Floating Dreams – Loy Krathong, Thailand’s Most Beautiful Holiday Festival
Lights from hundreds of candles twinkle on the water. Each one carries prayers and wishes sent off to float down rivers and streams. Celebrate Loy Krathong with your family to create lasting memories of your wonderful trip to Thailand.
Loy Krathong is one of Thailand’s most important holidays. As the exact date of the holiday is determined by the Thai lunar calendar, the date is different each year. The holiday normally falls in November and festival and parade days differ slightly from city to city. (Loy Krathong vies for the title of most important Thai holiday festival with Songkran, which is held in April.)
“Loy” means “float”, and a “krathong” is a special Thai floating sculpture particular to the holiday. The traditional krathong is made from a cross-section of a banana tree trunk, which is then elaborately decorated with folded banana leaves and flowers in intricate towering designs. You will find hundreds of krathongs for sell around the main Loy Krathong festivity areas. Often school children will make their own krathongs in school or with their family. They’ll even have krathong contests in school to see who can craft the most beautiful and artistic float.
Today the banana trunk core is sometimes replaced by styrofoam or bread (baked into the form of a traditional krathong or a cute floating turtle). The banana trunk and bread krathongs are obviously eco-friendly, so better choices for your family.
Ask your hotel staff where they recommend celebrating Loy Krathong in your destination and they can easily point you in the right direction. When you’re there, browse the krathong displays and pick out your favourite (or even several!). Head to the waterside where you see local Thais gathering to float their krathongs. First light the incense sticks and candles (these will already be in the krathong that you have bought). Your entire family should hold the krathong together after it is lit. Everyone makes a wish, and then sends the krathong into the water with a little push, to carry your wish downstream. It carries away your troubles and offers up your wishes and prayers with the incense and glowing candle. Follow the flickering light with your eyes as long as you can.
Other Loy Krathong holiday traditions include setting eels and turtles free in the river or pond. Your children may have fun doing this. You’ll find them being sold near the water. The Loy Krathong holiday is also celebrated with beauty pageants.
The grandest Loy Krathong celebrations are in Chiang Mai. Enjoy the parades with large floats fashioned as giant krathongs each with their own theme. Many of the celebrants on the floats dress in regal Thai costumes or as mythical Thai beings, and you’re also likely to see beauty queens waving to the crowd.
In addition to the water festivities, Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai features floating lanterns (or sky lanterns), large paper lanterns that float up into the sky just as a hot air balloon does. Seeing hundreds or thousands of these launched into the air at once is magical. You will also easily find these lanterns for sale in Chiang Mai, and the vendors or other locals will be happy to show you how to light them and launch them into the air. As with the krathong, you hold the floating lantern as a family and then release it up into the air together.
Forge unforgettable Loy Krathong memories together as a family. Joining the local festivities of the Loy Krathong holiday and taking part in beautiful traditions will be a meaningful and memorable highlight of your Thailand family holiday. The cool weather during this part of the year also makes it a wonderful time to explore the many other wonders of Thailand.
(Thinking about celebrating Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai? Check out our Chiang Mai Family Holidays Top 6 Highlights.)
When is Loy Krathong 2014?
Loy Krathong falls on the full moon night of:
Thursday, November 6, 2014.
Note: The celebration nights may range between November 5-7, depending on location.
Chiang Mai, which features some of the most extravagant Loy Krathong festivities, will celebrate on November 5, 6 and 7.