The Loy Krathong Festival is one of the major
events in Patong Phuket, just as it is throughout the whole of
Thailand. This significant festival occurs on the full moon night
of the twelfth month in the conventional Thai lunar based calendar.
This date usually falls in November on the Western
'Krathong' refers to a raft, customarily made from the trunk of a banana tree, while 'Loy' translates as 'to float'. Nowadays the krathongs are more likely to be made of bread or styrofoam, though the latter practice is frowned upon, for its negative impact on the environment. The krathongs are adorned with flowers, intricately folded banana leaves, incense sticks and candles. A low denomination coin is at times added as a gift to river spirits.
As the name suggests the festival involves floating the krathongs on a pond, lake, river or canal on the full moon night. Corporations, government offices and other noteworthy organisations often construct large elaborately decorated krathongs. Many people participate in the competitions held to determine the raft with the best construction and style. Beauty contests and firework displays are also part of the festive activities.
According to some writers, the Loy Krathong Festival is a derivative of a Hindu celebration which was adopted by Thai Buddhists to honour the Buddha. The candles represent veneration of the Buddha, whilst the release of the rafts symbolises freeing oneself of all anger, grudges and defilements.