When is Loy Krathong 2015?
This year, the Loy Krathong festivities in Soppong (Pangmapha District. Mae Hong Son Province) fall on 24, 25 and 26 November 2015, with the 26th being the full moon day of the twelfth lunar month, and the day when most of the festivities happen ("Loy Kathong Yai"). To many, Loy Krathong (sometimes called 'yee ping' or the 'festival of lights') is the most beautiful festival and ceremony of the year in Thailand.
Being a small and relatively remote village, Soppong is a wonderful place to participate in the Loy Krathong festivities. You may have seen the grander celebrations in Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, or the villages closer to the big cities that are more accessible to tourists, but Soppong is still a very traditional and much quieter experience. Thankfully, there are no nerve wracking fireworks. Last year, we counted only six western visitors along the parade route!
On the main Loy Krathong day (Thursday, 26 November this year), everyone in the village makes their "krathong", a small boat made with a slice of banana tree for a base, decorated with flowers, folded pieces of banana leaves, candles, and sticks of incense. "Loy" means to float, so Loy Krathong means to float a krathong. We will be making our krathongs at the Inn, and if you are staying with us, you are invited to make your own with us. We even supply free consulting and materials.
During the evening just after dusk, there will be the Soppong Loy Krathong Parade...nothing like the huge ones in Chiang Mai and Sukhothai, but fun nevertheless, and truly an authentic small village celebration. Different groups in the village will build flower-covered parade floats on pickups and trailers (there were eight last year), and then everyone dresses up in their finest traditional clothes, lights a candle and joins the parade, which runs down the main street right in front of our front gate. The highlight of course will be the float carrying Soppong's Loy Krathong 2015 Princess!
And if you are in Soppong a few days before Loy Krathong, you can join our village group and help make a Loy Krathong float for the parade. Even if you don't, everyone is welcome to join the parade. All of the festivities are within easy walking distance. Or, if you just want to relax and take in the parade, we will have tables and chairs set up, and you can just have a drink and and watch the parade pass by – right in front of the Inn.
Just before the parade starts, everyone in the village lights candles all around their property. The village council even lines both sides of the main road and parade route with candle lamps. It's a magical view of the village then, and some compare the scene to Christmas lights in western countries. We will also have some "Khom Loy" for you to launch if you wish (see the photo to the right). These are the paper hot air balloons with a candle inside that are part of Loy Krathong in northern Thailand. Apart from being a beautiful sight, the traditional belief is that by launching these illuminated balloons, an individual can send one's sins and bad luck away into the sky. People who are launching a khom loy will pray that his or her sins and bad luck will float away high into the sky with the balloon.
And then, after the parade, we will walk down our candle-lit stone steps to the Lang River, light the candles and incense on our krathongs, make a wish, and float the candles down the river. If you are a couple, it is traditional for you to make your wishes and float your krathong together, and many Thai people consider this to be not only the most fun festival of the year, but also the most romantic. In fact, an old Thai proverb says "when a boy and a girl float a krathong together, they will be lovers in this life or in the next life".
So, if you would like to join us for the festivities, help build a Loy Krathong float and join the parade, make your own krathong and float it in the river, and generally just be part of our village during the Loy Krathong festival, just send us an email. All are welcome to walk down our candle-lit steps to the river and float your krathong, whether you are staying with us or not. If you would like to join us, here is a rough idea of what we can plan for you:
Loy Krathong 2015 at Soppong River Inn:
Whether or not you are staying with us, everyone is welcome to stop in and enjoy the celebration with us. Soppong River Inn is such a convenient place for Loy Krathong too, with the Loy Krathong parade forming up and beginning in the road right in front of our gate, and with the Lang River running thorugh our property so that you can float your krathong after the parade.
24th and 25th November 2015: Join our local group in constructing our Loy Krathong float, which will compete with the other villagers' floats in the Loy Krathong Parade on the evening of the 12th.
26th November, during the day: Joy will provide materials and help you design and construct your own krathong, which you can float down the Lang River later that evening.
26th November at sunset: The Loy Krathong Parade starts at our end of the village, and proceeds for about 1 km to the temple at the other end of Soppong. Our front gate is located not more than 100 metres from the parade starting point, so it is always good fun to watch everyone getting their costumes just right and the lights fired up on their floats. You can join the parade (along with our group's float), and you will no doubt be asked to dance along with the others. Or, if you are feeling lazy and would rather observe with drink in hand, you can just sit at the tables in front of our cafe and watch the parade and traditional dancing, listen to the music makers, and take in the festivities without going anywhere. At the end of the parade, the winning parade float will be announced, along with Miss Loy Krathong 2015! There is a big celebration on the temple grounds with a music stage and a special night market.
26th November, after the parade and celebration at the temple: Join us at our front gate to launch some Khom Loy hot air balloons and make some wishes as they rise high into the sky. After that, we will walk down our candlelit steps, down to the Lang River behind our inn, where you can light the candles and incense on your krathong, make a wish, and let your krathong float away down the river. Remember, we are not in a city, so it's quiet and dark down along the river, except for our candles and the full moon.
And after we float our krathongs, we might get together for a drink or two on our terrace over the river. But don't expect a huge party experience...Soppong is a sleepy little traditional village and the Loy Krathong festivities wind down rather early. And thankfully, the local council have banned firecrackers for Loy Krathong in Soppong, so we do not experience the nearly apocolyptic experience of millions of firecrackers exploding late into the night, such as you would experience along the Ping River in Chiang Mai.
Naturally, if you are a guest staying with us, there is no "package charge" for any of the above, and of course even if you are not staying with us, all are welcome to join us in making a wish and floating your krathong down our little stretch of the river. We can supply your krathong, or you can make it yourself. But most importantly, we do hope we can help you enjoy and experience a traditional northern Thai Loy Krathong.
With our location being up in the mountains, the evenings can be quite cool later in the evening. Be sure and bring something warm to wear.
Getting ready for the start of Loy Krathong parade, in front of our cafe
Shan Dancers - Loy Kathong parade
The Loy Krathong Song
And of course there is a Loy Krathong song...playing morning until night on the radio, and with everyone humming it whilst making their krathongs.
In Thai, using Roman characters:
Pen Duan Sip Song
Translated into English:
full moon of the twelfth month,
Now that you have the lyrics, here is a recording of the song.
If you have the Quicktime plug-in for your browser, just use this control panel to listen to the song:
Last updated 28 June 2015