large ice sculpture by the pool and live music to entertain the guests.

In Boyz Town, bar owners handed out presents to more than 70 children from local shelters and orphanages.

At Royal Garden Plaza, City Councilman Banjong Banthoonprayuk and mall manager Lalita Wimolphan lit up the plaza’s New Year’s lights and “Let the Adventure Begin” sale campaign.

Walking Street was packed on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Night.

The Lions Club of Pattaya-Taksin brought the marching band from Photisampan Pittayakarn School to perform under the holiday lights.

The magic continued on Christmas Day, with Santas spotted all over the city, some without the long white beards or big bellies.

Over 70 children from Baan Jing Jai came and sang carols in Boys Town, where after they were presented with gifts from Father and Mother Santa.

Toi and the children from the Pattaya Orphanage were invited to sing Christmas carols at Hard Rock before they all received presents organized by the hotel. (Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya)

Pasi Kesoreh received the grand prize from Chatchawal Supachayanont, General Manager of Dusit Thani Pattaya, of two round tickets from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on Thai Airways including 2 nights at the Dusit D2.

Spectacular dance performances by hotel staff at the Dusit Thani Pattaya lit up the stage at their Christmas Eve Gala dinner.

Hilton Pattaya’s Director of Operations Jean-Philippe De Haes (center) joins the children’s choir at Horizon.

Santa arrived at Hilton Pattaya to hand out gifts to the children.

Pattaya city councilor Banjong Banthoonprayuk (back, center), and Lalita Wimolphan (back, right), director of Royal Garden Plaza, officially open the Lighting Decoration Happy New Year 2016 ceremony at the Royal Garden Plaza. Entertainment included performances by children from the Lions Club Pattaya-Taksin and Photisampan Pittayakarn School.

Kantary Bay Hotel, Rayong General Manager Sathavuth Sermprasert (3rd right) and Classic Kameo Hotel Rayong General Manager Aussana Jantapa (2nd left) warmly welcome Rayong Mayor Worravit Suppachokchai (3rd left) when he recently presided over the 2015 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Classic Kameo Hotel, Rayong.

The Children’s choir, led by Toy (far left) perform in the Mantra Restaurant loft during the Amari’s Christmas Brunch.

Amari Pattaya Resident Manager Richard Gamlin (3rd left), along with F&B Manager Dan Jamme and Mantra Santarinas greet guests on the special occasion of Christmas Day.