Apart from Songkran water festival which is probably the first name to pop up in your mind when it comes to Thailand events, one that shouldn’t be missed out in your itinerary to this Golden Kingdom is the lantern festival, which can be known for different names such as Thailand paper lantern festival, floating lantern festival or festival of light.
Let’s go find out more about this popular event.
What is the lantern festival in Thailand?
Thailand lantern festival actually consists of two traditional ceremonies: Loi Krathong and Yi Peng, in which each has a unique method of celebration.
#1: What is Loi Krathong festival?
Loi Krathong, Loi Kratong or Loy Krathong (ลอยกระทง) is a festival held annually throughout Thailand on the full moon of the 12th month in Thai lunar calendar.
“Krathong” refers to the lotus-shaped baskets made of banana trunk and leaves, “Loi” means “to float”, so the Loy Krathong in Thailand simply mentions the tradition of making decorated baskets which are finally sent onto a river.
Loy Krathong festival history is very interesting. According to the old folklore, the rivers and the moon are believed to be at their fullest and brightest on the full moon of the 12th month, hence, Thai people consider it a perfect occasion to send their hand-made floats holding candles as well as gorgeous flowers down on the river to worship Thai Goddess of Water: Phra Mae Khongkha and make a wish for good fortune in the new year.
DID YOU KNOW?
In other countries, Loi Krathong can be referred to under different names such as “Tazaungdaing festival” (Myanmar), “Il Full Moon Poya” (Sri Lanka) and “Bon Om Touk” (Cambodia).
#2: What is Yi Peng festival?
Yi Peng or Yee Peng festival (ยี่เป็ง) refers to another different festival of light in Northern Thailand, which is Thailand sky lantern festival. Its celebration takes place annually on the full moon day in the 2nd month of the Lanna calendar, which is accordingly the 12th month of Thai lunar calendar. The date of this special occasion also explains the name Yi Peng itself as Yi and Peng means “2nd” and “full moon day” respectively in Thai.
During Yi Peng festival, the main activity would be to release swarms of brightly-lit paper lanterns called Khom Loi/Khom Loy or Khom Fai (โคมลอย) into the sky, forming an incredibly breath-taking scene.
This act is believed to help people not only let go of all illness and bad luck in the past year (by attaching small coins and strands of hair to the lantern before releasing it) but also make your wish come true as long as you do good deeds in the following year.
DID YOU KNOW?
Yi Peng festival usually coincides with the Loi Krathong mentioned above.
What you can expect to experience at Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festival?
Although Thailand Loi Krathong festival and Yi Peng/Yee Peng festival offer different ways of sending the lanterns, their other activities are quite alike. The detailed event agenda of each may vary from year to year. Basically, some highlighted activities can be mentioned below.
- Floating baskets decorated with lit candles and flower on the river at night (Loi Krathong only)
- Releasing swarms of brightly-lit lanterns into the sky (Yi Peng only)
- Colourful hanging lantern and flags on locals’ homes
- Traditional Thai costumes observation
- Buddhist ceremonies to purify your spirit
- Thai traditional dance shows, live performances and parade.
- Thai markets selling souvenirs, jewellery, clothes, handicrafts and delicious local fruits and snacks.
- Beauty pageants.
- Beautiful fireworks
DID YOU KNOW?
Agenda of lantern festival in Thai is officially announced by TAT – The Tourism Authority of Thailand few months before the celebration.
When is the lantern festival in Thailand?
In order to enjoy all the activities that these events offer, it is imperative for you to know the exact time when Loi Krathong and Yi Peng happen:
#1: When is Loi Krathong festival?
Loi Krathong day is on the full moon of the 12th month (Thai lunar calendar) (Check the moon phase here).
#2: When is Yi Peng festival?
Yi Peng day is on the full moon day in the 2nd month (Lanna calendar) (Check the moon phase here).
Although each festival is based on a different calendar, Yi Peng usually takes place alongside with Loi Krathong, forming a large and fascinating festival of lights across the nation. Generally, this huge lantern festival of Thailand often lasts for three days and its exact full-moon date in the Western calendar is subject to change every year, yet usually falls in November.
You may want to check Thailand lantern festival dates in the following table for better preparation:
DID YOU KNOW?
It is worth noting that Thailand festival of lights 2020 is expected to have the full-moon date on Oct 31 in the Western calendar.
Where to watch lantern festival in Thailand?
Knowing what and when to enjoy is not enough, you also need to plan the places ahead to ensure an unforgettable experience during the event.
Loi Krathong is celebrated nationwide and the most exciting destinations to enjoy this floating lights festival are Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai
Followed are suggested locations in each province for you to join this annual festival of light:
Chao Phraya riverside
Wat Saket riverside
Sukhothai Historical Park
Mae Jo University
Hope that this article can give you a glimpse into the big floating lantern event in Thailand. To sum up, you can find some highlights of Yi Peng and Loy Krathong lantern festivals in the table below:
Fun fact: Thailand is not the only country with the amazing annual festival of lights, if you would like to experience another cool version of this event, let check out other popular sky lantern festivals in Asia.