Yi Peng Lantern Festival
Yi Peng Lantern Festival, sometimes referred as "Yee Peng", is one of the most charming and symbolic events in Chiang Mai. Although several interesting events and religious ceremonies take place during the festival period, Yi Peng's most iconic image is when thousands of "Khom Loi" are launched into the deep sky where they resemble bright stars of a dynamic constellation gently fluctuated by wind. A traditional khom loy, which literally means floating lantern, consists of a thin fabric, such as rice paper or mulberry paper, stretched over a bamboo or wire frame to which a candle or a fuel cell is attached. When the candle is lit, the resulting hot air is trapped inside khom loy and creates enough lift for the lantern to float up into the sky. Closely linked to the ancient traditions of the Lanna Kingdom, the act of releasing the floating lanterns is a way to pay respect Buddha and also to release bad memories and misfortunes of the previous year. Buddhists also believe that if you make a wish when you release a khom loi, it will come true. This tradition is especially appreciated by young couples, as offers the opportunity to express a wish for their love story. Both young lovers release a lantern into the sky at the same time and pay homage Buddha. It is customary to believe that love will last for a long time if lanterns float together into the sky.
Yi Peng Lantern Festival takes place on the full moon day of the second month according to the Lanna lunar calendar, which coincides with the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, but religious ceremonies and events are held over a period of several days, normally a day before and a day after the date of the full moon. While originally the festival was celebrated as an individual event in its own right marking the end of the rainy season and the start of cool season, nowadays Yi Peng Lantern Festival is held the same day as Loy Krathong. In 2022, Yi Peng and Loy Krathong will be held on Wednesday, the 9th of November, but the celebrations will begin on Tuesday 8 November and end on Thursday 10 November, while in 2023 both events will be celebrated on Tuesday, the 28th of November.
Where to See Yi Peng Lantern Festival - Though the launch of floating lanterns can be seen throughout Thailand during the Loy Krathong, it's Chiang Mai which has become synonymous with Yi Peng Lantern Festival. In addition to the magic show offered by thousands of "Khom Loy" floating into the sky in full moon night, there are plenty of other activities that are held throughout Chiang Mai. These include traditional Thai dance shows, the official "Yee Peng Parade" around the Old City gates and down Tha Phae Road, live music performances and the “Queens of Yee Peng” beauty contest. During the festival, temples and households decorate their front entrances with flowers and "Khom Fai", which are intricately shaped paper lanterns. There are three main styles of khon fai: khom thuea, which are carried around hanging from a stick; khom kwaen, which are hanging lanterns; and khom pariwat, which are placed at temples and which revolve due to the heat of the candle inside. Colourful "Khom Fai" displays are set up at the Three Kings Monument, Thapae Gate and at all of other gates around the moat which encircles the Old Town of Chiang Mai. Throughout the festival period, the locals go to temple to pay homage and to follow Buddhist traditions like offering lanterns, listening to the monks pray, and meditating. The act of donating "Khom Loy" to temples is one way of making merit and the light of a lantern symbolizes the moving away from darkness into a brighter future. On the morning of Yi Peng, novice monks at some of city's temples will release into the sky several giants "Khom Loy", to which firecrackers are attached.