Flying Lanterns, Floating Crowns

Pictures from Thailand's most enchanting festivals

By / August 2013

The Thai festival of Loi Krathong (Floating Crown) in Chiang Mai coincides with Yi Ping, the Northern Thailand Lantern Festival, famous for Khom Loi (Floating Lantern). During this enchanting time, people set sail to floating crowns or handmade boats on the Ping River; they also release illuminated floating lanterns into the night sky. Some believe that by doing this, they will be rid of bad luck. Others just enjoy the fun and beauty of the blazing paraphernalia as it flies or floats away. “I could not let [the balloon] go,” wrote the American writer Ray Bradbury about a similar ritual he performed with his grandfather as a young boy. “It was so beautiful, with the light and shadows dancing inside.” Beautiful indeed. — AG


Photograph by Aaron Goccia A couple in Chiang Mai anticipate the release of their floating lantern.

Handheld fireworks are also part of the festivities during Loi Krathong.Handheld fireworks are also part of the festivities during Loi Krathong.

Photograph by Aaron GocciaPhotograph by Aaron Goccia

Photograph by Aaron GocciaA woman says a prayer before offering a floating crown to the river spirits in Chiang Mai.

Photograph by Aaron GocciaThe night sky fills with with floating lanterns during Yi Peng, commonly called the Lantern Festival.

12482765814_07160be683_zLet your heart go free with the wind, goes a popular Thai saying.

Photograph by Aaron GocciaSome Thais believe bad luck soars away on their lanterns, others simply enjoy the show.

Aaron Goccia, who last wrote about a strange Malaysian cave ritual, is an EthnoTraveler contributor.