What is Loi Krathong?

Loi Krathong draws crowds thanks to its magical display of flowers and candle light.

This ancient Thai ritual tradition is celebrated annually. Loi Krathong can be translated to, “to float a basket”. The purpose of the event is to pay respect to the water spirits. The evening that this pretty festivity differs every year but is most likely to be in November. This is because it falls on the full moon of the 12th month, for this year it will be held on 3 November.

Loi Krathong is celebrated to coincide with the end of the rice harvest. The water goddess is thanked with lotus shaped rafts for providing water to help the rice growing. At the same time many believe this is a good time to let go of any negative feelings and start afresh. 

Groups gather at the water’s edge whether that be at a lake of one Bangkok’s parks or the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Here they release their pretty Krathong’s into the water to the river spirits. Made with either a banana tree trunk, bread (favoured by fish) or the less environmentally friendly styrofoam, they are adorned with flowers and can also hold some traditional Thai food. A incense stick and/or candle is lit in the centre and participants watch them as the drift off. A candle that stays alight is considered to give the bearer good luck for the forthcoming year. 

The northern city of Chiang Mai hosts a spectacular every year. Here lanterns are set off into the sky offering some breathtaking photo opportunities. Made of paper these are thought to drift into the heavens and can be seen from miles afar. Many flock to Chiang Mai to embrace this annual event.

Similar festivals are held in other Asian countries. This includes Bon Om Touk in Cambodia, Tazaungdaing festival in Myanmar and Il Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka.