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Do You Like Lantern Festival? Here Are The Most Spectacular Lantern Festivals In Asia That You Shouldn’t Miss

31 May, 2018 | Travel Blog

  Nothing is more magical than a spectacle of thousands of lanterns flying in the sky or floating on the water. The twinkling lights remind us of a beautiful dream which we all have at least once in our lifetime.

1. Lantern Festival, Chiang Mai, Thailand

When the rivers are filled to their fullest and the moon is at its brightest, it is the perfect time for Thai people to ‘make merit’. They will set their Loy Krathong off on the river, or light a paper lantern and release it to the sky after making a wish for good fortune. Being the former capital of Lanna Kingdom, it’s no surprise when the “Rose of North Thailand” holds the largest festival.

Monks are releasing paper lanterns at the festival

How is it celebrated?

Lantern festival in Chiang Mai includes Yi Peng and Loy Krathong. Although some visitors misconceive they are two names of one event, actually, the two festivals are very much different. In Loy Krathong, people make small banana-leaf-baskets (Krathong), decorate them with lily flowers, candles, and incense sticks then float them to the river. Some people put a coin into their Krathong as an offering to the river spirits. Alongside the ceremony, there are also parades, fireworks, and other cultural activities.

'Krathongs' are decorated nicely with colorful flowers, incenses, and candles

While Loy Krathong happens in many destinations throughout the Kingdom of Thailand, the remarkable Yi Peng festival could be seen only in Chiang Mai. The lantern is made from a thin fabric, stretched over a thin bamboo frame. When the fuel or candle is lit, the hot air trapped inside will create a thrust to the lantern to float into the sky, bringing with it all the bad, ills, and sins. Visitors can also join many interesting activities in the festival time, including lantern contests, beauty pageants, Krathong parades, local games, and traditional Lanna folk dance during the evenings of the 2nd and the 3rd of the festival.

Where to see it?

- Tudung Kasethan Lanna (Lanna Meditation Sanctuary), which is at the back of Chiang Mai Mae Jo University.

- Along the banks of Mae Ping River.

Who is it for?

Yi Peng festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. This is perfect for either solo, couple, family, group, or best friends.

When to visit?

Lantern Festival takes place on the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, thus the exact date of the festival changes every year but it usually falls in November. If you need more information, please feel free to contact our Thailand travel experts. If you want to witness in person the breathtaking view of a thousand stars twinkling both in the sky and in the river, our Lantern Festival Thailand is specially designed to fulfill your dream.

2.  Hoi An Lantern Festival, Vietnam

Lantern Festival is another reason among many ones that the UNESCO old town bewitches the rest of the world coming for a visit. If you make a wish before releasing a lantern, it is believed to come true.

Silk lanterns are hanging in front of boutique shops' doors

How is it celebrated?

Every full moon Hoi An offers a free show of lights and colors to visitors from all over the world. The town is lighted up with colorful silk lanterns in all shapes when the night falls down. Local and shop owners hang their lanterns over their front doors, windows, and patios. People burn incense and make an outdoor offering to the family ancestor with fruits, flowers, and candles. The whole old town is immersed in a charming ambiance of glittering colors and the fragrant smell of incense. On the bank of the Hoai River, lotus flower-shaped paper lanterns are sold at the price of only 5,000VND. The seller will help you to light its tiny candle, and as you release it into the river, make a wish for one thing you want in life and wait for it to come true. For more interesting, you can cruise downstream on a boat to past the twinkling town. Your soul will be melted when you admire hundreds of brightly lanterns floating on the water from the distance before one by one disappears into the darkness of night.

Small paper lanterns are released on the water, bring their owners' wishes

Where to see it?

- The Old Town’s center. - Along the banks of the Hoai River

Who is it for?

Being one of the most romantic destinations of Vietnam, a visit to Hoi An will be perfect for couples to bring memories that are beyond expectations. What is more magical than knowing that your love will last forever by whispering a wish? Best friend travel is great, too. This lovely town has many things waiting for both of you to discover.

When to visit?

On the 14th and 15th of every month in the lunar calendar. But the two biggest festivals are the Mid-Autumn Festival and the first full moon in the lunar calendar. Due to its glamour, most of the trips to Vietnam often include a visit to Hoi An. Either you stay a couple of days or a longer time, you still miss it when you leave. If Hoi An is in your mind, let us help you to find out more about this attraction.

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3. Shwe Kyin Floating Light Festival, Myanmar

The Floating Festival happens on the 16th of Thadingyut - the seventh month of the Myanmar calendar, to welcome Buddha and his disciples returning after 3 months of the preaching of Lent. Shwe Kyin Festival is less famous than the Loy Krathong Festival of Thailand in scale, but it is truly intimate.

How is it celebrated?

The celebration starts at dawn. Men and women in the neighborhood gather along the Shwe Kyin River which is the main stage of the festival. Traditional troupes perform Burmese dances and songs on boats, locals take part in boat racings in the excited cheering of spectators on both banks. As the night falls, thousands of paper lanterns will be floated on the water in a ritual that is believed to bring good fortune. Firework displays will light up the dark sky while floating candles illuminate the water underneath.

Where to see it?

Along the banks of Shwe Kyin River, Shwe Kyin village.

Who is it for?

Everyone loves the culture and tradition of Lower Myanmar.

When to visit?

The day after the full moon day of Thadingyut. It often falls in October but the date changes each year. Therefore, check carefully before visiting. 

4. Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Taiwan

Historically, this practice was used as a signal which was sent to the villagers hiding in the mountains from the bandit’s attack that it was now safe to return to their houses. Nowadays, it’s the second biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world and is named one of the festivals to attend before you die.

Pingxi festival is named as one of the festivals to attend before you die

How is it celebrated?

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes part in three days held at three different places. Thousands of free lanterns are provided to visitors to participate in the festival. The lantern has 4 or 5 sides where you can write on any wishes that you are looking for in the New Year.    While you can see thousands of lanterns flying up at a time in Yi Peng Festival by every participant, lanterns in Pingxi Festival are released in 3 sessions in the main stage areas. There are music and other performances between each session while the next wave of lanterns is prepared to take off to fly gracefully in the sky. If you start early, you will have enough time to check out Old Shifen Street first. Here, you can join thousands of people there, buy a big lantern, write your wishes, set it free, and wait for the blessing to come back to you.

The lantern has 4 or 5 sides where you can write on any wishes that you want in life before releasing it into the sky

Where to see?

Jingtong Elementary School - Pingxi Junior High School - Shifen Sky Lantern Square - Old Shifen Street

Who is it for?

It’s suitable for solo travelers, family, and friends. There are displays of huge lanterns with creative designs that delight everyone of all ages.

When to visit?

From the 13th to the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar. It often falls from late February to early March.

5. Vesak, Sri Lanka

Vesak, also known as Buddha Day, is a big holiday for Buddhists in Sri Lanka as well as in other parts of the world, especially in Asia. The festival commemorates the Birth, the Enlightenment, and the Passing Away of Gautama Buddha. This is the time of compassion and kindness where  Buddhists make efforts to bring happiness to unlucky people and try to live according to the teaching of Buddha. This is also a time to great joy and happiness. People decorate their houses, illuminate temples, and float lanterns to wish for good fortune.

How is it celebrated?

There are many religious activities during Vesak in Sri Lanka. Buddhists worship, offer flowers, light lamps, and burn incense in temples. People decorate their houses and hang traditional Vesak koodu (colorful lanterns) in front of their homes, along streets, and other public places. Toranas (electrically lit pandols) are set up every corner to illuminate the streets and Dansalas (free food stalls) offer free food and drinks to passersby. Mime and street theatre performances are easy to find throughout the cities.

Where to see it?

Every street in Colombo city, but the three most beautiful places are Gangarama Temple, Dehiwala, and Galle Face Green.

Who is it for?

Vesak is the biggest festival in Sri Lanka, it attracts all kinds of travelers from all over the world to find out more about the land of religious relics and ancient ruins.

When to visit?

The cultural festival takes place on the full moon of the lunar month of Vesak which is May in the Gregorian calendar.

All the festivals follow the traditional calendars which might confuse most westerners. If you don’t want to miss out on these spectacular lantern festivals, chat with our travel experts to find out the exact day of each festival and customize your own tour to witness them in person.


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