Loi Krathong is Thailand’s Light Festival and probably one of the most charming festivities in the Kingdom. It falls on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month. Several important rivers and ponds across Thailand will be illuminated with candle-lit ‘Krathong’ —small floating baskets made from banana leaves and decorated with incense, offerings, flowers and candles. Loi means “to float”. Krathong can also be translated as “floating crown”, “floating boat”, or “floating decoration”.
Other events during the Krathong include beauty contests, performances of traditional music and dance as well as firework displays.
In Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand, the festival coincides with Lanna traditional Yi Peng (Yi means “two” and peng “full moon day”). The spectacular celebration sees thousands of Lanna-style sky lanterns launched into the air, looking like giant lighted jellyfish floating over the horizon.
In 2015, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) highlights seven venues to celebrate Loi Krathong celebrations as follow: is year TAT has listed seven venues from different regions, each of which has its own distinctive style of Loi Krathong celebrations. They are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Sukhothai, Tak, Ayutthaya, Samut Songkram and Ratchaburi.
The celebration is an important economic factor: according to the Thailand Chamber of Commerce, it is expected to generate US$319 million in revenues (THB11.4 billion), of which US$114.2 million in revenues (THB4.03 billion) will be spent in Bangkok alone. In 2012, it is estimated that Loi Kratong attracted 6.3 million viewers. This year, TAT expects some two million tourists to participate to the festivities.
The Government instructed agencies to beef up security during the festival as well as controlling environment. Thailand Pollution Control Department is advising Thai to drop non-biodegradable foam-made or plastic-made baskets for natural material-made krathong such as banana leaves, rattan or flowers. The number of non-bio degradable krathong is indeed sinking: In Bangkok, the Department recorded in 2014 only 10% of foam-made baskets among all floating items compared to 18% in 2011.
A similar festival takes place as well in Myanmar but festivities are different. It is called Tazaungdaing Festival. Home and streets are illuminated and Buddhists are provided robes which are sewed during the two days preceding the festivity. In Myanmar most spectacular venues, visitors will light up a total number of 9,999 candles at midnight. Floating lanterns and hot balloons are also launched into the air in Shan State. Spectacular festivities take place at Yangon Shwedagon Pagoda and the city of Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State.