Celebrating Loy Krathong 2023: Thailand’s Festival of Water and Light

The Loy Krathong Festival (ลอยกระทง) is an annual tradition that is celebrated throughout Thailand. Practiced since the Sukhothai Era, it is a ceremony where Thais come together near bodies of water to pay their respects to the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha (พระแม่คงคา). Also known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ or the ‘Floating Lantern Festival’ – this tradition is celebrated during the full moon, especially around lakes, rivers, and ponds where people can gather during the evening to release their krathongs on the waterway.

Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand
Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand – Source: Fan Club Thailand

Thais believe that by releasing your krathong into the water, you are letting go of the anger and bad luck you’ve been holding onto in the past thus welcoming good fortune that’s free of negativity in the coming year. Apart from the floating lanterns, many places also host a series of cultural activities, such as traditional Ram Wong dance performances (รำวง), krathong-making competitions, and a Noppamas beauty contest (ประกวดนางนพมาศ).

What is a Krathong?

Loy Krathong at HOMA
Loy Krathong at HOMA’s Rooftop Pool

The term “Krathong” (กระทง) translates to a basket or vessel and the word “Loy” (ลอย) means to float. Traditionally, a krathong is a beautifully-crafted basket made from natural materials, namely from a banana tree which can be found easily throughout Thailand.

Materials used to make a Krathong

  • A slice of a banana tree stalk
  • Banana leaves
  • Scissors
  • Wooden pins or toothpicks
  • A candle and some incense sticks
  • Decorative flowers

A banana stalk is cut and used as the round base, the banana leaves are folded as a wrap around the base, and flowers are placed at the top as a decoration. On the ritual side, people will place a lit candle and incense sticks in the center as an offering to the water goddess – with many adding a snip of their hair and nail clippings as a symbol to cast away bad luck.

When is the Loy Krathong Festival celebrated?

Every year, The Loy Krathong Festival falls on different dates depending on the moon but is fixed on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month of the Thai lunar calendar which is usually in November. This year, it will take place on Tuesday the 8th of November.

Loy Krathong at HOMA Rooftop Pool
Releasing krathongs into the water

Loy Krathong in Phuket

Loy Krathong can be celebrated with friends, family members, and is also popular among couples. We highly recommend you go out and experience the beauty of Loy Krathong in Phuket, especially if it’s your first time. However, we do suggest that you only make or purchase one that is compostable and friendly to nature.

The festivities of Loy Krathong are celebrated along all waterways and beaches with many hotels hosting their own activities. But if you’re looking for a more local experience around Phuket Town, we recommend that you hop over to Saphan Hin Park, Suan Luang Park, or Bangwad Dam during the evening. There most likely will be ready-made krathongs available for purchase. VIVA Restaurant on top of HOMA’s rooftop will also be hosting the festivities where guests can release krathongs into the pool. Other places that have gatherings include Patong Beach, Kata, and Nai Harn Lake.

Loy Krathong Festival
Floating Krathongs on water – Source: KKday

As the moonlight reflects upon the water, you’ll catch an array of glowing lights floating on the water’s surface – a truly romantic experience to remember. Before you join the celebration, make sure to watch a simple tutorial on how to make a krathong below.

Loy Krathong in Phuket at Saphan Hin Park

In Phuket, the heart of the festivities beats at Saphan Hin Park, conveniently close to Homa Phuket Town, making it an ideal location for locals and tourists staying nearby to join in this age-old tradition. The highlight is the crafting and floating of krathongs – small, beautifully decorated floats made from banana leaves. As these krathongs gently drift on water, they carry away our troubles, symbolizing a cleansing of the past and a hopeful gaze towards the future. For those who prefer convenience, there most likely will be ready-made krathongs available for purchase, allowing everyone to participate in this meaningful tradition easily.

Floating Krathongs on water – Source: KKday

How to make a Krathong

  1. Cut or slice a banana tree stalk into a circle shape. This will be used as the base of the krathong.
  2. Cut and attach banana leaves to cover the base. Use long strips of banana leaves to wrap around the base and attach them together using wooden pins or toothpicks.
  3. Cut and fold banana leaves into a lotus petal shape to be decorated above the base. Use wooden pins or toothpicks to hold the leaves and base together.
  4. Decorate the krathong with flowers. Flowers that are commonly used to decorate krathongs include lotus, roses, marigolds, and orchids.
  5. Place a small candle and incense sticks in the krathong. You can connect the candle to the base by using a toothpick and directly piercing the incense into the base. Make sure that the candle and incense are standing straight up. If they are weakly attached, it can cause the krathong to lose balance, capsize, or even catch on fire.
  6. Personalize Your Krathong. You can add additional decorations like small pieces of colored paper, ribbon, or any other biodegradable materials to personalize your Krathong.

Adding to the festival’s lively vibe are cultural performances. Loy Krathong is more than just a celebration, it mirrors Thailand’s profound respect for nature, spirituality, and community.

Whether you’re a first-timer or celebrating it as a cherished annual tradition, the festival combines tranquility and festivity in Thai culture. Enjoy your Loy Krathong celebration in Phuket!

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