Thailand Lantern Festivals, also known as the Thai Festivals of Lights, refer to two festivals in Thailand: Yi Peng Festival (also written as Yee Peng) and Loy Krathong Festival (also written as Loi Krathong). Both these festivals are known for creating beautiful displays of lights and take place on the same day.
Quick Facts about Thailand Lantern Festivals
- During the lantern festivals in Thailand, you will see two iconic scenes: swarms of sky lanterns flying into the night's sky — that is Yi Peng Lantern Festival; thousands of lotus-shaped baskets with candles and flowers floating on the rivers at night — that is Loy Krathong Festival.
- The two Thai lantern festivals usually occur on the full moon day in November. In 2022, Loy Krathong will take place on November 8 and Yi Peng will take place on November 8–9.
- Loy Krathong Festival is celebrated nationwide while Yi Peng is only celebrated in northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai.
- Chiang Mai is the only place where you can see both Thailand's lantern festivals on the same day.
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Yi Peng — Floating Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai
Yi Peng (or Yee Peng), known as Thailand's floating lantern festival, is celebrated in Northern Thailand. It is a Lanna festival with the largest celebrations held in Chiang Mai (the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom).
Yi means ‘two' while peng means ‘full moon day'. It is an annual festival celebrated on the full moon in the second month of the Lanna lunar calendar and usually falls in the month of November. It is believed that Yi Peng originated in India with the legend of the candle-carrying bird which once visited the Gautama Buddha.
The highlight of this festival is the numerous sky lanterns that are released and ‘float' up into the sky. So Yi Peng is also known as Thailand Sky Lantern Festival.
These sky lanterns are called khom loi in Thai, which means floating lanterns. The release of lanterns is believed to release negative energy and wish for good luck and good fortune in the coming year.
This year, CAD will be the only large Sky Lantern Mass Release venue in Chiang Mai. Yi Peng Lanna International (Mae Jo) will not hold a mass lantern release this year.
Loy Krathong Festival — Lights Festival, Water Lantern Festival
Loy Krathong Festival, known as Thailand Lights Festival, occurs on the night of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. It is celebrated to give thanks to the Godness of Water by releasing lotus-shaped baskets decorated with candles and flowers onto the rivers and waterways. It is also regarded as an annual celebration to mark the end of the rainy season and welcome the cool reason.
In Thai, loy means to float and a krathong is a small container. Loy Krathong literally means ‘to float a basket'. Krathong is traditionally made from banana leaves and a slice of the banana tree. Krathongs often contain a candle, incense sticks, and flowers.
On the night of the festival, Thai people make a wish as they launch their krathongs onto the rivers, canals, and lakes. Some people place hair and fingernails inside the krathong to symbolize letting go of their past mistakes and negative thoughts. It is a purification ceremony to enlighten the mind and bring good fortune.
Where to Celebrate Loy Krathong Lantern Festival
Chiang Mai is the best place to experience this Lantern Festival, although Loi Krathong (loy kra-tong) is celebrated all over Thailand. Sukhothai is a good place to go if you want a more local and cultural experience, and Bangkok is great for a quick trip to Thailand. If you don't want to deal with the crowds, head to Phuket and release your krathong out to sea. Loi Krathong is celebrated across Thailand as well as other countries in Southasian such as Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
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