Yi Ping Lantern Festival
Yi Ping is a lantern festival that takes place annually in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There are two festivals, one that is primarily for tourists and is fairly pricy, and one that is privately arranged and free to the public. The privately arranged lantern release can be quite hard to pin down the date on, and is usually announced about a month before the event.
I was fortunate enough to be there for the privately arranged celebration held in Mai Jo, a city very close to Chiang Mai. This mass sky lantern release is, to put it quite simply-magical. The night begins with a quiet meditation led by monks in reverence of the Lord Buddha. It ends with everyone releasing their lanterns into the sky.
I read that the lantern is significant because it represents stepping out of the darkness and into the light. I think that many people see the lantern release as something very spiritual and a release of negative emotions and feelings. It is a time to release resentment, and a chance to begin anew. The whole experience was very emotional and I walked out of it feeling grateful for everything in my life.
Tips For The Festival
The lantern release is held at Mae Jo University annually, and you can get there by either motorbike, taxi, or song-taew. It will cost you around 1,000 baht for a song-taew, or 600 baht for a tuk-tuk to take you there and wait. Motorbike rentals in Chiang Mai are about 150 baht per day, but be careful as there is a lot of traffic.
It’s free to enter, but donations are accepted. Dress code is enforced (make sure to cover shoulders and legs).
Get there early to secure your spot! Thousands of people will be attending and some people get there early in the afternoon.
The Not-So Magical Rush of People: Beware! Getting out will take at least an hour of being stuck in slow to not moving masses of people making their way towards the exit. Once you finally make it to the parking lot, cars are backed up in a hellish traffic jam. If you are confident in your motorbike riding skills, save yourself the sweaty songthaew ride home and skip the lines by weaving in and out of traffic.