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The Floating Lantern Festival: An evening when mankind releases stars

Have you ever dreamed of visiting a magical land with thousands of lights floating high above you but seemingly close enough that you could reach out and touch them? Well, funny enough, there is a place where you can do just that.

I found myself in such a place in November of this year. It was Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, and it was the festival of Yi Peng Floating Lanterns, one of the two festivals in Thailand.

It was magical! As the moon reaches its most entire point in November of every year, the residents of Chiang Mai build their best floats and release lanterns into the air to rid the city of troubles and curses.

For me, this festival was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I had never dreamed that I would ever see this fantastic festival, but I found myself on the bank of the Mae Ping River and realized my dream had come true.

Floating Lanterns
Photo: Mark Fischer

Lantern festivals are a time when people release stars into the sky. It is a time to come together, celebrate, remember those who have passed away, and look forward to the future. People write their hopes and dreams on paper lanterns and send them floating into the sky. It is a beautiful sight to behold.

Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival Travel Tips

If you’re planning on attending the Yi Peng festival, be sure to follow these travel tips:

  • Arrive early to get a good spot to view the sky lanterns.
  • Get a chance to learn how to make floating lanterns.
  • Bring a blanket or chair, as limited seating is available.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close by
  • Avoid bringing valuables with you, as they may be stolen or lost in the crowd.

Lantern Festival Photography Tips

  • The lantern festival is a beautiful opportunity to capture the beauty of stars in the sky. Here are some tips for capturing the magic of this event through photography:
  • Find a spot with a clear view of the sky. It will give you the best chance of capturing the beauty of the stars.
  • Use a tripod to keep your camera steady. It
  •  will help you avoid blurry photos.
  • Set your camera to a low ISO setting. It will help you avoid grainy images.
  • Use a long-exposure setting. It will capture the light of the stars in the sky.
  • Experiment with different shutter speeds. It will help you find the setting that gives you the best results.
  • Take advantage of the ambient light. It will add a bit of color to your photos.
  • Enjoy the beauty of the festival! It is a special event that should be enjoyed and remembered.

What is Yi Peng Floating Lantern Festival?

Holding a Floating Lantern
Photo: Takeaway

The Yi Peng Festival is an annual celebration held in northern Thailand. It is also known as the “Festival of Lights.” The festival’s primary purpose is to commemorate the release of the spirit of a great teacher and their significance in Buddhist culture.

The festival is also when people release sky lanterns into the night sky accompanied by music. The festival is celebrated on the full moon in the second month of the Lanna lunar calendar. These lanterns are made of paper and bamboo; some are made with rice paper and lit with a small candle.

The candle heats the air inside the lantern, causing it to rise into the sky. People believe that releasing these lanterns will bring good luck and happiness to their lives. The festival is particularly popular with individuals like myself coming from all corners of the Earth to participate in the magic.

Man looking at the Floating Lanterns
Photo: Takeaway

Hundreds of locals assemble along the river banks to release their Krathong (post made of banana leaves) into the river to express their worship of the Goddess of Water. To truly experience the lantern festivals in Southeast Asia as the locals do, you must arrive a few days before it starts.

Tour the city to get the feel of what it is like to live in this ancient town. On the day of the festival, it is a good idea to arrive a couple of hours early.

Traffic can get ridiculous, and people are constantly pushing and shoving to get the best seat in the house. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter where you sit as the heavens light up. You can see the sky lanterns and the fireworks from virtually any vantage point.

I recommend the Yi Peng festival on your bucket list because it is stunning. The excitement from the locals and fellow tourists is palatable, and once all the lanterns are released and fireworks are set off, it becomes a night you will never forget. Take my word for it and make this a bucket list place because it truly is a fantastic place to see.

See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples

Where to Stay to See Yi Peng Festival?

Best Luxury Hotels

137 Pillars House

Spacious and Luxurious Hotel Room

The 137 Pillars House is a luxury hotel located in Bangkok, Thailand. The hotel is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and is surrounded by lush gardens.

The hotel offers guests luxurious accommodations, an award-winning spa, and excellent dining options. As Bangkok celebrates Loy Krathong, the hotel is a great place to stay to see the festival turn the Chiang Mai sky into a twinkling wonderland.

Best Mid-Range Hotels

Adventure Gate Hotel

Charming Hotel Room

It is an excellent option for a comfortable and affordable stay. The property features spacious rooms with all necessary amenities, complimentary WiFi, and breakfast.

Baan Tawai Village Hotel

Front Exterior of Baan Tawai Lanna Resort

The hotel is located in the heart of Chiang Mai’s handicraft village and features a variety of traditional Thai houses converted into guest rooms. The property also boasts an on-site restaurant, spa, and cultural center.

Best Budget Hotels

Stay Here Hostel

Double Bedroom

Located just a few minutes from the river where the festivities occur, this hostel provides guests with a convenient and affordable place to stay while enjoying the event. With its beautiful view of the river and easy access to the action, watching as the sky slowly filled with lanterns is accessible from the hotel.

Sleep Mai Thapae Chiang Mai Old City Lifestyle Hotel – SHA Plus

Building Front of Sleep Mai Hotel

Sleep Mai Thapae Chiang Mai Old City Lifestyle Hotel – SHA Plus is one of the best places to stay if you want to enjoy the floating lantern festival.

The hotel is located within walking distance of the main festivities, and its staff will be happy to help you find the best places to watch the action.


Ban Pongphan

Chic Hotel Room

Ban Pongphan is a small, family-owned rental apartment complex in the heart of Chiang Mai. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for a quiet, peaceful getaway, and the owners are always happy to help you with anything you need. The apartments are simple but comfortable, and the views from the balcony are stunning.

Other Lantern Festivals

The sky lanterns festival is a time when people all over the world release stars into the sky. It’s a time to remember those who have passed away and celebrate life. Families gather to create beautiful sky lanterns and send them off into the night. It’s a magical event that reminds us of the interconnectedness of all things.

Loy Krathong Festival, Thailand

Floating Lanterns in the Sky

The Loy Krathong, or the Loi Krathong Festival, celebrates the end of the rainy season in Thailand. It occurs on the 12th month of the Thai lunar calendar. The festival is celebrated by releasing floating lotus baskets with candles into the waters.

Losar Lantern Festival, Bhutan

The Losar Lantern Festival is when Buddhists in Bhutan celebrate the New Year by releasing paper lanterns into the sky. It is a fantastic sight to see hundreds of these lanterns floating up into the air, and it is said that this ritual symbolizes the release of all of the year’s troubles and worries.

The festival is an integral part of Bhutanese culture, and it is a time when people come together to celebrate the New Year.

The festival is a time of hope and positivity, and it is the event that brings together families and friends. The lanterns symbolize the release of the year’s troubles and worries, and the fireworks display is a spectacular way to end the festival.

See Related: Summer Festival Madness: Ways to Survive

Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival’s Lotus Lantern Festival in South Korea

The Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival is an annual international film festival in Bucheon, South Korea. The festival is a part of the festival and celebrates the release of stars. Hundreds of lanterns are set afloat on the rivers and lakes of South Korea during the festival—the light the lantern releases are said to guide the way for lost souls.

The festival is beautiful, with the lanterns bobbing gently on the water and the lights reflecting on the calm surface. It is among the floating lantern festival to see.

The Gion Matsuri Festival in Kyoto, Japan

The Gion Matsuri festival in Kyoto, Japan, is one of the most famous lantern festivals in the world. Every July, it celebrates the city’s patron deity, Yasaka Shrine.

One of the festival’s most popular events is the procession of floats, or “hook.” These towering wooden structures are decorated with elaborate lanterns.

The sky lanterns festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand, is similar in various locations throughout Japan. Gion Matsui commemorates the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Participants write their wishes on a paper lantern and release it, a beautiful water lantern festival, into the water. 

Spring Lantern Festival, China

Lit Hanged Lanterns
Lanterns” by Azalea Long is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The Spring Lantern Festival is one of the most important festivals in China. It celebrates the first full moon and the end of the Chinese New Year, embarrassing the optimistic future. 

It is also the time when people traditionally release lanterns into the sky. The festival is also a time for families to come together and enjoy food and entertainment.

See Related: Most Beautiful Cities in the World

Rise Lantern Festival, Las Vegas

The Rise Lantern Festival is an event that celebrates the beauty of life and is celebrated in Las Vegas. This evening, people from all over the world come together, releasing lanterns into the sky. The festival is a time for friends and families to come together and share in the magic of the night.

Full Moon Lantern Festival in Hoi An

Lantern Lights Reflecting on a River
Hoi An: full moon festival” by @felixtriller is marked with CC BY 2.0.

The Full Moon Lantern Festival is celebrated annually in Hoi An, Vietnam. The festival occurs on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and coincides with the full moon.

During the festival, locals and tourists release floating lanterns into the sky to commemorate departed loved ones. The occasion is also believed to be ideal for meditation, reflection, sacred practices, and honoring deceased ancestors.

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