What’s with all those floating lights?
Bodies of water illuminated by thousands of floating baskets. Friends and families with gaping smiles as they light and release their very own vessel. You’ve probably seen it run across your feed on Instagram or Facebook. Maybe you’ve had the privilege to experience it in person. Perhaps you’ve never heard of it but are avidly looking to learn more about Thai culture.
While it’s also known as the Thai Festival of Lights, Thailand calls this holiday Loi Krathong (silent h). Each year the festival takes place on the full moon during the twelfth month of the Thai lunar calendar, which in 2017 fell on November 3rd. This is not to be confused, however, with Yi Peng, which is the Lantern Festival celebrated in northern Thailand that happens to coincide on the full moon of the same month.
Okay that’s cool, but what does it even mean??
Well, Loi Krathong can roughly be translated as “to float a basket,” which is exactly what the festival consists of: the lighting and releasing of intricate baskets typically made of banana tree leaves and decorated with flowers, candles, incense, and many more aesthetics. In many instances, because of its concurrence with Yi Peng, floating lanterns are also lit alongside krathongs and released into the sky.
I’m sold, sign me up!
Unfortunately, since Loi Krathong just passed in November, the next opportunity to participate will be on November 23rd of 2018. But it’s never too early to start planning for next year! Since every region celebrates the holiday differently, there are many options in Thailand where you might go and partake. If you’re in Bangkok, both the Asiatique riverside night market and the riverbanks of the Chao Phraya River are optimal venues. However, if you’re after a more immersive cultural experience, head up to the five-day festival in Sukhothai or the three-day festival in Ayutthaya. If, instead, you’d rather be a part of the lanterns of Yi Peng, then Chiang Mai offers a world-renowned scene. And don’t worry about bringing or making your own lantern or krathong! Both may be purchased from street vendors—who can also show you how to light and release—for relatively cheap wherever the festival is being celebrated. No matter where you choose, you’re nearly guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience. Thus, I highly recommend you add Loi Krathong as an item on your bucket list and #gotravel!
For more information and stories about Anthony and his adventures in Thailand, check out his blog: www.godineztravel.com