Oct 29 2013

Loy Krathong festival not cancelled in Thailand

Published by at 2:09 pm under Festivals

The Bangkok Post caused quite a stir on October 28 when it reported that the popular Loy Krathong festival would be “delayed” due to the passing of Thailand’s 100-year-old Supreme Patriarch, Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana Mahathera, last Thursday. The report apparently stemmed from a Tourist Authority of Thailand (TAT) statement, though our October 29 inquiry to TAT headquarters in Bangkok told a different story. Cancelled or delayed? Definitely not. Scaled down? Probably, but that’s no reason to change your plans.

There's no stopping krathongs.

There’s no stopping krathongs.

TAT officials told us that Loy Krathong will take place on Sunday, November 17 as planned, though fireworks and other entertainment planned by the TAT and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has been cancelled. All of Bangkok’s public parks will be open for festival-goers to partake in the ancient tradition of floating krathongs. In the vicinity of Memorial Bridge and elsewhere, flame-powered khom loy lanterns should also fill the sky as usual.

It remains to be seen whether riverside temples that normally host colourful Loy Krathong fairs, including Wat Arun and Wat Yannawa, will hold the usual happenings this year. The TAT told us that it’s up to each individual temple. The most likely scenario is that temples will allow people to float krathongs but will not offer the usual festive atmosphere. They almost certainly will not host live music and cultural performances as in normal years.

We expect Bangkok’s nightlife to carry on as normal, more or less, though probably without live music. When we walked around lively Sukhumvit Soi 11 on October 28, it was business as usual.

In sum, don’t change your Loy Krathong plans. Festivities in popular destinations like Chiang Mai, Sukhothai and Amphawa are unlikely to be any different than in normal years. In Bangkok, we expect a scaled down Loy Krathong this year, but what most travellers come out for — the enchanting scenes of candlelit lanterns and krathongs floating on the water and in the sky — should be the same as any other year.

One caveat: TAT officials also told us that while they do expect a scaled down festival to take place as planned, there is a chance that the government may assert some sort of broader restrictions in the coming days. Even if that happens, though, a ban on krathongs would be unthinkable.

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