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Loy Kratong is one of the most popular festivals in Thailand held on the 12th full moon of the year, so the date changes every year. The festival originated to pay homage to the river goddess and is celebrated all over Thailand. In Chiang Mai, people flock to the Ping river to float their Krathongs.
“Loy” means Float, while “Krathong” is the Thai word for tray. People make or buy a variety of floating vessels filled with flowers and candles and set them a float on the river. If your Krathong floats until it is out of site, it means that your love will last forever, making this a romantic festival as well.
Our hotel had a table where we made our own Krathongs. A slice of banana stem with folded banana leaf around is used as the base for our decorations. Then we pinned and placed flowers in it, a few candles and 3 incense sticks.
Our evening began with trying to get into a restaurant along the Ping River. These restaurants are booked months in advance for this festival, so instead we opted to walk around and enjoy the variety of street food in Chiang Mai. Which was a great option, especially with children.
We were able to get our food quickly and enjoy it picnic style near the river, while the kids ran around, watched Krathongs being released into the river and lanterns being released into the night sky.
We released our own Krathong and watched it successfully float, ensuring our family love and happiness will last forever.
Loy Krathong may have originated as a calm and romantic festival, but these days it’s an all out party with performers on stages all over the city, people in the streets, rice paper lanterns set adrift into the night sky, 3 hour long parades and fireworks.
It’s a party and a HUGE party!
There are people everywhere…lighting off their own fireworks off the bridge, lighting open flames to rise their rice paper lanterns into the night air and lighting sparklers in public!
This party would not happen in a more western nation that is so overly concerned with precautions. We’d all be arrested!
People were having a great time, but it wasn’t crazy or out of control and we didn’t feel in danger. The bridge crossing was precarious though. Fireworks were going off all around us, mainly aimed towards the river, but there was so much going on, I just wanted to get me and my children off of that bridge, as fun as it was.
On the other side, a huge parade was making it’s way through the streets. The parade originates from the old city Taepae Gate and heads towards the Ping River.
The parade was a festival of color and traditional, opulent dress. Beautiful Thai women and men adorned the floats, smiling the entire way.
There were several walking troops as well, some performed, others simply represented. There was so much variety it made our walk back to the Old City spectacular. (Check out more pics in the gallery below or on on friends blog about the Loi Krathrong parade.)
We walked all the way back to our hotel, stopping to get a bit more street food (gyoza) and talking about how unbelievably fantastic the evening was. Come to Thailand at the end of Novemeber to experience this and the Yi Peng festival. It will SO be worth the ticket!
Sometimes pictures just don’t do it justice, so I’ve made a quick little video for you to get the essence of the festival.