Loy Krathong is a festival that is celebrated throughout Thailand. However, in Chiang Mai, it coincides with the Lanna festival of Yee Peng (local name) so there are two beautiful festivals happening during the same week... what a delightful holiday!
As the full moon lights up the night sky of November, throughout the city of Chiang Mai, hundreds of floats drift down the rivers and lanterns are seen everywhere. This is Loy Krathong and Yee Peng time, two famous events in Northern Thailand.
Loy Krathong festival generally takes place over one or two nights everywhere in Thailand. In Chiang Mai, merging with Yee Peng festival, it turns into a three-day festival. This year, the event will take place from November 9 to 13, 2019.
The celebration, known in Chiang Mai as Yee Peng, literally means the full moon of the second month. The festival features illuminated lanterns, which are either carried, displayed in houses and temples, and even launched into the night sky. There are four main kinds of illuminated lanterns, which are handmade in the northern city.
Apart from the lanterns celebrations, Chiang Mai also celebrates the floating festival. Loy Krathong is one of the most scenic festivals of Thailand, which is celebrated across the country at a time when the water levels are the highest after the rainy season. Krathongs are small decorated floats about 20 centimetres in diameter. Traditionally they are made from the leaves and trunk of the banana tree. The rafts are decorated with flowers, a candle and an incense stick. People often leave a small coin in their krathong, and occasionally they will place a lock of hair or even nail clippings. On the night of the full moon, people will light the candle and the joss stick, say a prayer, and float their krathong down the river.
You will find plenty of these beautiful Krathongs for sale along rivers and klongs. Some are even made of bread, which will feed the fish in the water. If you happen to find beautiful floats made of foam, please do not buy them; let’s be good to our earth and mother-water!
During the three days of the festival, the city of Chiang Mai is covered in lights. Interestingly, the city still uses candles to light the majority of the lanterns. To begin the festival, university students light candles along the moat, around the old city. The walls around the old city are then lit up with hundreds and hundreds of small candles.
The Loy Krathong Festival in Chiang Mai also includes dazzling parades. On the night of 12 November, giant illuminated krathongs are paraded with candidates for the upcoming beauty contest perched on top. This parade is an enthralling spectacle for all ages. Starting around sunset, many groups line up in traditional costumes with bands of flutes and drums blasting away with fun and entertaining music. This parade features giant illuminated krathongs, on top of which are perched attractive candidates for the upcoming beauty contest. Everyone can view this parade for free by lining up along the main road and watch highly decorated floats as they pass by. The parade goes from Wat Thapae Gate to the Chiang Mai Provincial Municipality - passing
through Thapae gate and Thapae Road. It starts around 6 pm. until late at night and finishes with a magnificent firework display over the Ping river.
List of the events not to be missed during Loy Krathong Chiang Mai:
Loy Krathong festival generally takes place over one or two days. In Chiang Mai, Yee Peng turns into a three day festival. The focus of celebrations in Chiang Mai is around Chiang Mai Municipality and Nawarat Bridge that connects Tha Pae Road on the western side of the river with Charoen Muang Road on the other side.
- A few days before Loy Krathong (9 November): colorful lanterns exhibitions are set at on Thapae Gate, the 3 kings monument and at each city gate.
- In the days just before the festival many temples begin hanging lanterns and decorating entrance doors with banana leaves.
On day 1 (10 November) :
- Ceremonies and offerings are held at the White Chedi, near Chiang Mai Municipality, to thank the Ping River and ask for its forgiveness.
- 18.30 to 19.00: see the opening ceremony of “Chiang Mai Yee Peng Festival” at Thapae Gate.
- 18.30 to 22.00: Lantern Parade at the Night Bazaar, with traditional lantern contest and cultural performances. All night on Night bazaar Street.
On day 2 (11 November) :
- 09.00-15.30: Loy Krathong Boat Race, on Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
- 09.00-12.00: Hot Air Balloon Contest (small) by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
- 09.00-17.00 Handmade Krathong Contest by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
- 18.00-24.00: Mister and Miss Yee Peng Contest at Thapae Gate.
- 19.00-21.00: Floating of Lanna candlelit Krathongs at Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
- 19.00-21.00: Fireworks display Ping River by the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality On day 3 (12 November) :
- 18.00-24.00 : Grand Krathong Parade from Thapae Gate to the Office of Chiang Mai Municipality.
Loy Krathong - where to go:
In addition to the previous schedule featuring the mesmerising Loy Krathong parade, there are some other very beautiful places and more quiet places where to go and witness this enchanting festival.
One of the more quiet and relaxing venues to float your krathong is the temple Wat Chai Mongkol, situated on Chareonprathet Road, along Ping River. This temple has a concrete landing on the river, where devotees can easily launch their krathongs. As it is in a temple, the celebration is much more spiritual and quieter for kidsand elderly people.
Another favorite place to go is Phan Thao temple, located in the old city, next to Chedi Luang temple. Each year this temple organizes one of the most stunning celebrations, and it is a favorite place for photographers.
For a wonderful diner with the perfect view, join in The River Market’s Buffet for Loy Krathong: the evening will be just perfect with great food, romantic atmosphere, view over the river, private parking space, entertainment and fireworks (reservation, call: 053-234 493).
The different kinds of illuminated lanterns:
In the north of Thailand there are four different kinds of illuminated lantern or Khom. They are made of paper, but often contain a bamboo cylinder inside it to protect the paper from the heat of the candle. Firstly, there is he Khom Theua or carrying lantern; locals will carry this lantern with them on the Loy Kratong parade. Later it will be taken to the temple and used to decorate the temple buildings.
Secondly, there is the Khom Kwaen (hanging lantern), which is offered to pay respects to the Buddha. They are made in four shapes: the star, the alms bowl, the basket and the wheel.
Thirdly, there is the Khom Paad. This one revolves on a vertical axis, the heat from the candle spinning a wheel. This circular shaped lantern will often feature the twelve signs of the horoscope. This type of lantern can only be placed within the temple gates.
Finally, there is the famous Khom Loy. This lantern is actually a small hot air balloon, and the most famous of them all. Nevertheless, you should know that releasing this kind of hot air balloon has increased dramatically over the last years and can be dangerous. Fires on roof tops have occurred on houses where the balloons have fallen. In addition, airline flights have been disrupted due to the floating hazards. So there are now government regulations restricting release of the balloons to Tuesday November 12 from 9pm to midnight, along the Ping river from Nawarat Bridge to the Rattanakosin Bridge).