LOY KRATHONG – THAILAND FLOATING FESTIVAL
Loy Krathong is an annual Thai festival held throughout the country. It is held in the 12th month of the Thai Lunar Calendar, on the night of the full moon, which usually occurs in November. This is a good time of year for a celebration, the main rice harvest seasons are over, so there’s now plenty of time to celebrate. While not an official public holiday, it is Thailand’s second most widely celebrated festival, after the Songkran Thai New Year celebration. Much like Thailand itself, Loy Krathong is a bit of a contrast between the countries traditionally conservative values and its modern day practice.
Historically Loy Krathong is a day where the Thai people make offerings in the form of ‘krathongs’ – a floating raft made of banana leaves, filled with candles, sparklers and other offerings, and then ‘loy’ (float) them down a river or canal. This floating of offerings down the river is seen as a way to release all the past years anger, resentment, indiscretions and start afresh. The decorations and offerings placed into the krathongs also act as an offering to the river gods, and are expected to bring good luck for the New Year. Additionally, Thais release floating lanterns made from rice paper and candles into the sky, making a wish and asking for merit for the coming year
On Loy Krathong day you can observe many things:
Where is Loy Krathong Celebrated?Loy Krathong is celebrated all over Thailand, with larger cities organizing more elaborate fireworks displays and parades.
Bangkok – Bangkok’s famous Chayopraya River is the place to be, with huge crowds gathering to float their krathongs. Fireworks light up the sky throughout the city. Be warned however, the Thai Government has recently announced a crackdown on the use of fireworks in the capital during the festival, although its not always enforced.
Sukothai – Said to be where Loy Krathong first originated, Sukothai is famous for its Loy Krathong celebrations, which last over several nights.
Chiang Mai – Well known for it’s beautiful and elaborate celebrations and festivals, Loy Krathong in Chiang mai is no exception. The festival has events scheduled over 4 days leading up to and after the full moon night. One of the most spectacular sights is the mass lanterns which are released in Mae Jo, located 13 km outside of the city centre. In Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand the festival is also referred to as Yi Peng.
How to ParticipateIf observing the spectacle of Loy Krathong isn’t enough, you can take part by buying your own krathongs from local shops and markets (or make your own if you prefer), and make an offering in any river or canal. Floating lanterns are also sold widely, from street vendors, markets and local shops.
If fireworks are more your style, many street vendors start stocking them leading up to Loy Krathong and can be purchased with no hassle. Be warned that government officials often release statements about cracking down on firework sales leading up to festivals in Thailand, so be careful.