Did you know that you can build your own Milky Way?
It’s simple, really.
You need a field, a crowd, a few candle wicks and some pale paper lanterns. These will be your baby stars.
Working with a massive group of stranger works better for the ‘wow’ factor, but a tighter group of friends will still put up a constellation or two.
And if you happen to be around during the full moon in Thailand, it helps to come to Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong.
(They’ll have everything you need in ample supply.)
Loy Krathong, also known as Yi Peng, is an annual Thai full moon holiday, celebrating either by sending hot-air lanterns into the sky or candles in bamboo and flower floats down a river. Though the official holiday only usually lasts three days, every night in the week around it will be constantly lit up by points of light where-ever you look.
So if you’ve ever wanted to create your own starry sky, this is the time to do it.
There’s just a few steps.
When night falls, light your candles and gather your lanterns. Some people will choose to turn theirs into messengers, writing wishes or hopes or words to live by on top.
Light the wicks of your lanterns, and let them slowly fill with air.
Once full with hot air, you’ll start to feel the lantern pulling away from you, ready to fly. But don’t let it go just yet!
Wait until everyone else is ready. Wait until as many other lanterns as possible are full. Wait until a firework blasts loud and sharp directly over you – the signal to begin.
Wait until just the right moment, and let go.
And watch as the Milky Way rises up right above your head.
(If a picture says a thousand words, what about a movie? Check out the video below from Dayn, who was at the same Loy Krathong celebration I was – it’s the next best thing if you can’t be there!)
Loy Krathong and Yi Peng are two names for almost identical holidays in Thailand, which usually occur on the November full moon. While Loy Krathong is celebrated throughout Thailand by sending candle-lit bamboo floats down rivers, Yi Peng is the name of the Lanna (northern Thai) festival which celebrates with all those brilliant paper lanterns.
Where can I see the lanterns go up?
Chiang Mai is the best place. People will be flying paper lanterns during the entire week around Loy Krathong / Yi Peng, but the biggest (and most spectacular) concentration of lanterns tends to go up at the annual celebration at Maejo University. This year, it hosted two – one for free, on the Saturday before the full moon, and one for a fee, on the Saturday after. I recommend the free one ;)
Even just a week before this year’s celebration, details were hazy on when and where the lantern release would happen. Contact your hostel, hotel, or (if you don’t mind listening to a pitch) a tour operator in Chiang Mai for the latest dates!