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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 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).
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.
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: 13th November (Yi Peng Festival begins on 11th November and ends on 13th November)
2020: 1st November
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.
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 (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.
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.
Chiang Mai, Yi Peng Festival 2018 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 2018 (or known as Mae Jo University Lantern Release 2018) 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 2018. 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.
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 (September 30,2018): we already closed ticket booking.
Update (September 25,2018): we will close ticket booking on 30 September. There are only very few tickets of Yi Peng Lantern Festival at Cowboy Army Riding Club available (22 Nov and 23 Nov).
Update (September 14,2018): our ticket of Mass Release at Maejo University on 22 November is sold out.
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!
This trip includes the essence of Thailand and everything that you need for this big event!