For one week around the full moon of the 12th lunar month, visitors to the Northern Thailand city of Chiang Mai could be forgiven for thinking they had been transported into a war zone instead of the heart of the ancient Lanna (one million rice fields) kingdom.
Day and night the percussion of constantly exploding fireworks echo overhead as Chiang Mai celebrates the largest annual festival held in Thailand – Loi Krathong (floating raft) – and the traditional Chiang Mai Yi Peng (Festival of Lights).
Nowhere else in Thailand are these two coinciding festivals celebrated, and nowhere else are festivals celebrated with such enthusiasm as in Thailand’s North.
The festivities begin with a traditional Buddhist ceremony at Mae Jo University which is the prelude to the mass release of thousands of Khome Loi (sky lanterns).
Fireworks. floating Khome Loi and the burnt remains of Khome Loi that plummet to Earth, often in a fiery mass, are a common site and sound for visitors to Thailand’s second largest city.
The festivities conclude with a parade of giant Krathongs through the heart of Chiang Mai, while overhead Khome Loi battle for airspace.
This pictorial feature attempts to capture the enthusiasm, culture and traditions of Chiang Mai residents and visitors celebrating the Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festival in November 2008.
More on the Chiang Mai Loi Krathong and Yi Peng Festivals can be found here: Loi Krathong Festival and Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival – floating festivals of light
Video of the 2008 Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival can be found here: Newsblog video gallery
© John Le Fevre, 2008
He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me