My friend and I travelled all the way from Canada to Chiang Mai, Thailand, in hopes to experience one of Thailand’s biggest lantern festivals (aka Loi Krathong & Yi Peng). The festival is the country’s way of giving thanks to Buddha and other Gods. The festival takes place throughout the country but Chiang Mai hosts the biggest ones.
At first disappointing BUT then I realized how far I’ve come to experience something so beautiful while sharing the experience with good company. What made the experience worthwhile was the amount of people that came together and all the groups that worked together to light up the lanterns. Something about a bunch of floating lanterns that is peaceful, carefree and mesmerizing.
What to Expect:
Why was I disappointed at first? I found out that this year (2015), Chiang Mai’s big lantern festival (the one that mass released the lanterns) was relocated 45 minutes (with traffic) to a university (Maejo University) located outside of the main city. The move happened due to complications that arose last year. Apparently a house burnt down and most importantly, it posed as a hazard for a lot of aircrafts that flew directly over Chiang Mai.
On top of that, you needed to purchase tickets AND it was only sold locally AND sold out several months ago… Wtf right? Tickets were never purchased in previous years so I was bummed to find out that I completely missed this part of my research but to be fair, a lot of people did not know, including the locals.
Next, I wasn’t sure whether I should stay in the main city to watch the lantern festival because it was convenient OR go outside the city and sit across the university (since my friends and I did not have tickets). My friends wanted to be at the bigger lantern festival so we went to MaeJo University.
There was a long river across the university and hundreds of people came out to wait for the simultaneous mass release of the lanterns. The release started at 9:15 pm and we had waited since 4pm (it’s a full event so there are prayers and stuff that happens)! Sounds like a long time but thankfully we were able to sit down. Those that came late had to stand or sit on top of vehicl
After waiting hours and being restless, the simultaneous release of the lanterns happened. Hundreds flew in the area along with several more that flew with it from our side. BUT THE HUNDREDS OF LANTERNS FLEW BEHIND THE TALL TREES THAT STOOD IN FRONT OF US -_- I was frustrated! Lol BUT then the sky lit up with the lanterns and you can hear everybody being in awe. My friend and I lit up our pink lantern as well 🙂
Video of people releasing lanterns prior to the mass release
Video of when the mass release of lanterns took place, along with a bunch of others by the river
If you cannot get tickets, stay in the main city where the old town is and watch the show there. It’s by the bridge and everybody will know so don’t be afraid to ask 🙂 Also, in the city, there are more krathong (refers to “floating basket” made of banana leaf and flower decoratons) releases in the water by the bridge. Not only does the sky light up with lanterns but the water lights up with these krathongs! The main city is brighter, louder and more cramped but it’s definitely a lot more festive.
The first two photos are taken by my friend @nikkitursikova. She decided to stay in the main city.
I’ll be posting photos of my trip soon!