Yi Peng – The Beauty of the Floating Lantern Festival
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.
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
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
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
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 the sky filled with warmth of the floating lanterns
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
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
More being released constantly
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
Would you want to see the floating lanterns of Yi Peng?