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In 2018, Loy Krathong falls on Friday, November 23rd. It is a light festival （or 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.
On the same day, another light festival, called Yi Peng, is celebrated 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.
Loy Krathong is usually celebrated on the evening of the full moon on the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In 2017, it falls on 3rd November.
Subsequent festival dates (these dates may change):
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
The grand ceremony is held in Lanna Dhutanka Buddhist Center, about 1 hour drive from the Chiang Mai old town. The event starts in the late afternoon, at about 5 p.m. Once you have booked your seat with an authorized seller, you will be picked up from your hotel by a minivan at about 2.30 p.m.
A typical schedule of Yi Peng:
To gain access to the Buddhist Center, visitors need to buy an entrance ticket. The tickets are sold out as soon as they are released, and almost all of them are collected by local agencies. For visitors who want to join in the festival, we suggest that you book the ticket package with an authorized agency via the online platform.
Three types of tickets are available for the 2017 Yi Peng Festival:
Remember to check out what is included in your ticket package before booking.
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.
The festival is usually crowded: a few useful tips will help you enjoy it to the full.
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