Releasing a lantern during the Yi Peng Festival in Thailand has been by far one of the most amazing things I’ve gotten to do in my travels.
The streets are crowded with people lighting and sending off lanterns, setting off fireworks, and releasing krathongs into the river to send out wishes for the year ahead.
It really is just spectacular chaos.
A bit about the Festival
The Festival, held in Chiang Mai around the end of November brings in a huge number of tourist every year. In recent years, the city’s attempted to cut back on the hoards of tourists flooding into the town by only announcing the official dates days before the event.
This makes it a bit of a tricky event to attend, especially if you’ve only got a few days to work with.
If you have got the time however, book yourself some accommodations for a week or two around the full moon in November, and you’ll be good to go. Once you’re in Chiang Mai, ask around to find out the festival dates. There’s usually some confusion around the dates, and when I was there, there were even rumours going around that it was going to be cancelled! Talk about disappointing. Thankfully though, the festival went ahead as planned, only with more restrictions on when and where to release lanterns. (Not that I saw a whole lot of people following the rules!)
The night of, we scored ourself a patio table at John’s Place (a popular bar) overlooking the main street where we watched the parade go by, and enjoyed a couple of Leo beers as the sun went down.
Once the streets started to fill up, we wandered out and followed the crowded flow of people heading to the main bridge to set off their lanterns. On the way, we picked up our own for about 200 Baht from a stand set up on the street. We also each picked up a krathong to send off in the river.
The bridge was insanely crowded. Everywhere we looked there were people lighting and releasing their lanterns. The sky was just full of them. Its amazing to just stand there and watch, as the lanterns slowly float up and away, eventually turing into tiny dots before they flicker out.
When we finally decided to light ours, we were super excited. You have to hold on to them for a few minutes after you’ve lit them to let the lantern fill up with hot air. And then you finally let go, and they float up into the sky.
Have you been to Yi Peng or Loy Krathong in Thailand? Do you want to go? I’d love to hear from you!