As part of the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivities in northern Thailand, an annual event is held at Mae Jo in Chiang Mai province where an estimated 10,000 sky lanterns are simultaneously released. With the boom in social media and travel blogging more and more people from outside of Thailand are now aware of this unique and spectacular event and are expressing an interest in wanting to attend. However, pinning down the exact dates of the Mae Jo lantern release isn’t straight-forward. To add to the confusion, there are now two separate lantern release dates at Mae Jo; the first is an event for locals and the second an event aimed at tourists.
Loy Krathong night
This year (2012), Loy Krathong night itself is November 28. This is a confirmed date (the evening of the full-moon). If you are in Chiang Mai you will see lanterns being released all over the city from November 26-28 with the Thapae Gate, Three Kings Monument and riverside areas being the main hub for Loy Krathong activities. This is separate to the mass lantern release held at Mae Jo which is a short drive outside of Chiang Mai city and which takes place on a different date.
The Mae Jo lantern release for locals (free event)
Update October 15, 2012:
According to the website of the event organisers, the free event is taking place on November 24 with the paid ticketed event taking place on November 30. From previous experience I know that dates for the free event can still change at short notice, so please keep that in mind. All information is on the website link below. If I become aware of any further changes I will post an update here so there is no need to email me. Thank you.
Yeepeng Lanna International – organizers of the Mae Jo lantern release
The Mae Jo lantern release usually takes place on a weekend up to two weeks before the actual Loy Krathong night. Earlier this year I was advised by tourism officials in Thailand that November 8-10, 2012 were the provisional dates for the Mae Jo event, but from previous years I know the Mae Jo dates are always subject to change at short-notice. A number of readers have contacted me asking if I know the confirmed dates for this year’s lantern release at Mae Jo. The official answers I’ve been given in the last few weeks are that the dates remain unconfirmed. I’ve contacted the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offices in the USA and UK. I’ve also visited the TAT office in person in Chiang Mai and a tour agent I know in Chiang Mai as well as a Thai friend whose family live in Mae Jo. Everybody agrees the dates of the Mae Jo lantern release aren’t likely to be confirmed until a few months beforehand at the earliest. In fact, the date may not be be 100% confirmed until a few weeks beforehand. This is in line with what has happened in previous years. From an organisational point of view there are a number of factors which have to be taken into consideration including weather conditions, the size of the crowds and local traffic management. As soon as I know the confirmed dates for the 2012 lantern release (the free event) I will write an update here. Anybody is welcome to attend the free event although it is primarily for the benefit of local Thai people.
One reader contacted me to say they have had an email reply from a Thai tour agent who says the 2012 Mae Jo lantern release (free event) is November 24. That date may or may not prove to be correct, but based on what I’ve been told from official sources the tour agent appears to be working on a best-guess scenario rather than a confirmed actual date. Would it surprise me if the lantern release was on November 24? No, it wouldn’t. Would it surprise me if it was on November 10 or November 17? No, it wouldn’t.
Mae Jo lantern release for tourists (paid event)
In response to the increased demand from tourists wishing to see the mass lantern release at Mae Jo, another date was added last year with visitors charged for tickets (100 USD including dinner). The feedback from last year’s inaugural event wasn’t great, but another paid event has been confirmed for this year with the date being November 30.
See here for full details »