Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

Ubon’s best festival

More on Ubon Ratchathani

Throughout Thailand and other Theravada Buddhist countries, communities have long gathered to offer requisites, including candles, to monks as they embark on the rains retreat, or Khao Phansa.

Travelfish says:

Ubon turns this Asanha Bucha ceremony into a two-day Candle Festival, or Hae Thian, complete with a parade of floats featuring detailed wax sculptures. Drawing over 200,000 visitors, it’s one of the largest festivals in Thailand.

All are welcome to join in. : David Luekens.
All are welcome to join in. Photo: David Luekens

Most of the city’s major temples support large groups of artists—international wax-carving champions down to humble villagers—who work together to cover plaster molds in finely carved beeswax depictions of the Buddha, characters from Hindu/Buddhist legends and a wild array of dragons, gods, devas, nagas and more. With some of Ubon’s artists often grabbing the top prize in international contests, competition is stiff.

On the eve before the big parade, finished floats are parked along the streets around Thung Si Muang Park. On the following day, the floats highlight a huge procession accompanied by dancers and musicians dressed in their best traditional garb. Markets, carnival rides, games and crafts ensure that the fun keeps going into the night. At a certain point, everyone pauses to find out which temple’s float has taken home the top prize.

The actual festival runs for only two days over the full moon of the eighth lunar month (some time in July or August), but you can stop by local temples during the roughly six weeks prior to see the artists working on their floats. Some of the best venues include Wat Nong Bua, Wat Si Phradu, Wat Chaeng and Wat Burapharam. Countless pieces come together to compose a whole float; don’t be surprised if someone hands you a piece of wax and tells you to start carving!

Contact details for Hae Thian (Candle Festival)

Address: Thung Si Muang Park, Ubon Ratchathani

Reviewed by

David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.

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Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Ubon Ratchathani

Wat Nong Bua
Wat Nong Bua

Thai rendition of an Indian pagoda

Baan Pa Ao brass and silk village
Baan Pa Ao brass and silk village

Watch traditional artists at work

Ubon Ratchathani National Museum
Ubon Ratchathani National Museum

A glimpse into Ubon’s past

Wat Thung Si Muang
Wat Thung Si Muang

Arguably Ubon’s most atmospheric wat

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Phibun Mangsahan

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Wat Maha Wanaram (Wat Pa Yai)

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Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram (Wat Si Thong)

Thailand’s largest topaz Buddha

Thung Si Muang Park
Thung Si Muang Park

Heart of Ubon

Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat
Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat

Part of a global meditation movement