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Stunning Photos of Chiang Mai's Floating Lantern Festival

While we're used to writing about extraordinary travel destinations or must-visit art festivals, it's cultural events like this that really make us want to pack our bags and book a one-way ticket to a faraway place. Though we could blame photographer Steve McCurry for sparking that wanderlust side, there's also countless of amateur and professional photographers out there who've taken some incredible shots that stir something in us to go out and explore the world.

One such documented event is held in northern Thailand during a full moon in November and it's called Yi Peng (or Yee Peng). The most elaborate Yi Peng celebration is in Chiang Mai, where thousands of people gather and launch hot-air lanterns into the night sky. Made of a thin fabric, usually rice paper, a candle or fuel cell is attached so that when it's lit, the hot air trapped inside creates enough lift for it to float away. It's a spectacular sight as thousands of lanterns are released at the same time. The festival is meant as a time to pay respect to higher deities - you say a prayer, make a wish and then watch as your lantern floats away. (Many people also believe that the lantern will carry your troubles away with it.)

As Mica, a person who experienced the festival first-hand wrote on her blog, Travel This Earth: "It was an incredible moment to see all those lanterns floating away, and as they got further and further they looked like a newly formed giant constellation. Thai music filled my ears as it began playing over a loudspeaker and I watched a thousand lanterns fill the night sky. This is not something that we’ll forget."

Above photo credit: Yang Tee Mon


Credit: Taradol Chitmanchaitham


Credit: Yang Tee Mon


Credit: Hasbi Jien


Credit: Komang Neo


Credit: Watcharapong Jingkaujai


Credit: Ekachai Jirachuphun


Credit: Daniel Nahabedian


Credit: Travel This Earth

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