One of the grandest festivals that takes place in Thailand every year is Loy Krathong. It is sometimes called the “Festival of Lights” due to the twinkling lights on the krathongs that are floated on rivers and streams. The date of the festival varies every year but it is always held on the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar. This is usually in November. This year, Loy Krathong is on 12th November 2008. Next year, it will be on 2nd November 2009. Loy Krathong takes place all over the country at just about any source of water. People will go down to their local rivers or even ponds to float a small container which is traditionally made from banana leaves. In Thai, the word “loi” means to float. They will put a candle, incense sticks and often a few coins for good luck into their krathongs. They will then float this on the water asking for forgiveness from Mother Nature for polluting waterways. As they crouch there and watch their krathong float away under the gaze of the full moon, the Thai people believe that the krathong is also floating away their bad luck. I haven’t decided where I will celebrate Loy Krathong this year. However, here is some information about the main locations that I gathered from a recent press conference for the launch of the festival. All of these pictures were also taken at the media gathering.
Bangkok Loi Krathong Festival
November 8 – 12, 2008
Along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, From Krungthep Bridge to the Rama VIII Bridge
The “Loi Prateep” royal ritual was performed in the royal court on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month. The ritual begins with the king making offerings of rice, followed by Buddhist sermons being held in the Grand Palace. The king then placed floral offerings at the “ubosoth” (chapel) of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram, and the “Ho Phra” scripture hall of the Grand Palace, before setting off to Ratchaworadit Pier to float the giant krathongs. The other notable aspect of Loi Prateep is its water-borne procession consisting of an impressive fleet of no less than five hundred illuminated vessels, each with two lit candles and an incense stick, being carried down-stream.
Two royal ceremonial barges serve as the State barges, the third carries a sacred Buddha image and the fourth carries other sacred and floral offerings. Other vessels consisted of escort boats, floating Thai orchestra, police boats, firework boats, and others. Traditional giant krathongs of various shapes were crafted from cylindrical drums or rafts of 4 to 4.5 metres wide and 5 to 5.5 metres high and embellished with ornaments made from a variety of materials found in the immediate vicinity of the residential area.
On the night of the full moon in Bangkok, which is 12th November 2008, two other venues also have major events. These are Santichaiprakan Park and Rama VIII Bridge on the Thonburi side.
Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival
November 10-12, 2008
At the Sukhothai Historical Park
- The Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival begins with the Phra Mae Ya invocation ritual and a ritual to pay homage to King Ramkamhaeng The Great.
- Cultural performances and Thai musical performances
- A procession of giant krathong floats
- Miss Noppamas beauty contest
- Khome Loi (hoisted lanterns) Procession
- Krathong floats and lantern contests
- Traditional Thai fireworks display
- Khantoke — a traditional Thai-style set dinner
- ‘The Kingdom of Sukhothai light-and-sound presentation
- Traditional floating market, food fair, and folk games
Ayutthaya Loi Krathong Festival
November 12, 2008
At the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Village, Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Center, Ayutthaya Province
- Traditional Krathong Yai (giant krathong) Contest
- Miss Noppamas beauty pageant
- Traditional Miss Noppamas procession reflecting ancient customs
- Thai food contest
- Sales of handcrafted items produced by The Bang Sai Folk Arts and Crafts Training Centre and other village products
- A traditional floating market
- Fireworks display
Loi Krathong Sai Festival and a Thousand Floating Candles, Tak Province
November 8-12, 2008
Venue: The Rattanakosin Bridge (Sapan Sompoch Krung Rattanakosin)
- Procession of the Royal Krathong
- A procession of the auspicious royally bestowed flame for lighting the Loi Krathong Sai floats is followed by a procession of the Loi Krathong Sai floats
- Procession Route: The procession assembles at the King Taksin the Great Memorial then proceeds along Jarot-withithong Road to the intersection at the foot of the Taksin Maharaj Bridge. As the procession makes its way towards the Rattanakosin Bridge (aka Sapan Sompot Krung Rattanakosin 200-Year Bridge) — the event venue, it turns left into Kittikachorn Road and proceeds past the Kittikachorn Building before arriving at the designated site.
- Rituals are performed to seek forgiveness from Mae Khongkha — Mother of Waters
- The Legend of the Loi Krathong Sai light-and-sound performance
- The krathong sai is set adrift.
The Northern Lantern Festival & Yipeng Loi Krathong
November 10-13, 2008
At the Chiang Mai Municipal Office and citywide
- Yipeng lantern procession
- Lanna Thai cultural presentations and performances
- Bamboo raft races and boat races on the Mae Ping River
- The release of Lanna-style floating lanterns
- Krathong contests
Loi Krathong on the Mae Ping River
If you need more details of the schedules, you can post a request over at our www.ThailandQA.com forums. We are also posting all our latest Thai Travel News over at www.PaknamWeb.com. Thanks to the TAT and Riverside Cruise for laying on a wonderful evening. The buffet food was great as usual as was the views from the upper deck of Bangkok at night as we cruised down the river.