Thailand’s popular Loy Krathong festival, famous for floating some kind of decorated baskets on waterways and releasing lanterns into the night sky, falls on Wednesday, November 25, this year.
Also knows as the “festival of lights”, Loy Krathong is not a public or Buddhist holiday, so businesses and bars will be open as usual. As opposed to the Songkran “water festival” in April, it is a rather contemplative and romantic festival celebrated each year on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar.
The Meaning of Loy Krathong
A so-called krathong is a small raft or decorated basket, traditionally made from a section of a banana tree trunk and decorated with elaborately-folded banana leaves, incense sticks, flowers and candles. Modern krathongs are often made of styrofoam but are increasingly banned for environmental reasons. The Thai word loy means “to float”, so Loy Krathong could be translated as “to float a raft/decorated basket”.
During the evening hours, Thai people gather at riversides, lakes, or at the sea in order to release (=loy) their krathongs. This is accompanied by fireworks and the releasing of small hot balloons, which light the nightly sky above the waters. Beauty contests are also a regular feature, and girls in many bars will dress up in traditional Thai costumes. A large number of bars in Pattaya will also have special Loy Krathong parties.
The cultural roots of the Loy Krathong rites are believed to be of ancient Indian origin. As on most festive occasions, Thai people – especially lovers – simply wish for good luck in the coming year.
The best place to celebrate Loy Krathong in Pattaya is on the beaches of Pattaya and Jomtien where thousands of locals will gather after dark to float their krathongs with the outgoing tide and release balloons into the night sky. If you’ve got a Thai darling it’s a romantic tradition to float a krathong onto the sea together and wish for good luck and happiness in the coming year.