One of the most beautiful festivals in Thailand, Loy Krathong, is held on the night of the full moon of the 12th month of the Thai calendar every year - around November.
The people of Thailand have had a close relationship with water since ancient times. As a farming people, the Thais always used to build their homes and villages near rivers, for they depended on their waters for their crops as well as for a means to travel from one part of the country to the next. Generations after generation of Thais have been sustained by these waters, so water is held in deep respect. From this respect comes one of the most important festivals of the year.
During the festival the rivers become full of floats, known as krathong, which are of different shapes and sizes. They are beautifully decorated with both fresh and dry flowers. With candles lit, they become like stars drifting through the heavens made bright by the light of the full moon reflected on the surface of the waters. The beauty of this scene and the atmosphere of celebration have made the festival famous for Thais and foreigners alike.
Though the manner of celebration and the conduct of rituals vary in each part of Thailand, the underlying purpose of showing respect and gratitude towards water is the same.
One of the most interesting objects is the colourful khom loy, or hot air balloon. Built in a variety of shapes and sizes, they are released into the sky during the day and night. Burning wicks are placed in those that are released at night. The lanterns in the sky and the lamps on the ground adorn the sky and the city with a myriad of lights, while all around firecrackers blaze and explode like thunder. This is an atmosphere you can enjoy only in the Yi Peng festival of Chiang Mai.
The festival is made even livelier by the activities of the municipality and private enterprise, which co-operate to put on dazzling shows.