The Thai Festival of Lights, Loy Krathong, is one of the most significant festivals celebrated in Thailand. The beauty of the ceremony can be witnessed when people gather in masses around lakes, rivers, and canals to float lanterns in open water as a sign of respect for the goddess of water, aka Pra Mae Khongkha, and Buddha.
The Thai people celebrate Loy Krathong as per the Thai lunar calendar. Although the date varies from year to year, this event typically occurs in early November, according to the new calendar. It signifies a time for happiness, gratitude, and fresh beginnings.
What happens at the festival
Loy means "to float," and krathong means" different kinds of small, floating religious offerings." The krathongs floated over small and large bodies of water around the nation are the festival's main attraction, symbolic of its name. Many Thai people thank the water goddess for their good fortune of having access to water and beg pardon for wasting or polluting it.
With the times changing, many people now purchase krathongs from local shops however, traditionally, these were a community event with friends and family crafting them together.
The tops of the krathongs are often formed of banana leaves and then covered in burning incense and lit candles.
Everyone reaches temples or canals at night for religious ceremonies and the release of the krathongs. As each candle-lit krathong makes its way down whichever body of water it finds itself on, it carries a prayer, a memory, or a wish.
Best Place to witness Loy Krathong
Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Bangkok, and Phuket are the best locations in Thailand to witness the Loy Krathong festivities.
Bangkok has its own customs and celebrations during Loy Krathong. The festival takes place here at the Chao Phraya River alongside several other events. The celebrations can be enjoyed by taking a riverboat to experience the scenic beauty of the lit-up waters. A popular site to see Loy Krathong's festivities is the Asiatique shopping mall. You can also release krathongs on the Chao Phraya River by visiting the well-known temples of Wat Arun, Wat Saket, Wat Pariwat, or Wat Yannawa.
If you wish to take in the splendour of Loy Krathong without being surrounded by the usual festival crowd, head to Phuket. Here, it is a much more relaxed celebration, and most hotels and resorts provide instructions on how to make your own krathong and assist you in releasing it into the ocean. The most prominent spots are Patong Beach, and Nai Harn Beach. You can also visit Kata Beach, Karon Beach, Saphan Hin Park, or Suan Luang Park in Phuket for a more authentic experience.
Sukhothai is said to be the place where the festival is supposed to originate from. The festivities take place here over five days, with floating lanterns, parades, traditional music performances, beauty pageants, and the beautiful Sukhothai light and sound show.
The second-largest city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai, also hosts the beautiful Yi Peng Festival (the Thailand Sky Lantern Festival) alongwith the Loy Krathong festival. The entire city turns into a breathtaking view with the Loy Krathong lanterns on the river and the flying lanterns of Yi Peng magnificently scattered over the night sky. It's a sight you definitely can not miss.