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 echoes overhead as Chiang Mai celebrates the largest annual festival held in Thailand — the Loi Krathong Festival (floating raft) and the traditional Chiang Mai Yi Peng Festival (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.
Chiang Mai Loi Krathong and Yi Peng festival photo slide gallery
Photos John Le Fevre
He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.
He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.
In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.
Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.
In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.
Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me
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Great Photos. I arrived in Bangkok a day before Loi Krathong on my first trip to Thailand several years ago. I was unaware the festival was going to take place, but felt so fortunate to have been there to see it.