Lonely Planet Writer

Super moon illuminates Loi Krathong festival as first month of mourning comes to an end in Thailand

Thailand’s first month of mourning for King Bhumibol Adulyadej came to an end on Monday and with it, the official government ban on entertainment and festivities.

A general view of the Benjakitti Park with the full moon behind the skyscrapers as people gathers to marks Loy Kratong Festival under Biggest Full Moon since 1948, in Bangkok, Thailand on November 14.
A general view of the Benjakitti Park with the full moon behind the skyscrapers as people gathers to marks Loy Kratong Festival under Biggest Full Moon since 1948, in Bangkok, Thailand on November 14. Image by Guillaume Payen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It was with poignant coincidence then, that the day fell, not only on one of the country’s prettiest festivals – Loi Krathong – but also on the night of the largest super moon the planet has seen in 68 years. Thais and visitors around the country ventured out in the moonlight to set flower-laden and candle-lit basket boats afloat on lakes and waterways, making a wish as they did so.

Thai people celebrate Loy Kratong at Prachinburi Province,Thailand and without any firework display, as it is still during mourning period for late HM the King, on November 14.
Thai people celebrate Loy Kratong at Prachinburi Province,Thailand and without any firework display, as it is still during mourning period for late HM the King, on November 14. Image by Panupong Changchai/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Despite the lifting of the entertainment ban, this year’s Loi Krathong was a reflective and sombre affair. Many events were dedicated to the King’s passing, with muted celebrations and a continued ban on fireworks and sky lanterns. In Bangkok, 28 public parks stayed open until midnight, but those closest to the Grand Palace were closed for festivities.

On Monday, the National Culture Committee made recommendations for the country’s first sanctioned festival since the king’s passing on 13 October, stating that Buddhist merit-making, dhamma practice and prayer were appropriate but that the staging the Nang Nopphanmat beauty contest, fireworks and musical concerts were not.

Women release 'Kratong' as people gathers at Benjakitti Park to marks Loy Kratong Festival.
Women release ‘Kratong’ as people gathers at Benjakitti Park to marks Loy Kratong Festival. Image by Guillaume Payen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Loi Krathong is held on the first full moon of the 12th month in the lunar calendar, and is usually a joyous event celebrating the end of the rainy season. Monday’s events were a reminder that while the official ban on entertainment and festivities may be over, the official mourning period for the king is one year, and during that time events could well be toned down as a mark of respect.