Yee Peng Festival

Yee Peng Festival (Yi Peng) Chiang Mai

Lantern Festival during Loy Krathong

Perhaps the most magical and well-known festival in the Land of Smiles is the Thai Lantern Festival. This festival, also known as the Yee Peng Festival (Yi Peng Festival), is marked by thousands of floating lanterns being released into the night sky. This festival is celebrated throughout northern Thailand, but one city, in particular, attracts many visitors from all over the world: Chiang Mai.

On the same day as the Yee Peng Festival, another similar but slightly different festival is celebrated by Thais throughout the country. This national Thai festival is known as Loy Krathong. It can be recognized by the candle-lit floats that float along the waterways and the fireworks that light up the night sky.

If you happen to be in Chiang Mai on the twelfth full moon of the lunar calendar, traditionally in November, you can celebrate both festivals together as one huge festival of lights that makes for an unforgettable vacation!

What is Yee Peng

floating lanterns during yeepeng lantern international festival in chiang mai

The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is a religious holiday celebrated in the northern region of Thailand. The traditions date back to the ancient times of the Lanna Kingdom. Once a year, people gather to honor Buddha and ask for good luck and wisdom before lighting the lanterns or “khom loy” and releasing them gently into the night sky. These floating lanterns create a magical landscape of soft, glowing lights as far as the eye can see.

Local Thais also dress up for the occasion, wearing their best Lanna costumes. Many go to their local temple and pay their respects to Buddha. All over the city you will find beautifully decorated temples and houses adorned with small tea lights, hanging lanterns and colorful streamers in anticipation of this event.

What is Loy Krathong

floating krathong in river during loy krathong festival

Loy Krathong, which is often spelled Loi Krathong, goes back to an ancient harvest festival that honors the water goddess and the importance of local rivers to village life.

One of the most important aspects of this festival is releasing a floating vessel decorated with beautiful flower arrangements, incense and candles or a “Krathong“. This is to free you from the sins and burdens of the past year and bring good fortune and wealth.

This holiday is celebrated nationwide. However, the traditions are celebrated differently in different regions. In the provinces of northern Thailand, such as Chiang Mai, krathongs are made of artistically folded banana leaves in the shape of a boat or a bowl. Further south, for example in Trak province, locals hollow out coconut shells and fill them with wax before sending them down the river with a wish.

Where to Celebrate

where to celebrate yeepeng festival

Yee Peng and Loy Krathong are celebrated throughout Thailand, but Chiang Mai is one of the best places to celebrate these festivals. Both Loy Krathong Chiang Mai and Yee Peng Chiang Mai coincide for a spectacular festival that spans several days.

Very close to Chiang Mai city center, in the area between Tha Pae Gate and the Mae Ping River, visitors can watch breathtaking parades and beauty contests for free. There are also hundreds of vendors selling delicious Thai food, beautiful handmade krathongs, and packages of lanterns.

If you are looking for an organized event to celebrate this festival of lights, there are several main venues not far from the city center. Read more about the Yee Peng Lanna International, Mae Ping River, Mae Rim, and Doi Saket events below.

Yee Peng Lanna International

monks releasing lit lantern during yeepeng festival

Perhaps the largest number of people releasing lanterns at the same time is the Yee Peng Lanna International Event. It takes place at the Lanna Dhutanka Temple behind Mae Jo University roughly 15 kilometers north of Chiang Mai’s Old City. Up to 4,000 people are invited to the event, which begins with a traditional Thai khantoke dinner accompanied by dancers and musicians. Later in the evening, Buddhist monks recite traditional prayers and offer blessings for health and prosperity before everyone raises their lanterns into the sky in a coordinated mass display.

Near the Mae Ping River

celebrating yeepeng festival by the river

Along the banks of the Mae Ping River, especially the areas surrounding the Narawat and Iron Bridges just east of the city center’s Tha Pae Gate, crowds of people gather together and release banana leaf krathongs into the water and paper lanterns into the sky at varying times throughout the night. It has a particularly enchanting atmosphere thanks to the lights gently floating both in the water and the sky.

Mae Rim

woman preparing to release lit paper lantern into the sky during yeepeng festival

Visitors interested in participating in an alternative mass lantern release can go to the CAD Khom Loi Lantern Festival. This event is hosted by the Cowboy Army Riding Club in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district, roughly 10 kilometers northwest of the city. Between 3,000 to 4,000 people attend, creating a spectacular view. Visitors can watch chanting and meditating monks on a circular stage, similar to the one set up at the Yee Peng Lanna International event.

Doi Saket

monks under tree decorated with traditional thai lanterns during yeepeng festival

Doi Saket is the countryside 30 kilometers northeast of the city center of Chiang Mai. There you will find a smaller venue hosted at the Doi Saket Hot Springs. Vendors sell Thai food, and there is a small river nearby to float krathongs. Lanterns are also released together in a more intimate celebration.

When is yi peng celebrated?

monks holding candles during yeepeng festival

Yee PengYee Peng and Loi Krathong are celebrated annually, with dates changing according to the lunar calendar. In 2022, the celebrations will be held on November 8, the night of the full moon. In some cities, the celebrations begin and end several days before and after. Make a note of the dates!