Loy Krathong is celebrated on the twelfth full moon of the Thai lunar year, and is meant to venerate both Buddha and the Thai water goddess Phra Mae Kongka. Chiang Mai is host to some of the most spectacular festivities in Thailand, where thousands of sky lanterns and fireworks fill the air in the days surrounding the full moon.
1

Students and lantern

1. University students release a sky lantern or 'khom loy', a small hot air balloon made from rice paper and bamboo. Khom loy are symbols for letting go of all one's troubles and worries.

2

Floats

2. A procession of floats, representing elements of Northern Thai history and culture works its way from the city center to the Ping River.

3

Tourist and Model

3. A tourist takes a picture of a model and her float during the parade.

4

Candle Rafts

4. Candle rafts or 'krathong' are filled with offerings and joss sticks before being set afloat in the Ping River. As well as honoring the water goddess and Gautama Buddha, it's believed that 'krathong' carry away bad parts of their launchers.

5

Picking over Leftovers

5.A man searches for offerings of small change among 'krathong washed up on the riverbank. The raiders remain discreet in Chiang Mai, but this practice has become a major problem in Bangkok.

6

Kom Loy Sparklers

6. 'Khom loy' being released by Tha Phae gate.

7

Kom Loy Released

7. Sparklers are often attached to 'khom loy' and lit before takeoff.

8

Students and lantern

8. 'Khom loy' are far from foolproof - a quick gust of wind or misplaced lighter will set the set one alight.

9

Students and lantern

9.A group of revelers release several lanterns at once.

10

booths

10.During the holiday and the few days preceding it, the streets by the river are lined with stalls selling food, krathong and fireworks.

11

Teens ad Rocket

11. Teenagers set off an enormous rocket from a bridge over the Ping River.

12

Giant khom loy

12. A young man releases an oversized khom loy.

13

landscape of fireworks and smoke

13. Loy Krathong technically takes place on the night of the full moon, but the air above Chiang Mai is filled with fireworks, khom loy and gunpowder smoke for days on end.

14

firework exploding

14. A firework explodes near a hotel rooftop.