Yi peng Festival 2018 – Chiang Mai Festival of Lights
Yi Peng Lantern Festival – Loy Krathong 2018 in Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai is also celebrated alongside the Yi Peng or Yee Peng festival. The traditional calendar of the old Lanna Kingdom (Chiang Mai) differs to the rest in Thailand and the Yi Peng festival is celebrated during the full moon of the second month of the traditional Lanna Kingdom calendar, which also happens to be the twelfth month of the Thai Lunar calendar. It’s for this reason that both the Yi Peng festival and Loy Krathong in Chaing Mai are celebrated together creating a grand display of light lasting several days.
The Yi Peng festival features ornately decorated illuminated lanterns (called Khom Loy) which can be seen carried around, displayed in houses, hung in temples or launched into the sky. The Khom Loy are about a metre high and made out of thin paper braced with a wire frame. Cotton soaked in kerosene is then placed at the bottom of this frame and lit. Launching the Khom Loys into the sky is both easy and fun! The cotton is lit and after about a minute, the paper cylinder would have filled up with enough hot air to lift itself off the ground. It’s believed that a person’s bad luck and misfortune throughout the year is also sent off into the night sky along with the Khom Loy. This is especially true if the Khom Loy disappears out of sight before its flame goes out. Khom Loy are released into the air all throughout the Yi Peng, but the Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai features two mass lantern launches which are truly a spectacle to behold.
The first, and largest mass Khom Loy launch takes place behind Mae Jo University. It’s attended by thousands each year and is a free event. Should you decide to make this a part of your trip, please be aware that you are not allowed to bring your own lanterns. Lanterns can be purchased on the spot at around 100 baht each for the simple reason of uniformity. The Khom Loy launch is normally between 6:30 and 7:30pm but be sure to get there early!
The second mass Khom Loy event is more of a tourist attraction than part of a Buddhist festival. It usually occurs around one week after the initial launch behind Mae Jo University and is a private event, available only to those who have purchased their ticket in advance. It’s not an official event organized by the government and tickets cost around $100 per participant, which includes some food, 2 lanterns, a Krathong, some souvenirs and transportation to/from a pre-designated meeting point.
As a result of both the Yi Peng and Loy Krathong festivals in Chiang Mai being celebrated at the same time visitors are treated to an amazing display of light and culture both in the air and on the water, lasting several days. Both festivals generally fall in November, so if you’re planning a trip during that time be sure to check this year’s exact festival dates and make your way over to Chiang Mai!