Maejo University located just 11 miles from Chiang Mai’s city center in Thailand is the setting for an ancient ceremony dating back to the old Lanna kingdom which once ruled northern Thailand, and parts of Burma/Myanmar and Laos. This annual event which is held on the 2nd month of the Thai Lanna calendar draws well over 10,000 people. Known as Yi Peng (Thai Lantern Festival), this event is in fact a religious ceremony paying homage to Buddha.
People gather in the designated field at the university where religious ceremonies take place beginning at 5:00 PM. Once the sun goes down, the ceremonies conclude and thousands of lanterns known as khom loi are lit and released into the air upon the command of the monks leading the event. The lanterns are typically made from a thin fabric, or rice paper, and have a wax fuel cell in the middle which when ignited sends heat and smoke into the balloon shaped lantern, until it is heated enough to be released as a glowing orb up into the sky. It is considered good luck to release a khom loi, and many Thais believe they are symbolic of problems and worries floating away.
The sky transforms itself in a wonderful and surreal sea of little lanterns floating away. The spectacle is truly mesmerizing. The lanterns generally last about 5-10 minutes before they eventually burn out and tumble back down to the earth.
A second lantern release specially catered for foreign tourists is held usually one week after the traditional celebration for a fee of 100USD. This ceremony is in English and the fee includes shuttle service, lanterns, a seating mat, and dinner.
Address: Bang Khen, San Sai District, Chiang Mai Province 50290