Date: 14 November 2016
Nearly all visitors to Thailand agree that in this land of festivals, it is Loi Krathong that stands out as the most charming. This water-based celebration falls on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month and in the evening, people head out to the kingdom’s waterways, rivers and ponds to launch their krathongs. These are candlelit floats, made from the stalk of banana plants and decorated with incense, offerings, flowers and candles. They are then floated out onto the water as a way of paying respect to the water spirits to thank them for their bounty. Some people argue that the festival is held to apologise to rivers and streams for pollution and for their use of water over the year.
The annual ceremony is a time of special celebration in Thailand. The rains have mostly ended gone and the weather is cool, so people take the chance to get out for the evening, socialise and enjoy many fun activities as well as making and floating krathongs. So there are also beauty contests, performances of traditional music and dance, and dramatic firework displays as well as temple fairs held nationwide. It is a great time to see Thai people at their most fun loving while enjoying a genuinely beautiful spectacle.
This year, the Loi Krathong festival falls on 14 November and there are a range of celebrations going on up and down the kingdom.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has picked out six (6) places around Thailand where unique local ways of celebrating Loi Krathong offer a fun look at the different culture in various parts of the kingdom.
1: Bangkok – In the Thai capital, it is the mighty Chao Phraya River that naturally is the centre of the Loi Krathong celebration. Many families head to the river’s banks to join the fun and celebrations before eating together and watching the city firework displays. But for visitors, the TAT in cooperation with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and several public and private agencies, stages a grand Loi Krathong event at several riverside venues.
At Santi Chaiprakarn Park in the heart of the old city, visitors will learn about the history of Loi Krathong and see performers and characters in traditional Thai costumes taking part in traditional activities against the glorious backdrop of the Rattanakosin temples. There is the chance to make krathongs, try traditional food and enjoy the atmosphere of the charming riverside park. The highlight of the event is the illuminated boat procession up the River of Kings that sees seven beautifully illuminated boats head up to the Rama 8 Bridge nightly and lighting up the river. The event will take place daily from 12-14 November, 2016, from 17.00-22.00 Hrs.
The River Festival 2016 – This event has been cancelled. Hosted by Thai Beverage, will be held at seven unique spots along the Chao Phraya river including four temples – Wat Arun Ratchawararam, Wat Chetupon Wimonmangkhlaram, Wat Prayurawongsawas, and Wat Kalayanamit Woramahawihan – and three other riverside attractions – Tha Maharat, Yodpiman Riverwalk, and lifestyle mall, Asiatique the River Front. Each venue will feature displays and acts that showcase the Thai way of life as well as cultural performances. There will also be free boat services will be available on two routes: the Yodpiman Riverwalk – Asiatique route; and the Yodpiman-Tha Tien (Wat Pho)-Tha Maharat-Wat Arun-Wat Prayurawongsawas route to enable revelers to vist several locations. The event will take place daily from 12-14 November, 2016, from 17.00-22.00 Hrs.
For more information, please contact TAT Call Centre 1672
2: Sukhothai – In many ways this is the spiritual home of the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand so the celebrations here are the biggest. The Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival 2016 will take place in the Sukhothai Historical Park in Tambon Mueangkao, Mueang district, where there will be a highly impressive light and sound show that tells the story of this lovely festival of lights in spectacular fashion. There are many other activities to enjoy over several days from 10 to 14 November including a recreation of an ancient Sukhothai market and traditional Thai ways of life in the kingdom, fireworks, a Krathong competition, various beauty pageants, and performances of Thai classical music and dance, which are enhanced by the unique historic setting.
For more information, please contact TAT Sukhothai Office at Tel. +66 (0) 5561 6228 – 9
3: Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival 2016
Yi Peng, which is sometimes called the Lantern Festival, is the North’s unique version of Loi Krathong, with the biggest celebrations taking place in the city of Chiang Mai. On the full moon night, revellers release krathongs into the local rivers and city canals as they do nationwide, but here the festival is airborne too.
In the past, ‘Khom Loi’ (lit lanterns) were released in the hundreds into the sky above the town, creating a spectacular panorama of flaming new stars. The ceremony was partly religious with local monks chanting prayers as the paper lanterns rose majestically into the night sky. Recent years have actually seen the practice of releasing lanterns being discouraged fearing the lanterns could be a danger to air traffic or pose a fire hazard as the lanterns return to earth. But Yi Peng still offers plenty of colour and fun, even without the full aerial displays.
The Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival 2016 will be celebrated from 12-15 November with the old Tha Phae Gate being the centre of the action. This year, there will be a krathong parade contest to win the Royal Trophy of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Other activities include colourful krathong contests vibrant musical performances, beauty pageants, traditional dances, lantern-making contests, fireworks, and lots and lots of food, as you’d expect in Chiang Mai.
For more information, please contact TAT Chiang Mai Office at Tel: +66 (0) 0 5324 8604 – 5
4: Tak Loi Krathong Sai Festival 2016 – The Loi Krathong celebrations in Tak each year are very special and differ from those found in the rest of the country. This is because rather than individual krathongs, the locals work together to make a floating thread of krathongs made from coconut shells. Up to a thousand of these can be joined together and gently floated out onto the Ping River by the famous Rattanakosin Memorial Bridge. It’s quite a sight to see these lights stretching out into the dark waters.
The festival will this year take from 12-17 November and as well as the Krathong display, there will be a light-and-sound presentation, fireworks displays and several cultural performances and contests.
For more information, please contact TAT Tak Office at Tel. +66 (0) 5551 4341 – 3
5: Ayutthaya Loi Krathong Tam Prathip Festival 2016 – The Bangsai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre is the centre of Loi Krathong celebrations in Ayutthaya though there are many venues in the ancient capital where you can buy and float krathongs on the waterways. This year, the main celebrations are scheduled to take place from (Dates to be advised) and there will be a range of events to enjoy including: Miss Nopphamat, or beauty queen contests, traditional music competitions; a floating market, colourful fireworks display, and art and cultural performances throughout the five-day event.
For more information, please contact the Bangsai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre at Tel. +66 (0) 3536 6252 – 4
6: Samut Songkram: Kab Kluay Mueang Maeklong Festival 2016 – In Samut Songkhram Province, the celebrations of Loi Krathong centre on King Rama II Memorial Park, and tourists in the region come here to make their own krathongs and float them down the river in their thousands. There are always contests for the most beautiful Krathong and a procession of illuminated boats with the winners receiving the Royal Trophy of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Everyone interested in Thailand’s unique culture should head to Samut Songkram this year as there are many Thai folk shows, a traditional Noppamas beauty pageant and the chance to make merit by, giving alms to Buddhist monks as they paddle boats down the river.
For more information, please contact TAT Samut Songkram Office at Tel. +66 (0) 3475 2847 – 8
The Loi Krathong 2016 celebrations in other locations up and down Thailand
Ratchaburi Loi Krathong Si and Loi Krathong Sai Mon – The local people of Ratchaburi province have their own special way of celebrating Loi Krathong, and it’s well worth seeing, as it evokes Thailand of yesteryear. The local Mon people of the province see the festival as a way of making merit and paying respect to the temples and Buddha images of the region. So on Loi Krathong night, they light the candle around the temples’ bot and viharn buildings before floating krathongs made from colourful paper, down the local river. The main celebrations take place at Wat Sai Areerak on Chokchai Road in the Photharam district. Another venue for Ratchaburi Loi Krathong celebrations is Wat Ban Muang in the Ban Pong district where visitors can enjoy the traditional Mon style of Loi Krathong Sai, along with other activities such as Junior Noppamas beauty contest and cultural shows that teach about Mon culture.
For more information, please contact TAT Phetchburi Office at Tel. +66 (0) 3247 1005 – 6