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Lantern Filled Skies: Yi Peng Festival

At Banana Tree, our current Christmas menu provides you with a traditional taste of pan-Asian cuisine, whilst getting you in the festive mood. November is the month for celebrating and in Southeast Asia, there’s plenty going on if you want a last-minute trip away before Christmas. In Chiang Mai, the Yi Peng Festival occurs every year around mid-November to release floating lanterns in the sky.

Why Are Lanterns Released?

Thailand is known for its colourful celebrations and Yi Peng is no different. The origin of the lanterns being used for the festival comes from the influence of brahmanism and the religion of Buddhists and Hinduism in the region. King Rama IV opted for the use of light and lanterns as a way of honouring the Lord Buddha and to also release the suffering that those who take part in the festival have been burdened with for the previous year.

The lanterns are a beautiful way of lighting up the sky and although they have only been used in the last 150 years in central and southern part of Thailand, the kingdom of Lanna has been using rice paper lanterns since the 13th century.

What are the Traditions?

The lanterns and fireworks are at the climax of the festival, but there are plenty of traditions that go on throughout the day. Yi Peng falls on the full moon within the 12th month of the Thai calendar, so this year it happened on the 22nd of November. Locals also celebrate Loy Krathong Festival during this time, which pays tribute to the Goddess of Water.

Yi Peng is a holiday for reflection. Many locals to Thailand will go to their local temple and make offerings to the monks, listening to them pray and meditate. The lanterns are the main event of the festival and can be enjoyed by anyone who purchases one to release. These celebrations go on throughout the night so you’ll sleep well once it’s over.

Where Can You Celebrate?

The releasing of the lanterns normally happens in Mae Jo University but as a tourist, this location is extremely expensive to get into and so popular that you might not even get a ticket, even if you were willing to pay the cost. However, there are plenty of private events nearby that cost less and are on a slightly smaller scale. 

To participate, you will use one of the flickering torches provided to light a lantern, allowing it to build heat before releasing it into the sky. Many will write down their wishes for the new year or decorate them further.

Food vendors will set up nearby so you can fill your bellies with all that the local cuisine has to offer, whilst gazing up at the spectacle above you. You might want to note down the tasty treats you have to wow guests back home as part of your Christmas dinner.

If you’re in charge of throwing a Christmas party, Chelmsford is a great choice and it’s home to one of our restaurants. Book a table to enjoy our three-course festive menu, available with vegan and veggie options!