Ubon Ratchatani Candle Festival

Ubon Ratchatani is the largest province in Isan, as the northeast of Thailand is known. Following the common practice in Thailand, the provincial capital city is also named Ubon Ratchatani. Khao Phansa Day marks the beginning of the rainy season retreat for Buddhist monks. To celebrate this, a candle festival is held in the city every year. Huge wax sculptures are prepared by people from temples throughout the province and paraded through the city. This page presents some photographs taken during the festival in July 2006.

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On the night before the parade the candles are on display. Crowds of people turn out to get a preview of what is coming the next day.


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The parade is led by the winner from last year.


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The horse seems eager to get going.


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Some entries use a range of colours in the wax.


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Between the candles in the parade, the watchers are entertained by local dancers.


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These girls are really getting into the swing of things in true Isan style.


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Some of the entries consist solely of carved wax.


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The result can be quite beautiful.


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Another style involves thousands of carefully moulded wax pieces which are assembled to provide intricate detail.


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The court musician.


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The winner.


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Flower people.


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Keeping the sculptures in good condition can be difficult in the tropical heat. In this close up, if you look above the ear, you can see a piece of wax that has softened and sagged. To try to prevent this, the sculptures are regularly sprayed with cold water.


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Incredible detail.


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A polite wai.


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A triumphant wave.


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An offering of lotus buds.



If you are ever in Thailand during July I would recommend a visit to Ubon Ratchatani. Apart from the Candle Festival, there are many other things to see, including many interesting temples, handicraft centres, ancient rock paintings and natural attractions including waterfalls.

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