Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani | A cavalcade of bee’s wax floats

Motifs of religion the wax floats

In 2017 a dream came true. Finally, I got the chance to experience the Wax – Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani. I left the Toe Sang hotel on a hot July morning, and the streets were already basked with sunshine. But the crowd had done their homework shading themselves with umbrellas. I put on my best hat and sunglasses, grabbed some water and proceeded downtown to have a look at the parade of the festival floats. It was the day of Khao Pansa, the Buddhist Lent Day, which marks the official start of the rainy season. It also marks the period when monks traditionally retreat to their temples for three months of study and meditation. So, the festival is celebrated in commemoration of the first sermon of the Lord Buddha, Asahna Bucha, which is the day just before Buddhist lent.

Making candles for the monks retreating in temples during Lent gave birth to a long historical tradition that evolved into this festival and friendly competition to make festival floats with candles and out of bee wax.

Isan dancers candel festival Ubon Ratchathani
Isarn dancers in action

So this is a two-day Buddhist festival where there is also a 48-hour alcohol ban. It still doesn’t stop the festival fun.

The centre for the festival is around the Thung Sri Muang Park, where the floats will be parked, and markets held. It is popular to walk around in the evening and some good photos.

Festival floats made from bees wax from the candle festival in Ubon Ratchathani.
Festival floats parked along the moat

The floats depict Hindu and Buddhist motifs but are occasionally comical.

How are the floats made?

To begin with, the floats are made up of a frame where wires and sometimes wood is attached as well as rice husks and dried vegetation to help shape the structure. Secondly, the frame is attached to a large flatbed trailer. Then plaster is applied, and hot wax is poured over the construction. One group will be working on moulding wax tiles attached to the float. It is usually a hot period during this festival, so the wax float is sprinkled with water to keep the wax from melting.

Below is a slideshow from the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani

Hotels in Ubon Ratchathani

Remember to prepare your stay well ahead of time. It is always good to be aware that festivals attract many visitors in Thailand. Here are some examples of the hotels available in Ubon Ratchathani.

Contact regarding the festival

To check the exact dates of the festival and if the festival is on, contact the local tourist information.

Read more about Ubon Ratchathani here. And about the ancient rock painting of Pha Taem here.

In Ubon there is a TAT office 045 243 770

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