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Loy Krathong Lantern Festival 2024 in Sukhothai: Dates & Events

By CindyUpdated Dec. 7, 2023

Loy Krathong is one of Thailand's largest festivals and involves releasing floating lanterns called krathongs onto lakes and rivers to honor Buddha and the water goddess.

Sukhothai is one of the best places to experience the festival because it is the birthplace of the festival and holds the largest celebration, lasting for a number of days and nights.

When is Loy Krathong 2024 in Sukhothai?

The standard calendar date of Loy Krathong is not fixed as it depends on the Thai lunar calendar, but it usually falls in November.

In 2024, the actual date of Loy Krathong will be November 16th.

Sukhothai usually starts its celebrations several days before the actual day of the festival, so that, after attending Loy Krathong in Sukhothai, you have a chance to go to Chiang Mai's Yi Peng Festival, another famous Thailand lantern festival with flying lanterns on November 15th and 16th.

loy krathong festival in sukhothai

4 Reasons to Celebrate Loy Krathong in Sukhothai

There are plenty of reasons why you should visit Sukhothai during Loy Krathong.

1. Sukhothai holds the biggest celebration of Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand, with rich events usually lasting for ten days.

2. You'll get the most authentic Loy Krathong experience. Sukhothai is where locals are seen more than foreign visitors, and therefore you'd be experiencing more authentic Thai-ness than bigger touristy cities can offer.

3. Sukhothai has smaller crowds. The most famous places to celebrate Loy Krathong are Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Because most travelers head to these cities, Sukhothai has become the best place to celebrate for people who want to avoid the tourist crowds.

4. See floating lanterns surrounded by ancient monuments. All the beautiful temples and monuments of Sukhothai Historical Park once belonged to a great city, and together they make a beautiful 800-year-old backdrop for the floating lanterns and cultural performances.

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History of Loy Krathong in Sukhothai

Release your krathong and make a wish in Sukhothai

Sukhothai literally translates to "Dawn of Happiness" and was once its own independent kingdom as well as the formal capital city of Thailand. Sukhothai was established in the year 1238 and for a long time was a wealthy and thriving region.

According to the stories and legends of Loy Krathong, the festival began sometime around the 14th century with a woman named Nang Noppamas who was one of the consorts of the King of Sukhothai. The story starts with the members of the royal court and residents of the kingdom celebrating the water goddess on the night of the full moon in the 12th lunar month (November).

To impress the king, Noppamas created an intricate floating raft from banana leaves and flowers. She then set a candle and incense stick in the center and placed it on the water to honor Buddha and the water goddess. When the king saw this, he was so impressed by its beauty that he proclaimed the festival would be celebrated in the same way every year after.

Today, the Loy Krathong celebrations include a beauty contest where many women compete to earn the title of 'Nang Noppamas' every year.

Top Loy Krathong Events and Activities in Sukhothai

As the celebrations of Loy Krathong in Sukhothai last around a week, there are numerous events and activities you can attend while there. Below we've listed some of the ones that our travelers love the most.

The Loy Krathong events usually take place over five days and nights with several activities, most of which take place in Sukhothai's Historical Park (the old city). Highlights of the celebration include: floating of traditional lanterns, fireworks, folk dancing, and a spectacular light and sound show.

1. Enjoy the Light and Sound Show

The Light and Sound Show is a highlight of Sukhothai's Loy Krathong celebrations. It takes place in front of the beautiful Mahatha Temple courtyard.

Over 300 talented actors and dancers perform a show based on the history of Sukhothai and the legend of Loy Krathong. The show entirely lights up the Historical Park with its use of projection mapping onto the historical architecture. The performance is in Thai, but foreigners are given access to an English audio version.

At the end of the show, the night sky is lit up with an impressive firework show that illuminates the beautiful ruins in bursts of light.

If you want to see the show, tickets are 500 baht. You can purchase them from either the Sukhothai Tourist Office or from the ticket booth at the park entrance.

2. Join in the Parade

Another highlight of the festival is the long parade. You will see people from all the different districts of Sukhothai Province in their traditional attire, dancers, musicians, historical figures, the contestants of the beauty contest, lanterns, and krathongs. It is a great way to experience Thai culture.

3. See a Variety of Contests

Another part of the festival is the contests: beauty contests, singing and dancing contests, and also a contest for the best krathongs (floating lanterns).

4. Enjoy Plenty of Live Performances

There are many live performances around the park. There are several stages for live music, traditional Thai dance, Muay Thai, traditional Thai Puppet shows, fire shows (juggling, fire-eating...), etc.

5. Explore Sukhothai Village Market

You can explore the Sukhothai Village Market in the park. It is an ancient Thai market set, which would take you back to the old days of the first Thai kingdom, 700 years ago. Quality-crafted products and fabrics are put up for sale.

6. Make and Release Your Krathong

Loy Krathong Festival 2022 in Sukhothai

One of the best ways to get involved in the celebrations of Loy Krathong and really put your own touch on the ceremony is to make your own floating lantern. During a krathong-making class, you can learn how to fold the banana leaves to make a beautiful lotus-shaped krathong. You can also buy hand-made krathongs, between around 10 baht and 300 baht.

After the Light and Sound Show on the evening of Loy Krathong, you can head to one of the many lakes and ponds inside the Sukhothai Historical Park to release your floating lantern.

Releasing a floating lantern is meant to symbolize releasing all of the negative energy you've gathered over the previous year. Thai people also believe that krathongs honor the Buddha and the water goddess.

Typical Day-by-Day Event Schedule

The schedule for this year is yet announced. Here is the schedule for reference:

Day 1

An alms-giving ceremony called the "Dawn of Happiness Greeting" begins at sunrise for locals to offer dry food to monks at the Tra Pang Ngoen pond. Visitors are also welcome to bring offerings.

Day 2

A traditional Thai dance and music show is performed at night inside the Wat Mahachat. This is a great opportunity to enjoy classical Thai drama and have fun watching performers in their traditional costumes and make-up.

Day 3

This is when the celebrations start to really pick up inside the park with events happening all day. No matter when you visit you will see dances, plays, and martial arts performances. There are also souvenir and food stalls set up at the main entrance of the park that are worth exploring. You can also visit the Night Bazaar, a replica of what a market would have looked like during the time of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Day 4

This is the first night of the Light and Sound Show. Head into the Sukhothai Historical Park to enjoy the intricate dances and performances that will tell the story of Loy Krathong and the history of the Sukhothai Kingdom. After the show is over, enjoy the impressive fireworks display.

Day 5- Loy Krathong Day

This is the busiest day of events and normally falls on the actual day of Loy Krathong. This day is full of parades, processions, festival activities, a Light and Sound Show, and a large firework show. This is also the main day for releasing krathongs inside the historical park.

loy krathong festival in sukhothai

Where to Stay in Sukhothai

During Loy Krathong, accommodation can be both hard to find and expensive in Sukhothai. Hotel prices may go up to two to three times the usual. You are recommended to book your accommodation well in advance, especially if you intend to stay in Old Sukhothai near Historical Park.

It is worth booking a hotel near the park so that you don't have to endure the traffic.

Getting to and from Sukhothai

Located approximately halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Sukhothai is about 425 km (264 miles) north of Bangkok, and 300 km (186 miles) south of Chiang Mai. There are several ways to get there.

You can fly direct from Bangkok with Bangkok Airways in around an hour. It is the fastest option, yet also the most expensive.

You can also take a long-distance bus from Bangkok or Chiang Mai, which requires 5 to 7½ hours.

There is no train station in Sukhothai. It is possible to take a train to Phitsanulok, which is approximately 70 km from Sukhothai, and then a bus onward to Sukhothai.

The most convenient way is to book a private tour with a private transfer. Contact us if you need any suggestions or assistance.

Experience Loy Krathong Festival in Sukhothai

We have especially designed several tours including Loy Krathong Festival. Click the following tours for inspiration or tell us your requirements and we can tailor-make a tour for you.

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