- Thousands of baskets with candles floating on the river at night
- Swarms of lanterns flying to the sky in Chiang Mai
- A Buddhist purification ceremony to cleanse your spirit
- Making your private wish among the huge crowds of people
- Candles flickering on the streets at night
- Traditional Thai dance shows
Loy Krathong & Yi Peng on the same day
In 2019, Loy Krathong falls on Wednesday, November 13 (festival begins on November 11, ends on November 13). It is a light festival (or known as Thailand Lantern Festival) in Thailand on the full moon day in November. The festival is celebrated nationwide by releasing lotus shaped baskets, decorated with candles and flowers onto the rivers. Chiang Mai, Sukhothai and Bangkok are the best places to celebrate the festival while visiting the country. Planning your trip to Thailand well will have more fun!
Yi Peng, another light festival, is celebrated on the same day alongside Loy Krathong in Northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. It is different in that lights are placed into sky lanterns. Swarms of sky lanterns, decorated with good luck wishes and prayers are released to the sky. Yi Peng usually starts 2 days earlier than Loy Krathong. In 2019, Yi Peng Festival will possibly be observed on November 11 in Maejo location (estimation, not confirmed yet until late August, 2019).
Loy Krathong --- The Floating Lantern Festival
In the Thai language, ’loy’ means to float, while ’krathong’ is a small container, traditionally made from a piece of banana-tree trunk, containing a candle, incense and flowers. The krathong floating on the water symbolizes one’s willingness to let go of hatred and anger. Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s best-loved festivals, occurring at the November full moon to mark the end of the rainy season.
On the night of the festival, Thai people make a wish as they launch their krathongs on the rivers. Some people place hair and fingernails inside the krathong: by doing so, they want to float away their past mistakes and negative thoughts. It is a purification ceremony to enlighten the mind.
When Loy Krathong is celebrated (2017-2029)
Loy Krathong is usually celebrated on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.
Subsequent festival dates (these dates may change):
2017: 3rd November
2018: 23rd November
2019: 11th November (Yi Peng Festival begins on 11th November and ends on 13th November)
2020: 31st October
2021: 19th November
2022: 8th November
2023: 27th November
2024: 16th November
2025: 6th November
2026: 25th November
2027: 14th November
2028: 2nd November
2029: 21st November
Why Loy Krathong is celebrated
It is believed that the light festival originated with paying homage to the spirits of the rivers and thanking the water god for the rains.
According to King Mongkut (1804-1869), it used to be a Brahmanic festival later adopted by Buddhists to celebrate the Buddha. The candles pay homage to Buddha with the beauty and purity of light.
In the still of the night, there are lights everywhere. Before the celebration, there’s silence: monks are meditating, surrounded by flickering candles.
Where and how to celebrate Loy Krathong
Celebrated all over Thailand, the most exciting festivities take place in Bangkok and Old Sukhothai, as people gather at rivers to float krathongs, and to watch folk dancing or sound-and-light performances.
For the full flying-lantern experience, head up to Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng Festival, where lanterns are sent floating gracefully into the sky, creating an exotic atmosphere.
Float your Krathong in Bangkok
On the night of the festival, people gather around lakes and rivers to float their krathongs and make a wish. Candles floating on the night-river make this a feast for the eyes. The lights reflecting on the still waters of the river are like a reflection of your life: meditate, and immerse yourself in peace and serenity.
Many hotels host a Loy Krathong celebration around the swimming pool, where you can also try the ramvong dance. The hotels along the Chao Phraya River promote an event with dinner and fireworks.
Since 2013, the main celebration has been held at Asiatique, the night market near the river, while the banks of Wat Saket remain another popular spot with grand Buddhist ceremonies. The celebration usually starts around sunset. People retell the story of the festival, before the launch of krathongs and a float procession with lights and fireworks.
Popular locations for floating krathongs are: Asiatique riverside, Wat Saket riverside, Lumpini Park, and Benjasiri Park.
Fly your lantern in Sukhothai…
Since the festival originated here, the city residents celebrate it with special passion. There are food offerings to the monks, followed by drama, dance, music and martial arts. The historic city park is the best setting.
The celebration usually lasts five days.
1st Day — An alms-giving ceremony begins at dawn for locals offering dry food to monks. Visitors have a chance to join in bringing offerings.
2nd Day — A traditional Thai dance and music night show is being performed inside the Wat. This is a great opportunity to enjoy the classical Thai drama and have fun by watching performers changing into their costumes and wearing make-up.
3rd Day — Traditional exhibitions of dances, plays and martial arts are on show, with handcrafted souvenirs and local food being offered alongside. Visitors who are interested in local arts and customs will find this very entertaining.
4th Day — A light-and-sound show is put on with fireworks and dances to warm up the night. Crowds of people fill the ground to catch the show.
5th Day — A fantastic evening with grand processions, Buddhist rituals and light shows to set off the krathongs. It is a lively night and travelers experience rich festivities.
Yi Peng --- Chiang Mai Lantern Festival
Yi Peng (or Yee Peng, Chiangmai Lantern Festival) is another light festival celebrated in Northern Thailand alongside Loy Krathong. It is a Lanna festival with the biggest celebration held in Chiang Mai, which is the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom.
The highlight is that numerous sky lanterns, adorned with lights, are released and ‘float’ up into the sky. Actually, sky lanterns are called khom loi in Thai language, which means floating lanterns.
The khom loi are made of rice paper, stretched over a bamboo frame, with a candle attached. The hot air of the candle is trapped inside and makes the lantern rise from the ground. However, since the lanterns can be dangerous, the khom loi are being subjected to more and more government restrictions.
During the festival, different kinds of lanterns can be seen: houses and temples are decorated with khom fai (paper lanterns); Khom tue are lanterns carried on a stick; and Khom pariwat are revolving lanterns placed on temples.
Origins and traditions of Yi Peng
Deeply rooted in Buddhism, some people believe Yi Peng is originated in India with the legend of the candle-carrying bird which once visited the Buddha and spoke to him about merit. Paying respects to the Buddha is regarded as a way to be reborn into the next life to enjoy great popularity and purity.
During the festival, people launch a lantern into the sky as if launching their own bad luck and mistakes into oblivion. If your lantern disappears into the dark before the light goes out, you will have an extremely good year. Conversely, if your lantern crashes, your next year will be full of bad luck.
A typical schedule of Yi Peng
Chiang Mai, Yi Peng Festival 2019 was mainly held in two places: Lanna Dhutanka Buddhist Center behind Mae Jo University and the Cowboy Army Riding Club in Mae Rim District. Both share a similar schedule for the evening. In 2019, Yi Peng Festival will possibly be observed on November 11 in Mae Jo location according to our estimation (it is usually observed on the full moon day in the 2nd month of Lanna calendar every year). Note that the time is not confirmed yet until late August, 2019.
The Lanna Dhutanka Buddhist Center is approximately 1-hour drive (18 km) from the Chiang Mai old town. Yee Peng Lanna International 2019 (or known as Mae Jo University Lantern Release 2019) commenced at 5 pm. Once you have tickets booked with an authorized seller, you will be picked up from The Old Chiangmai Cultural Center or other selected place by minivan at about 2.30 pm.
Held in Cowboy Army Riding Club, this ceremony is hosted by the local government with an early approval in 2019. All tickets are confirmed and the event is ensured to go ahead. Cowboy Army Riding Club is only 10 km away from downtown Chiang Mai. The event was from 6:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Pick-up time was set between 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Best places to observe Yi Peng 2019 --- Mae Jo University vs. Cowboy Riding Club
|Maejo University vs. Cowboy Army Riding Club --Mass Yee Peng Lantern Releases--|
|Event Name||Yee Peng Lanna International||CAD Khom Loi Lantern Festival|
|Location||Lanna Dhutanka, behind Maejo University||Cowboy Army Riding Club|
|Why there||The most famous place to observe; held at the temple with rich religious atmosphere.||Held in the open air, it is religious but more delightful. The VIP price is more reasonable.|
|Hosted by||Lanna Dhutanka Temple||Chiang Mai Culture Art and Design (CAD)|
|Nature of Organization||Nonprofit organization. Facilities are sponsored by local enterprises and the entire profit of Lantern festival is donated to public welfare services.||For-profit Organization|
|History||Started in 2013 and held annually with late approval every year.||Started in 2016 and held annually with early approval every year, attracting many Asian travelers.|
|Date||November 11, 2019 (Estimation, not confirmed yet until late August, 2019)||November 11 (2019), November 12 (2019)|
|Capacity||3000 seats||3500-4000 seats|
|Distance from downtown||20 km away from downtown Chiang Mai||10 km away from downtown Chiang Mai|
|Children Policy||Free entry for Children under 12 years old (no seats provided), though they are not encouraged to participant in the first place. The center holds no responsibility for their safety. |
Children may be asked to leave if fail to follow the security policy or cause noise disturbance to other participants.
|Free entry for Children under 8 years old, adult ticket required for children above and including 8 years old. |
The center is not responsible for their safety.
|Online ticket booking(most sold via an agent)||Standard and Premium (US$300) seats, both include one lantern; |
Tickets are come out on September 1 and likely sold out in 3 weeks.
|Standard (with one lantern) and VIP (US$198 with 2 lanterns) seats; |
Tickets are come out in early June. It is still possible to get a few tickets before October 30.
|Similarities||1. They share a similar festival schedule; |
2. Tickets include round-trip transfer;
3. Follow Buddhist etiquette for dress code and manners;
4. Volunteers help release lanterns and take pictures;
5.Children are advised to purchase tickets in advance in case being stopped at the gate.
Get an entrance ticket to Yi Peng
All visitors need to buy an entrance ticket. Once tickets are released on sale, these are sold out immediately as most are collected by local agencies. For visitors wishing to join in the festival, we suggest that you book the ticket package with an authorized agency via an online platform. Please check what is included in your ticket package before booking.
Update (July 3,2019): Tickets to Cowboy Riding Club are vailable now, do not miss the Premium Ticket if you get the opportunity to buy. Tickets of Mass Release at Maejo University are still to be confirmed.
Five tips before you enjoy Thailand Lantern Festival
- The festival is usually crowded: a few useful tips will help you enjoy it to the full.
- When to arrive: It’s better to arrive around 3-4 p.m. If you arrive too late, you may have to fight your way through the crowds.
- Get your candle: try to get a candle as soon as you arrive. There should be people handing them out at the beginning of the evening.
- Be prepared: bring a lighter, and a marker for writing your wishes on the little boat.
- Don’t buy lanterns from outside vendors: often those lanterns don’t pass security regulations. The official one costs around 100 baht (around 3 US$).
Visit Thailand during Thailand Lantern Festival
November is the best time to visit Thailand since it starts the cool season with little rain while the peak season is not coming yet! Itineraries below cover the essence of Thailand from Northern Thai culture to southern beaches. All can be tailor-made to meet your time frame and unique requirements. Check them out for inspiration!
Yi Peng Festival, Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, and ethnic group culture, Chiang Mai has it all.