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What is Loy Krathong Festival? - Meaning, Traditions & Places

What is Loy Krathong Festival? - Meaning, Traditions & Places

By CindyUpdated Jan. 6, 2023

Loy Krathong or Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง), known as Thailand's Festival of Lights, is one of the biggest festivals in Thailand. In 2023, it will take place on November 28th.  

Find out everything you need to know about Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand including when it will take place this year, why people celebrate Loy Krathong, and how to celebrate it.

What is Loy Krathong Festival? 

Loy Krathong Festival is an annual traditional Siamese festival celebrated by Thais to pay respect to the Goddess of Water and the Buddha. 

It is not a public holiday but is celebrated nationwide when people gather around lakes, rivers, and canals to release floating lanterns or Krathongs on waterways.    

releasing a krathong on loi krathong festival A Thai woman is releasing a krathong.

When is Loy Krathong Festival celebrated?

Loy Krathong Festival is celebrated on the evening of the 12th full moon of the Thai lunar calendar. It usually falls in the month of November, according to the Western calendar.  Therefore, the Loy Kratong date is not fixed. It changes every year depending on the full moon. 

In 2023, it will take place on the evening of 28th November. Find out how the Loy Krathong date is determined and how long the Loy Krathong festival lasts.

What is the meaning of Loy Krathong?

The word loy in Thai means 'to float' and krathong translates to 'basket or boat', so the meaning of Loy Krathong is ‘float a basket'.

krathong is a small lotus-shaped boat traditionally made from banana leaves and decorated with flowers. In the center of the Krathong, there are traditionally 3 sticks of incense and a lit candle, and other things like hair and coins. 

As its name implies, on the evening of the festival, Thai people gather around rivers, lakes, and canals to release lotus-shaped baskets. See more information about Krathong.

loy krathong festival

Why is Loy Krathong celebrated?

Loy Krathong, which originated in the ancient Sukhothai Kingdom around 800 years ago, is celebrated to pay respect to and thank the Goddess of Water (called Pra Mae Khongkha) for a year's worth of her abundant supply, ask for an apology for polluting the waters, and pay respect to the Buddha.

Nowadays, it is also a way to get rid of negativity gathered during the previous year and welcome good fortune in the coming year. Learn more about the origin of the Loy Krathong Festival

How do people celebrate Loy Krathong Festival today?

Traditionally Thai people will begin the festival by making their Krathongs at home with friends and family, although many do also buy them from local shops.

At nightfall, everyone heads to waterways or temples where religious rituals will take place and the Krathongs are released.

Today, Loy Krathong is celebrated across Thailand. The festival includes firework shows, competitions to build the largest and most extravagant Krathongs, and beauty competitions called Noppamas Queen Contests.

Take advantage of the most competitive tour with an awesome sky-lantern-release experience and Chiang Mai highlights

Where to celebrate Loy Krathong Festival?

Loy Krathong is celebrated across Thailand and nearby countries such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.

Of all the celebrations of the Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand, certain cities hold celebrations on a much larger scale. The best places to go to experience the Loy Krathong Festival are Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Bangkok, and Phuket. 

1. Chiang Mai: Two Festivals in One

loy krathong yi peng in chiang mai

Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in northern Thailand and is also the best place to go for a Loy Krathong Festival experience. Besides having Loy Krathong celebrations, the city also holds another magnificent festival called Yi Peng Festival (Thailand Sky Lantern Festival) on the same day.

In 2023, Loy Krathong and Yee Peng will take place over the dates of 27th - 28th November.

With the floating lanterns of Loy Krathong on the river and the flying lanterns of Yi Peng dotting the night sky, Chiang Mai becomes a breathtaking scene that looks like something out of a fairytale. Witnessing these two festivals is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you don't want to miss.

The tickets for the famous Chiang Mai CAD Khomloy Sky Lanterns Festival 2023 are on sale now.  Asia Highlights is the official partner of Chiang Mai CAD. We're glad to help you book a ticket for a mass lantern release.

See How to Best Experience Loy Krathong & Yi Peng Festival in Chiang Mai

2. Sukhothai: the Birthplace of Loy Krathong

loy krathong festival in sukhothai park The celebration of Loy Krathong in Sukhothai park

Sukhothai is the birthplace of the Loy Krathong Festival and is one of the best places to experience this joyful festival. The festival in Sukhothai is celebrated for five days. Most festival events are held in the Sukhothai Historical Park

In addition to the floating lanterns, in Sukhothai, you can experience a beauty contest, parades, folk music performances, and the gorgeous Sukhothai light and sound show. See more information about Loy Krathong in Sukhothai

3. Bangkok: Events Alongside Chao Phraya River

Loy Krathong celebration

If you only have time to visit Bangkok during the festival, don't feel too bad for not being able to go to Chiang Mai or Sukhothai. Bangkok celebrates Loy Krathong with its own style and activities.

Loy Krathong Festival 2023 Bangkok in the name "Festival of colors Loy Krathong Festival" might be held during 26-28 November 2023 at Santichaiprakarn Park with many interesting activities. 

During the festival, many events take place on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Taking a cruise on the river is a romantic way to enjoy the festival.

The Asiatique shopping center is a good place to experience Loy Krathong events in Bangkok. Here, there are many bars and well-decorated stalls that illuminate the street and the river areas. 

 You can also visit the famous temples of Wat Arun, Wat Saket, Wat Pariwat, or Wat Yannawa to release Krathongs into the Chao Phraya River.

Learn more about the best places to go for Loy Krathong in Bangkok.

In only 10 days, enjoy Thailand’s Lantern Festival celebrations as well as plenty of beach relaxation and culture exploration:

4. Phuket: Combine Loy Krathong with Beach Relaxation

make krathong to attend loy krathong festival

Phuket is a great place to go for travelers who want to experience the beauty of Loy Krathong while avoiding the typical festival crowd. In Phuket, Loy Krathong is a much more laid-back event and most hotels and resorts offer classes on making your own Krathong and help you release it out to sea.

The festival is celebrated on all waterways and beaches including Patong Beach and Nai Harn Beach. If you are looking for a more local experience, you can head to Kata Beach, Karon Beach, Saphan Hin Park, or Suan Luang Park in Phuket Town. This is where most of the local Thai people gather to release their krathongs and celebrate.

Learn more about how to celebrate Loy Krathong in Phuket.

The Best Southeast Asia Tour for First-timers

What is the difference between Loy Krathong Festival and Yi Peng Festival?

The major difference is that during Loy Krathong, raft-like lanterns (called Krathong) made from banana leaves are released to float on rivers and lakes whereas during Yi Peng bamboo paper lanterns (called Khom Loi) are released into the sky. 

Loy Krathong is celebrated all across Thailand while Yi Peng is celebrated mainly in northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai. 

yi peng festival Yi Peng Festival
loy krathong festival Loy Krathong Festival

Experience Loy Krathong Festival with Asia Highlights

If you would like to experience the Loy Krathong Festival, please feel free to contact us at Asia Highlights. From the moment you arrive, we will have everything prepared for you including your transportation, hotels, meals, and festival ceremony entrance tickets. We can customize your festival experience to suit your pace, taste, and schedule.

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