THE NATION, EXPLORE, LOY KRATHONG, FULL MOON
A Night of fire and light
Again, it's time to celebrate the country's much-loved Loy Krathong Festival. So to go with the flow, check out these venues.
Published on November 22, 2007
With fireworks shooting up into every corner of the night sky, you might be dazzled, shaken, excited or just plain paranoid tonight. But there's a reason for this - under the auspicious full moon the whole country will be celebrating Loy Krathong.
Millions of people will be heading to the banks of waterways with beautiful baskets, or krathong, made of leaves and flowers, going down on their knees and asking the river goddess for forgiveness (especially if they've been polluting the water) and thanking her for fertility.
Slide your krathong into the water then watch it float away, taking your bad luck and worries with it - or so legend would have it.
Along riverbanks from Bangkok to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, and the even older cities of Sukhothai and Chiang Mai, the festival will hold revellers spellbound with spectacular light shows and fireworks.
So to go with the flow, check out these venues:
With its Colour of the River theme, Loy Krathong in the capital this year promises something extraspecial. Follow the Chao Phya River - from Krungthep Bridge to the Thon Buri Bridge - and take in the glittering flotilla of krathong, or board a boat for a trip that stops off at all the riverside temples - call (02) 221 2297. On the other hand, you could opt for the Royal Navy Convention Centre's celebration of history from 6.30 to 9.30pm - call (02) 250 5500. Just 999 people will be let through the door and tickets start at Bt1,000. Those who like to walk could make their way to the Phra Athit Pier to admire the floating krathong and take in some street performances, before heading off to the Golden Mount or Wat Saket for a temple fair.
Known as the first capital of the Thai kingdom, Sukhothai is credited with being Loy Krathong's birthplace. Tonight the festival will be celebrated at the Sukhothai Historical Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. There, against a backdrop of the ancient ruins, the highlights include a lightandsound show taking its cue from the history of the old kingdom, firework displays, cultural performances and more.
The sky in Chiang Mai will be brightly lit as the local Lanna folk release lanterns - sort of homemade hotair balloons - to glorify the mythical Chulamanee Pagoda in heaven. The venues are Tha Phae Gate and along the banks of Ping River, where cultural shows and processions will also take place.
However, your best bet might be the temples, where you can see monks and the people of Chiang Mai revive the traditional Yi Peng ceremony. People will also be hanging elaborate lanterns outside their homes.
If you want to be in the thick of things, head off to the bustling Ngua Lai Street near the Tha Phae Gate.
The northern province of Tak has a unique take on Loy Krathong with its tradition of krathong sai, or krathong "strings". The locals tie together whole fleets of coconutshell lanterns fuelled by paraffin, light the wicks and float them down the river. The best place to be is the Sompot Krung Rattanakosin 200 Years Bridge, where you can admire the fireworks, ooh and aah over a curtainofwater display and cheer for your favourite krathong sai.
According to history, the royal court in Ayutthaya was often too busy fighting off the Burmese to celebrate Loy Krathong - but country folk kept the tradition alive on backwaters. However, festivities resumed in full force during times of peace, and tonight the promising venues are the Bangsai Royal Folks Arts and Crafts Centre and the Muang district.
Bangsai will recreate the ancient royal court with its "Loy Krathong Tam Pratip", while locals will participate in the Best Lantern and Light contest.
Then there's the Loy Krathong Si Mum Muang held in all four corners of Ayutthaya, with activities including a lantern competition, a Miss Noppamas beauty contest and cultural performances.
Down South, the residents of Songkhla province will be turning this festival into a celebration of His Majesty's 80th birthday with the Royal Celebration Lantern Festival, which will continue until December 5. The festival will take place at public parks in the Hat Yai district and spectators can expect to see lanterns shaped to look like anything from elegant swans to firebreathing dragons and dinosaurs.