During November Thailand celebrates not one, but two stunning festivals of light – Loy Krathong and Yi Peng. 

Loy Krathong

The facts:

  • Celebrated on the twelfth full moon of the Thai Lunar Calendar
  • In 2019, this festival is celebrated on 11th November
  • Many parts of Southeast Asia take part in this festival
  • This celebration sees Krathong (floating lanterns) released into canals and rivers
  • This festival is free for all to attend

What is a Krathong?

A Krathong is a lotus-shaped vessel, created from banana tree leaves and its trunk. The carving is decorated with leaves and flowers, candles and incense are also placed in the centre of the lantern before it drifts off along the water. 


Krathong - Mercury Holidays

History of Loy Krathong: 

In Thai, Loy means ‘to float’, so the use of the lotus-shaped boats are apt for this celebration. During this festival people take their Krathong to rivers and canals, ignite the candles and incense, and make a wish before placing their Krathong into the water. 

The people of Thailand believe that the Krathong banishes their sins and bad luck of the current year. The ritual of releasing the boat into the water lets go of misfortune and invites positivity and prosperity for the coming year. 


Loy Krathong - Thailand - Festivals of light in Thailand

Additional fact: 

Loy Krathong is also regarded as Valentine’s Day in Thailand. When a couple releases their Krathong into the the river, they make a wish to stay together forever. 

In the past, young men and women didn’t have the opportunity to meet, except during religious events. Nowadays, some couples use their Krathong to make predictions about the future marriage or family; they believe that if their Krathongs float away together, they will be together forever. 


Couples during Loy Krathong

Yi Peng

The facts: 

  • Celebrated on the second full moon day of the Lanna Kingdom Lunar Calendar
  • In 2019, this festival is celebrated between 11th-13th November
  • A Lanna traditions – celebrated primarily in Northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Mai
  • This celebration sees Khom Loi (sky lanterns) released into the sky which symbolises sending bad luck away
  • Tickets are required for mass lantern releases such as Maejo – releasing lanterns illegally can result in fines and prison sentences

What is a Khom Loi?

A Khom Loi is a lantern made from a thin material such as rice paper, this delicate paper is stretched over a bamboo wire-frame and a candle or fuel-cell is added. When the fuel-cell is lit, the resuming hot air is encased inside the lantern and enables it to float in the sky.


Yi Peng - Thailand - Festivals of light


History of Yi Peng:

Yi Peng originated from Brahmanic traditions in Hinduism and Buddhism. King Rama IV agreed to the use of lights and lanterns as a way of honouring the Lord Buddha, as well as providing the people an outlet for their suffering over the past year. 

Central and southern parts of Thailand have practised this tradition for the past 150 years, whereas those in the Kingdom of Lanna (Northern Thailand) have been releasing rice paper lanterns for a similar reason since the 13th Century.  

Rice paper lantern - Thailand - Festivals of Light in Thailand

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