Chiang Mai Festivals & Events On December 2012
1. King’s Birthday – December 5th, celebrated by the whole of Thailand, with much of Chiang Mai featuring a range of celebrations and decorations
2. Chiang Mai Mardi Gras – throughout December, parades of costumed dancers and bands, together with plenty of entertainment to go around, make this an event to remember. The Chiang Mai Mardi Gras is based around Changklan Road and lasts for several days
3. Chiang Mai Food Festival – throughout December, a chance to sample traditional Thai cuisine at its finest and enjoy cookery demonstrations
4 The Yi Peng festival – is an off shoot of the Loy Krathong festival (also spelled “Loi Krathong”), an ancient Thai festival that occurs on the 12th full moon every year. It’s a magical experience – a festival that is both romantic and explosive, peaceful and wildly energetic. The festival predominantly involves the widespread making of “krathong” – small, hand-made boats usually made out of banana leaves, decorated with flowers and incense sticks, and a lit candle. They are sent down the river during the festival in their droves.
Loy Krathong is not a religious festival. The launching of a krathong is a spritual gesture, a lasting tradition. The Thai people believe it will bring them good luck as these boats are gifts to the river gods. There is also a romantic slant to the festival – it is said that if a couple release a krathong together and it stays alight until out of sight, their love will last forever. The festival is quite a spectacle. Literally thousands of these little candle-lit boats float on the water. There is an air of respect, of tranquility about the ritual. Children, families, couples partake in the launching of their krathong together. It’s a special moment. a thoughtful time.
In Chiang Mai (northern Thailand), over the past few decades an offshoot of the Loy Krathong festival has emerged. Known as the “Yi Peng” festival – or festival of lights – the festival takes the original boat ritual up to the sky. Here, people light a lantern that is kind of like a personal hot air balloon and set it adrift, sending all of their troubles away.
The lantern, or “khom loy”, is a very simple, environmentally-safe rice-paper structure. Its lighting involves a few preparatory steps…you light its fuel cell, unfurl the lantern, wait patiently as the lantern fills with gas (from the flame’s burning) and hold it to the ground to make sure the gas doesn’t escape. As it starts to fill, you feel its tug. It wants to leave. You raise it up carefully, then, when you feel the time is right, you gently let it go and it soars up to the sky. You can watch its trajectory for ages – you can see it until it is so far away it looks like a star. When all around you others are doing the same, it is an amazing feeling to see your lantern join everyone else’s. You have helped to create a constellation of sorts. You are reminded that individually, you are unique and important, while also entirely belonging to something collective and universal.
Like the boats, the lanterns’ launching is a celebration. There is a lot of love in it, fun and joy. The sensation of its release cannot help but release a childlike wonder. As a result the festival atmosphere is electric; everyone is euphoric. A further extension of the lantern festival is fireworks mayhem – all through the festival, people launch rockets, sparklers – anything that razzles and dazzles. All night long the city’s soundscape is filled with the the bangs and crackles of fireworks booming and erupting.