Video Spotlight: Floating Lanterns of Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • Paul Tavner
  • 4 December 2011

A short but sweet video is our pick for this week’s Video Spotlight.

This footage captures the moment hundreds of lanterns are released into the skies above Chiang Mai, Thailand. The ultra-light paper body fills with hot gas and sends each lantern soaring skyward, the suspended flame propelling its glowing form into the night. As the huge group lifts into the air, the breeze catches the lanterns and carries them peacefully into the night, each light gradually fading to a bright speck, one of many points of light in the evening sky.

The tradition is a major annual event in Chiang Mai as well as in other parts of Thailand. The release of lanterns is part of a festival known as Yi Peng, a holdover from the ancient kingdom of Lanna which used to cover most of what is now Northern Thailand. The ritual has Buddhist origins and the release of lanterns is believed to bring good luck to those who take part.

In addition, the timing of Yi Peng has come to coincide with another major Thai festival – Loi Krathong. The two are now often celebrated simultaneously at the start of November, leading to major celebrations. The festival of Loi Krathong involves the launching of small rafts as an offering. These rafts often contain flames of their own, so both the rivers and skies of Chiang Mai are filled with light during the festivities. Of course, the streets are packed too, so be sure to book a hotel in Chiang Mai well in advance.

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Paul Tavner

Born and raised in the heart of the British countryside, Paul has lived and worked in London for the last four years. He loves most things about city life, but tries to make regular escapes on travel adventures to maintain his sanity. Paul is Techie-in-chief of the Travel Word and tries his best to keep things running smoothly behind the scenes.
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Asia, cities, festivals & events, holy sites, indigenous culture, local knowledge, South-Eastern Asia, Thailand, video spotlight, whl.travel,

5 Responses to “Video Spotlight: Floating Lanterns of Chiang Mai, Thailand”

  1. Nue says:

    Great article! I have added it to my social bookmarkings. If you want to know what to do in Chiang Mai, I founded this great adventure website for everyone planning their holiday in Thailand. You can scroll trough all tours in Chiang Mai, combine adventure packages with city trips and more! For the adventure seekers we even have jungle trekking, ziplining, abseiling, rafting and rock climbing tours for your excitement. http://www.adventurecenterchiangmai.com

  2. george says:

    Guys. Lighten up. These things are made of cheap, biodegradable paper a wire. I have seen them after lying on the ground for approximately six months. The paper was completely dissolved and the wire had rusted about 50% away. The only animal that would choke on this stuff would be retarded animals that probably needed to be weeded out anyway.

  3. Hi Paul, thanks for the response.

    I have seen lanterns up close and they have wires to hold the candle. Was at a function where they let a few dozens fly: they were all carried anywhere the wind would take them, ending up in the ocean, in the local forest, peoples homes… A disaster!….hence my attitude towards this practice.


  4. paul says:

    Hi John,

    Yes – all valid points. I have seen more envrionmentally-friendly lanterns around, but I’m not sure the extent to which they’re employed. The traditional rice paper ones probably burn up fairly cleanly, but metal may be a problem.

    That said, this ceremony does take place in Chiang Mai, which is relatively built up, so the majority of lantern debris probably falls within city limits and can be tidied up safely.

    Anyway, I sincerely hope the wire-free versions continue to increase in popularity so that people can continue to enjoy the festivities, without cause to worry.


  5. First reaction: HORROR!

    Ok, where are all these ending up when they drop back down to earth?
    What are they made of; are the material used going to choke a bird, fish or mamal?

    I was the first to move to ban this practice in my destination, for two concerns mentioned above.

    All I see is a massive pollution & environmental problem…

    Like a party like anyone else, but environment always comes first.


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