Loy Krathong – The Festival of Lights

In Bangkok: 19-21 November 2010, Nationwide: 17-21 November 2010

As the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (usually in mid-November) lights up the night sky, throughout Thailand, hundreds of thousands of ornately-decorated krathong or traditional banana leaf floats are set adrift in rivers and waterways in a spell-binding ritual called “Loy Krathong” — the festival of lights. This is one of the Kingdom’s oldest and best-preserved traditions.

The Loy Krathong tradition we know of today has evolved from the royal rituals of the early Rattanakosin period in which several types of lanterns were set afloat in the Chao Phraya River and its waterways.

Loy Krathong Sai on the Ping River
Night of a Thousand Floating Lanterns

In Tak province, the banana-leaf floats are replaced by coconut shells which are threaded together and launched simultaneously so they appear as long chains of hundreds of glittering lights on the Ping River, hence the origin of its name, “Loy Krathong Sai.”

Yi-Peng Festival in Northern Thailand
In the Northern Thai provinces that were once part of the ancient Lanna Thai kingdom, the Yi-peng Northern Lantern Festival is still being celebrated. Tubular lanterns, resembling hot air balloons, are lit and released into the night sky as an offering to the Lord Buddha. As hundreds of illuminated lanterns drift into infinity, this conjures the same sense of wistful closure as the krathong float downstream.

Loy Krathong - The Festival of Lights
Loy Krathong - The Festival of Lights

Share This Post