Chiang Mai Loy Krathong Festival
Loi Krathong (ลอยกระทง) is a festival that is celebrated in Thailand, Laos and some other places in Southeast Asia that have a Thai or Tai heritage. The Loy Krathong festival takes place on the evening of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. That date changes every year. In 2018 the dates are November 21, 22 and 23. Loy Krathong usually fall in the month of November. In Chiang Mai it last three days. The first day is the lantern festival, the second day is the full moon day. On all three days there are parades that pass through Thapae Road. Loy Krathong is not an official public holiday in Thailand. Most activities take place after dark.
The history of the Loy Krathong Festival is rather obscure. Some people claim that the tradition of Loy Krathong originates in Sukhothai and was first organized by a court lady called Nopphamat. Others believe it was a Brahmanic festival that was adapted by Thai buddhist to honor the Buddha. Anyway, the ritual of Loy Krathong is about paying respect to the Goddess of the Water showing gratitude for the plentiful use of water and ask for forgiveness in the ensuing pollution. It is also about getting ride of misfortune and bad things that happened in the past and asking for good luck in the future. For this people float a “krathong” in the river.
The meaning of Loy Krathong
What does Loy Krathong mean? The verb Loy (ลอย) means to float. Krathong has various meanings. In this case it is small container or basket made of banana leaves, adorned with flowers, incense and candles. Loy Krathong means “to float a basket” which is what many people do during the festival on one of the three days. On many river or canal locations makeshift bamboo construction or steps are constructed to allow people to approach the water. Near these places food and drink sellers gather and local people sell their housemade krathongs to revellers. Each year the Loi Krathong Festival features activities at various venues throughout Chiang Mai such as boat races on the Mae Ping River, a lantern procession and contest, a beauty contest, and Krathong parades and contests.
In North Thailand the Loy Krathong Festival coindices with the Lanna festival called Yee Peng or Yi Peng. That makes experiencing the festival in Chiang Mai extra special. Yee Peng is all about lanterns. The day before Loy Krathong is called Yee Peng but during the three days you will find lanterns everywhere. Houses and temples are decorated with lanterns and on the evening of the first day there is a stunning lantern parade in Chiang Mai. The most stunning though used to be the hundreds of sky lanterns that were released. There used to be a mass release of sky lanterns near Mae Jo University. In recent years there has been a crackdown on releasing sky lanterns because of the danger to air traffic. There is no mass release anymore. Releasing sky lanterns is only allowed during set hours on the full moon night. This law is strictly enforced. There are a couple of commercial small scale sky lantern events that include a dinner. Please check with us.