Of Sky-Bound Lanterns and Magical Family Moments – November adventures



We are the Swensons and call ourselves “Let’s Adventure Some More” because we have continued to adventure even after starting a family. We have three hooligans that are 7, 6, and 4. This year we decided to ditch our suburban life in the San Francisco Bay Area for a trip around the world. We started off our travels in China and then headed to Thailand this month.

As soon as we discovered Yee Peng Lantern Festival, we knew that our earthly-existences would feel incomplete if we did not witness it and all its glory first-hand at some point in our lives. The images of the festival are nothing but breath-taking. And we loved the idea of experiencing the release of negative past-events and thoughts and praying about the future year. What an incredible experience to do as a family!

When we learned that we were the guest adventurers for November, we knew that we wanted to splurge on tickets to participate in the Yee Peng Festival while in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We were beyond ecstatic that this bucket-list experience would be happening for our family. In fact, I, Mama Jess, was completely beside myself.

Yee Peng Festival {also known as the Lanna Festival} is rooted in the Thai Buddhist belief system. Its name translates to “Full-Moon Day” and is a day to “make merit.” Merit is the Buddhist concept of a positive force in relation to good deeds, and thoughts. The lantern release is all about taking negative events or thoughts from the previous year and letting them go into the air; releasing the negative and wishing for good things in the coming year.

We arrived to the site in the late afternoon and were fed some delicious Thai food. The Pad Thai, fried bananas, doughnuts, and various colored Fanta soda pop made for a very delicious dinner. We ate on floor mats and low-leveled tables with our shoes neatly left outside the mat area as per Thai tradition of no shoes. There were booths surrounding the food area which the attendees were encouraged to explore. Each booth contained various details of Thai life and culture like traditional clothing to try on and take pictures in, a loom area to see they weaving, and a place to create beautiful floating pods called krathongs made of banana leaves, and decorated with candles and flowers. The krathongs are released into the river while making a wish during the festival.

Then we headed into the lantern release area and began the traditional Buddhist ceremonies of meditation and singing led by the local Monks. It was captivating to hear the chanting and be lead into meditation by them. By this time, it was getting very dark and pretty late into the evening. We were thankful that our three young ones did so well while waiting for the release.

And then it was time! Time to take our five lanterns and light them up.

With each lantern, we waited until the paper billowed with air and light. Then, as the buoyancy and anticipation tugged on us, the countdown began. We lifted our arms and released our lanterns into the sky.


Approximately 4,000 people attended the event that night and we all lifted lanterns into the sky at the same time….

…saying farewell to our lanterns and goodbye to our worries and pain from the previous year. What a sight to behold! A sight filled with so much magic and so much promise! The kids made wishes as we released the lanterns and we prayed for our next year as travelling adventurers.



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