Loi Krathong – the Festival of Lights – is one of the oldest and best-preserved traditions in Thailand and is arguably the most beautiful. Held on the night of the 12th lunar month – usually November – the festival is the time to put past mistakes behind you and present new wishes out to the universe. The krathong, the lanterns and boats, carry any negative emotions and bad luck away, with the money just a little safeguard in case Phra Mae Nam Kongka, the Hindu Water Goddess, is not paying attention.
Loi Krathong is held on lakes, rivers and klongs (canals) all over Thailand, with the most popular events held in Chiang Mai, and in Sukhothai – the ancient Thai capital – where the festival is said to have eventuated. In Chiang Mai, the festival has morphed to be part of the larger Yi Peng event, with candle-carrying lanterns known as khom loy, also let loose to float up into the heavens. In both these locations, visitors will also enjoy light shows, traditional dancing and concerts.
In Bangkok, hotels on the banks of the Chao Phraya River are a good place to be, with the ‘River of Kings’ quite a sight with the vessels and their flickering candles riding the tide of this mighty waterway.
The candle plays an important part. If it stays alight until your krathong disappears from view, you will have a year of good luck. If it capsizes, well, prepare for some bad luck.
In 2019, Loi Krathong falls on November 12 in Thailand, with Yi Peng on from November 11-13. Sydneysiders can also get into the act with a Loi Krathong festival at Parramatta Park on November 16.