Loy krathong is a famous Thai festival held annually on the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai Lunar calendar, normally falling in November. It’s a time honoured tradition celebrated throughout the entire country and has been celebrated for hundreds of years, passed down from generation to generation. The Loy Krathong festival typically consists of ornately decorated floating rafts (Krathong) illuminated with candles which are then sent down rivers, lakes, canals, the sea or any body of water. The releasing of the Krathongs is known as a symbol of the individual letting their year’s bad luck and misfortune drift away in preparation for a new year of good luck.
Although Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout all of Thailand there’s a few regions that take this Thai festival to the next level and have been noted as featuring the most spectacular and unique Loy Krathong displays. Specifically Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Sukhothai, Tak and Ayutthaya are all well known for their version of Loy Krathong celebrations with each area having its own unique style of celebrating the Thai festival. As we all know it’s impossible to be in all five places at once, so here’s a general description of each region’s celebrations to help you decide the best place to spend Loy Krathong!
In Chiang Mai, the Loy Krathong festival coincides with the regional festival of Yi Peng. Yi Peng is a traditional Thai festival dating back to the old Lanna kingdom. Like Loy krathong, Yi Peng allows participants to let their year’s bad luck and misfortune drift away, only into the sky! This, in combination with Loy Krathong’s water themed celebrations makes for a truly awe inspiring display of light, tradition and Thai culture both on the water and in the sky.
If you’re in Bangkok, why not experience Loy Krathong the way the locals do at the Asiatique riverside night market? Celebrations there involve several key events, the main ones being held at the large boardwalk in front of Asiatique. The festivities involve lots of music shows and even some more traditional Loy Krathong festival displays; such as traditional Krathong preparation (you can try making your very own Krathong!) as well as floating Krathong processions and stunning fireworks displays.
Another popular venue for this Thai festival in Bangkok is by the riverbanks of the Chao Phraya river, specifically between the Krung Thep bridge and the Krung Thon bridge. There’s nothing like celebrating the Loy Krathong festival with Bangkok’s famous historical temples and palaces as a backdrop! Vendors line the streets all the way to the riverbanks where crowds wait patiently for boats to ferry them out so that they can launch their Krathongs mid-stream.
Known locally as Loy Krathong Phao Thein Len Fai, the Loy krathong festival in the historical town of Sukhothai is spread over 5 days and involves many events along with contests and markets, apart from typical Loy Krathong celebrations. Events take place both during the day and the night time and locals and foreigners alike are invited to participate. The highlights of the Loy Krathong festival in Sukhothai include:
More than enough to keep anyone busy and a must for lovers of Thai culture and history!
The Loy Krathong festival in Tak is known as Loy Krathong Sai. Like other regions the majority of the celebrations typically focus around the river banks, in this case the Ping river. One of the things that makes Loy Krathong Sai in Tak so unique is the way the Krathongs are prepared. Rather than construct them out of Styrofoam, baked bread or banana leaves locals in Tak make theirs out of coconut shells! The shells are filled with wax to keep the wick in place, effectively turning the whole Krathong into a giant floating candle. One of the highlights of the Loy Krathong festival is the competition held amongst the local community. Teams of villagers help each other thread coconut Krathongs together and launch them down the river in a candlelit chain, creating an exceptionally beautiful display of light. The spirit of the competition is kept light and cheerful, since any team who’s chain of Krathongs makes it down the river wins a trophy!
The Loy Krathong Krung Kao festival in Ayutthaya is spread over 3 days. It’s a celebration in the old style of Ayutthaya and the main events take place in the Thung Phukhao Thong area, right beside the King Naraesuan the Great memorial statue. The highlights of these events include the hanging lantern competition featuring beautiful, ornately designed hanging lanterns, the Miss Noppamas International Beauty contest, the Noppamas Kids contest and several musical and cultural performances; as well as the various markets. The sprawling markets held during the Loy Krathong festival are a paradise for food lovers and bargain hunters alike and worth a visit in themselves!
The above are just 5 of the most popular places to celebrate Loy Krathong in Thailand. Each and every place is different, for example in Koh Samui Krathongs are launched right off the beach! Regardless of where you might be during this Thai festival, you’re sure to have a magical and mesmerising experience creating memories to last a lifetime!
Photo by Tourism Authority of Thailand – TATNEWS.org.