Breathtaking Lantern Festivals Around The World

Seeker Editors

As we enter the new year, the ever-so-magical image of mesmerizing lanterns has already begun sparkling in our imaginations. We put together a list of some of the most breathtaking lantern festivals that occur yearly (and sometimes monthly!) throughout the world. While different cultures, countries, and cities have their own unique way of interpreting and celebrating the world- one thing that stays constant is the beauty of light. From the Umi No Hi celebration in Japan, in honor of the ocean, to the water lantern festival of Honolulu, paying respects to our loved ones past- these stunning destinations each carry a deep meaning and spectacular beauty that accumulates in these iconic lantern festivals.

Tokyo, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, O‘ahu, Pingxi District, Shanghai, Hội An

  • Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan

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      Umi No Hi, meaning the ‘day of the sea’ is celebrated every third Monday of July in Japan. Typically Japanese visit the beach and the aquarium during this day, but we recommend visiting Odaiba’s Marine Park for a spectacular water Lantern Festival. Imagine hundreds of brightly colored lanterns sparkling against a sandy beach, a truly mesmerizing image and sense of tranquility from the electric energy of Tokyo city. Local musicians, beachside cafes, and other sites unfold around as visitors and locals pay their respects to the bountiful life of the ocean- an everpresent aspect of Japanese culture.

  • Bangkok in Bangkok, Thailand

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      With thousands of lotus-shaped rafts named Krathong decorated with incense, candles, and overflowing flowers drifting throughout the silky, watery depths of the city, it’s no wonder tourists flock from around the world to see this breathtaking sight. Loy Krathong is one of the most visually and culturally beautiful festivals of Bangkok, people gather at lakes and rivers to pay their respects to the goddess of water by drifting candles and lights on rivers, canals, and lakes. Visit the picturesque Chao Phraya River for stunning Krathongs, cultural events, and even a firework display.

  • Chiang Mai in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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      Every year on the full moon of the 12th month during the Thai lunar calendar (typically occurring in November), thousands of paper lanterns drift off into the skyline. The Festival of Lights is a traditional Thai festival that marks the end of the monsoon season and accumulates with one of the most awe-inspiring sites of glowing lanterns finding their pathway into the night of a full moon. While the festival lights up throughout the country, Chiang Mai is easily one of the best destinations for experiencing this magical celebration, with so many cultural activities, sites, and food bursting throughout the city streets. Consider lighting your very own paper lantern this year, and take part in one of the world's most iconic lantern festivals.

  • O‘ahu, United States

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      There are few images more mesmerizing than a balmy beach adorned with caramelized light drifting off into the peach-tinted horizon, a dream-like site that comes to life every Memorial Day in Honolulu. Tourists and locals take this moment of beauty to remember their loved ones, watching the picturesque lanterns drift into a reflection of peace on the sparkling sea. The ceremony stems from Buddhist roots and has been occurring for over 20 years.

  • Pingxi District, Taiwan

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      A festival originating from historical events when lanterns were displayed signifying that the town was safe has entirely transformed into an occasion for endless fun in the Pingxi District of Taiwan. There are countless activities to enjoy visiting Taiwan during their famous Lantern Festival to celebrate the end of the Chinese New Year -*thousands* of sky lanterns decorate the sky over the Pingxi District. Enjoy a breathtaking firework display, firecracker ceremonies, tasty food, and live performances.

  • Shanghai in Shanghai, China

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      Every year on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (typically February or March), the streets of Shanghai come alive with a hypnotic burst of color and electricity. The Lantern Festival marks a day for celebration- think colorful lanterns decorated in calligraphy lining the bustling Shanghai city streets, sweet tangyuan stands, dragon dances, and spectacular fireworks.

  • Hội An, Vietnam

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      Influenced by a strong Buddhist tradition, the Hoi An Lantern Festival is an illumination of fluorescent colors glimmering throughout the city every full moon. Tourists and locals embrace a kaleidoscopic array of color and light freely throughout the eclectic city streets, enjoy spectacular live performances and cultural events, and sample the mouth-watering street food.