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Yi Peng – The Beauty of the Floating Lantern Festival

Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival in Thailand

Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival in Thailand

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,

and the life of the candle will not be shortened.

Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Buddha

Monks releasing their lantern

Monks releasing their lantern

We were at the Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, also known as the Floating Lantern Festival. And while Yi Peng festival occurs at the same time as the better known Loi Krathong festival, it is a different festival with roots in the ancient Lanna kingdom.

It was already quite late and dark, but as we lighted the torches surrounding us, the night grew brighter with the flames and everything felt warmer.

We all sat down; the sea of orange flames stretching on indefinitely to each direction and we settled down for mediation, which, I do admit, is probably not that exciting if you haven’t really done any mediation before.

I quite enjoyed it.

And Yi Peng is still is a Buddhist festival at heart so the mediation is part of it.

We lighted the torches

We lighted the torches

Sea of flames

Sea of flames

The meditation, the parades and the rest of the ceremony is quite interesting and doesn’t really last that long, but I do admit, it is for the floating lanterns that we were all here.

So finally it came time to light the lanterns. We hoisted our lanterns over the torches. It was easier to do this with two people holding the paper away from the flame, allowing the little paraffin piece at the bottom to catch fire.

The burning paraffin then filled the lantern with hot air, giving life to it. And suddenly the air around us changed from darkness into the warm light of the lanterns, almost in an instant.

And we all looked around amazed.

Then it was time to light the paraffin in the lantern

Then it was time to light the paraffin in the lantern

This usually took more than one person, to keep rest of the lantern from catching fire

This usually took more than one person, to keep rest of the lantern from catching fire

Suddenly we were surrounded by a sea of lanterns

Suddenly we were surrounded by a sea of lanterns

But we were waiting to release them

But we were waiting to release them

We held on to the lanterns until we got the sign and we released all of them together; letting the hopes we had pinned on them to rise into the night sky. We watched in awe as our lanterns quickly ascended, leaving earth behind and creating new stars in the sky.

Bigger, brighter and warmer.

We watched the individual lanterns rise and join together, creating a field of stars that moved with a single purpose.

And at the same time we let them go

And at the same time we let them go

And the sky filled with warmth of the floating lanterns

And the sky filled with warmth of the floating lanterns

Thousands and thousands of them

Thousands and thousands of them

The new shape caught the wind; and they all followed the same pattern, circling us. And all we could do was look up at them.

Now I don’t use the word magical often when I write as it tends to be bit of an overstatement. But magical is the only word that really describes the Yi Peng floating lantern festival I visited last year. And it has to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen while I’ve been wandering around the globe.

All of us there agreed that it really is one of the most magical things we’ve seen.

The night sky finally full of them

The night sky finally full of them

Like stars

Like stars

And then there were fireworks amid the lanterns

And then there were fireworks amid the lanterns

After the first release, people still release more lanterns for at least an hour. And one by one, those single lanterns join the new stars on the sky.

It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

So if you happen to be in Thailand around the 28th of November this year, I highly recommend going to Chiang Mai for the festival.

Often lanterns were shared by groups of friends or families

Often lanterns were shared by groups of friends or families

More being released constantly

More being released constantly

Filling the night sky

Filling the night sky

Tips for seeing Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival:

  • Held in Mae Cho, which is some 10km from Chiang Mai
  • Organize your transport to the festival area and back before the festival (taxi, tuktuk, motorbike etc.)
  • Arrive at least a few hours before the festival starts
  • You can only use lanterns you buy from the festival area (do not bring your own)
  • This is a religious event, so dress modestly, shoulders should be covered
  • Plenty of food and drinks sold on site
  • When returning there will be a lot of traffic, so be prepared that it’ll take a little longer to get back to Chiang Mai
And obviously there was posing for the camera

And obviously there was posing for the camera

 

Would you want to see the floating lanterns of Yi Peng?

29 Comments

  1. Well yes please! I loved your description of how the event unfolded. Sounds really magical! I guess that’s one more reason to finally go to Thailand :)
    Christina recently posted..The Ledge Bungy – expect the unexpectedMy Profile

    • Yep it is magical! And it is a very good reason to go visit Thailand!

  2. Ooooh, so pretty. Is this once a year thing? We were in Chiang Mai in Feb this year and had a great time but we seemed to miss all of the great festivals Thailand has.
    jill recently posted..9 Reasons Why We’d Move to Boulder (and 1 Reason Why We Won’t)My Profile

    • Yep it’s only once a year unfortunately, but it’s worth aiming to go to Chiang Mai around the time for the festival!

  3. How wonderful! I love the smiles on the faces of those monks :)

  4. Such beautiful photos of a peaceful and tranquil event. I’d much rather go to the Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival than a full moon party any day in Thailand!
    Natasha the Glampacker recently posted..Wanderlusting: Vienna on a budgetMy Profile

    • Yeah, the full moon party is quite the different festival. Haven’t seen it yet, and not decided yet if I want to, but it could be quite interesting also. But the floating lantern festival is definitely one of my favorite festivals in the world!

  5. Beautiful photos! I hope some day I get to see this. Thanks for listing some advice on how to see it. I’ve seen many travelers posting pictures of this, but you’re the first to give some travel information on it.
    Christine |GrrrlTraveler recently posted..Taking a cooking class in India (Tibetan momos at Lhamo’s Kitchen)My Profile

    • Thanks Christine. Yeah, definitely recommend seeing this festival!

  6. I got all misty looking at these photos! I have to experience this myself! *Adding to my list of Places I Will Go* Thanks! Great post!
    wintersundays recently posted..SNAIL MAIL!!!!!!My Profile

  7. Gorgeous shots and I appreciate learning more about the festival itself. Now, I do wonder what happens to all those lanterns once they come back down. :(
    Caanan @ No Vacation Required recently posted..Pura Vida Costa RicaMy Profile

    • Thanks Canaan; yeah I have no idea what happens to them, they can’t go on forever, so unfortunately they do come down then at some point :(

  8. Breathtaking shots! It must have been a wonderful experience as well, but your photos are really amazing! Nice lights!
    Kati recently posted..Fogpótlás Budapesten és a világbanMy Profile

    • Thanks Kati, it is an amazing experience for sure!

  9. This is so beautiful – absolutely love the pictures! xx
    Scarlett recently posted..The Scarlett Christmas ListMy Profile

  10. oh wow!!! i havent been to this festival yet… looks magical :-)

    • You should definitely try to go there next year :) it is one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen! :)

  11. It looks like such a magical event! This is one festival that I really want to experience!

    • It is magical! and you definitely need to experience it!

  12. it’s a very touching meaningful event….
    seeing yr fabulous shots already make me tear…
    monks are mediating …for world peace

    • It is a very meaningful event, and I’m glad that you liked the photos. Such an amazing festival.

  13. Wow! These photos are beyond gorgeous – I think I’d have been moved to tears if I had been there! I bet it was just amazing :) Thank you for sharing!
    Elle-Rose Williams recently posted..A few words about this beautiful place. Queenstown.My Profile

  14. Do u know exactly what time the ceremony begins and when the lanterns are released? We try to be there around 6.30. Would it be ok?

  15. Absolutely gorgeous images of an extraordinary and inspiring festival!

  16. cool pictures

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  1. The Radar: Travel Lately – Intelligent Travel - [...] event waiting to be experienced. Check out these photos and see if you’re not convinced that Yi Ping, or the …

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