This year the Phuket vegetarian festival will be between 23rd September - 3rd of October, it will start on September 23rd around 4 - 5 pm, when all the Chinese shrines will raise the Go Teng pole, the events will continue through out the evening and the lanterns will be hung from the pole at midnight, this will be the start of the festival. Plenty of fireworks and firecrackers can be expected during the ceremonies. There is no major events on the following 2 days, it might still be worth visiting a shrine at any time, or the festival areas near a shrine, in Phuket Town they are mostly concentrated in the Samkong area, not far from Tesco Lotus. During the festival, those who participate usually go for a very strict diet, no meat, no alcohol, or strong flavoured dishes.
On the 26th of September the street procession for Sapam Shrine will start at 7am, located a few km north of Phuket Town. The piercing usually takes place very early in the morning at the shrines 6am - 7am. In the evening there will be other processions around Kathu village for the Birth and Death Gods.
September 27th has a street procession starting from Samkong Shrine, the journey is from the shrine past the Hospital (Bangkok Phuket Hospital) and into the old Phuket Town.
And on the 28th of September there is another street procession from Ban Tha Ruea Shrine in Thalang, center of Phuket. And another one in Sapam Shrine at 7pm.
29th of September is an eventful day, there is a major street procession in Phuket Town for Bang Niao Shrine starting at 7am, located in the south of Phuket Town on Phuket Road, this is the event you should not miss. A smaller procession also starts at 7am from Chern Talay Shrine, located in the Talang district. Then there is Fire Walking ceremonies at several locations like Sapam Shrine, Sui Boon Tong Shrine and Baan Tha Reua Shrine. The Fire Walking should start around 8pm.
On 30th of September, there is a street procession from Jui Tui Shrine also starting around 7/8am, later in the day a lot of events will follow at the shrines, like ladder climbing at Sam Kong Shrine and Bang Niao Shrine. And then you got the Nail Bridge Crossing at Sapam Shrine. On 1st October the Street Procession is from Kathu Shrine into Phuket Town, an 10km walk that runs thru old Phuket Town and ends at Sapan Hin, the procession will start 7am, but if you want to watch the piercing rituals, make sure to be there before 6am. In the evening there is fire waking at Bang Neow, Chern Talay and Samkong Shrines.
The 2nd of October, is the last full day of the vegetarian festival, a street procession for Sui Boon Tong Shrine (7am), then there is Fire Walking events at Kathu Shrine in the afternoon, and in the evening there is a huge procession in Phuket Town, expect this to be a very noisy event with loads of smoke and firecrackers. Make sure to dress properly if you want to attend this event.
On October 14th, at 5pm the lantern poles (Go Teng poles) are lowered at the Shrines to mark the end of the vegetarian festival.
During the festival there is plenty of vegetarian food in Phuket to eat, you can easily find it as it will be flagged yellow. There is plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Phuket during the festival. This gives you an opportunity to try the vegetarian food.