Candle Festival

Ubon's best festival

Photo of , , Ubon Ratchathani

What we say: 4.5 stars

This annual event is held at the beginning of Buddhist Lent (Asanlaha Bucha Day), which commemorates the beginning of Khao Phansa, or the monks’ three-month rain retreat, when they hibernate in their temple grounds for meditation.

Although it’s usually at the end of July or early August, be sure to check the Thai calender to clarify exact dates before planning a visit. This is a four-day long national holiday weekend in Thailand, and Ubon Ratchathani is the place to be celebrating. It's a favourite among Thais, and hotels book up in advance so do try to grab a room ahead of time if you can. If you’ll be in the country during this period and are at all interested in experiencing a traditional Thai festival, we highly recommend the Candle Festival.

The actual holiday is only two days, but the unofficial events begin a week in advance, giving Ubon an air of excitement for the days leading up to the big celebration. The candles, made of the region's specialty beeswax, are sculpted into intricate religious figures and form the centrepiece of the festival. The candles, some of which are designed by international competitors, are displayed for days before the parade at the local museum.

The downtown streets surrounding Thung Si Muang park are closed to traffic for the weekend of the event. The eve before the big parade, the carved candles line the streets, making for some prime photography material. The following day, the candles are the centrepiece of the big parade along with traditional Thai dancing. Beside the processions, hundreds of activities take place: folk dancing, shopping at specialty markets, carnival rides and games, arts and crafts and more – all of which give Ubon that unique Thai festive feel.

More details
Centre of town
Opening Hours: Full moon of the eighth lunar month; usually the end of July or early August
Last updated: 14th September, 2012

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