The festival of lightsThe sky lanterns filled the darkness like a thousand light bulbs lighting up the pitch -black sky over Chiang Mai. Some say a prayer before setting of the sky lanterns while other wrote their wishes on the lantern. As it goes higher it get smaller and eventually just disappear into the darkness but is soon replaced by a continuous flow of sky lanterns let off by the hundreds of local and tourists.
It is extremely popular in Chiang Mai and each year on the full moon of the twelve-month of the Thai lunar calendar Chiang Mai will be crowded with tourists from all over the world joining the celebration regardless of their faith. Lanterns of all shape and size are hung across the city; most hotels and temple are also decorated with these lanterns. The celebration spreading over 3 days will see many events happening after sunset.
A stage is set up at the Tapae Gate entrance to the old walled city where performance is held. This is also the starting point of the parade, which leads all the way to the river passing the popular night bazaar of Chiang Mai. Some of the roads leading toward Tapae gate will be closed to traffic by late afternoon as dancers and elaborately decorated floats gather at the Tapae Gates before the processions start. The whole event is held in a casual festive manner as tourists and locals walk along with the procession, mingling with the dancers, taking photos with them along the way.
Many temples also have their own celebration hanging up lanterns (Khom Kwaen), which is offered to pay respects to the Buddha. They are made in four shapes: the star, the alms bowl, the basket and the wheel. Wat Pundtow has one of the most elaborate decorations where the temple ground is lighted up with many hanging lanterns. The center of attraction is the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree and surrounded by a moat of water lighted up with hundred of oil lamps. After a prayer session the monks set off the sky lanterns.