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Loy Krathong / Yee Peng in Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong (ลอยกระทง), sometimes spelled Loy Kratong, is a colorful festival held every year on the full moon of the twelfth month in the Thai Lunar Calendar. In 2012, the full moon falls on November 28th, but in some places the celebration will be from the 27 to 29th.

This Thai Festival is held all over the country, but there are particularly beautiful celebrations held in Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, where the celebrations take place over several days. Celebrations are now held throughout Thailand including Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, as well as parts of Myanmar (Shan State) and Laos.

Yee Peng

In Chiang Mai the celebration is known as Yee Peng (Second Month), as the twelfth month in the Thai Lunar Calendar corresponds to the second month in the traditional calendar of the old northern Lanna kingdom. The festival features beautifully illuminated lanterns, which are either carried, displayed in houses and temples, and even launched into the night sky. Krathong which are an offering – traditionally made out of a banana stalk and adorned with candles, incense and some money – are floated down the rivers.

Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai

Loy Krathong generally takes place over one or two days. In Chiang Mai, this turns into a three day festival, though there are events scattered over five or six days. The night of the full moon is known as Loy Krathong Yai. The night before is known as Loy Krathong Lek. In practice there is little to choose between them. The focus of celebrations in Chiang Mai is around the Saphan Nawarat Bridge that connects Tha Pae Road on the western side of the river with Charoen Muang Road on the other side. If you like crowds and a party atmosphere this is the place to come.

Vendors on the eastern side of the bridge sell, khom loy, fireworks and also beer and whiskey. Obviously, alcohol, gunpowder and kerosene make for a dangerous combination, so be careful. On the western side of the river bamboo landings will have been constructed where people can launch their krathongs into the water. Take note that on previous occasions drunken youths have thrown fireworks at the crowd and each other. The police make an effort to regulate the younger element, but they cannot be everywhere.

A more sedate and spiritual venue can be found at the temple of Wat Mongkol, which is about two kilometers south of the bridge along Charoen Phratet Road. The temple has its own concrete landing on the river, where devotees can launch their krathongs. Throughout the evening hundreds of Khom Loy are launched into the air from the temple grounds. Khom Loy can be bought from vendors inside the temple.

The Loy Krathong Parade features giant illuminated krathongs, on top of which are perched candidates for the upcoming beauty contest. It usually leaves Tha Pae Gate for the Night Market early on the evening of the first day of the festival.

Mae Jo Mass Lantern Launch

The most spectacular of the massed balloon launches takes place at the back of Mae Jo University, about 13 kilometers outside town. Note that the Mae Jo/Sansai lantern release is not included in the schedule. This is not a part of Chiang Mai events, but is something a bit different than most people realize. The Mai Jo/Sansai lantern release is put on by the DMC, which is a Buddhist sect who specialize in large-scale events that are particularly photogenic. For more information about the DMC see the article on them in Foreign Policy. This event is for Thai believers and hi-so people (who can afford it), tourists and photographers, but is not an actual government-sanctioned event, or an indigenous event, per se. This event, again, is separate and is being held on Nov 30th in 2012. See the DMC website for more information.

Chiang Mai Events for Yee Peng / Loy Krathong

Tourism Authority of Thailand, Chiang Mai office is proud to invite everyone conserve the Yee Peng Festivity of Chiang Mai Province. It will be held throughout the Chiang Mai City from November 25-29, 2012 and it is held as well to commemorate the Miracle Year of Thailand for the three auspicious royal celebrations:

  1. His Majesty the King’s 84th Birthday,
  2. Her Majesty the Queen’s 80th Birthday, and
  3. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn’s 60th Birthday.

Ongoing Activities

  • Nov. 25-29, 2012 – Light up the whole city by Lanna Lantern, Yee Peng Lantern and colorful lanterns around the old city moat, gate and 3 Kings Monument.
  • Nov. 27-29, 2012 – Arch Decorating Contest at temples and in the community in the Chiang Mai Municipal area
  • Nov. 27-29, 2012 – Krathong Making Contest & Showcase along the Old City Moat

Nighttime Activities

  • Nov. 26, 2012 – Lantern Parade from Thapae Gate to Pantip Plaza from 19.00-22.00
  • Nov. 27, 2012 – Small Krathong parade and contest (float along the ping river) from Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Municipality Office (at the bank of Mae Ping River) from 19.00-23.00
  • Nov. 27, 2012 – Yee Peng Kids Contest at Thapae Gate from 19.00-24.00
  • Nov. 27-28, 2012 – Miss & Mr. Yee Peng Contest at Thapae Gate from 18.00-24.00
  • Nov. 27-29, 2012 – Music and cultural performances show at beside the Nawarat Bridge from 18.00-24.00
  • Nov. 28, 2012 Grand Krathong Procession and Contest from Thapae Gate to Chiang Mai Municipality Office (at the bank of Mae Ping River) from 18.00-24.00
  • Nov. 28-29, 2012 Fireworks show Float in the Mae Ping River from 20.00-24.00
  • Nov. 28-29, 2012 – Release Krathong Sai Lanna to the Ping River at in front of Chiang Mai Municipality Office (at the bank of Mae Ping River) from 19.00-21.00

Daytime Activities

  • Nov. 28, 2012 – Lantern and Giant Lantern Contest at Chiang Mai Municipality Office (at the bank of Mae Ping River) from 09.00-12.00
  • Nov. 28, 2012 – Krathong Making Contest at Chiang Mai Municipality Office (at the bank of Mae Ping River) from 09.00-17.00

Religious Activity

  • Nov. 27-29, 2012 – Chanting and giving alms at Wat Lok Mo Lee from 09.00-22.00
  • Nov. 27-29, 2012 – Respective Ritual ceremony to Phra Sirimangkalajarn at Chiang Mai Bhuddist Place from 09.00-22.00
  • Nov. 28, 2012 – Traditional Respective Ritual Ceremony to Phra Phum, white pagoda and the God of water at Chiang Mai Municipality Office and Sri Khong Pier from 08.09-10.30
  • Nov. 28, 2012 – Grand Chanting Ceremony at Wat Muang Sart Luang from 06.00-20.00