This year the candle festival takes place Saturday, 20th July 2024 and marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent which lasts about 90 days.

During the days leading up to the festival, huge candles, often more than two metres tall, are built in Wat Chayaporn. These giant wax totems (see left) are covered in the most intricate patterns and relief work, then loaded onto floats surrounded by beautiful Buddhist lotus flower themes.

They are paraded through the town with dancing girls in attendance, finally ending their tour at Wat Pho Chai, the holiest temple in Nong Khai, famous for Luang Pho Phra Sai.

The festival takes place on "Wan Asarnha Buja", or the day before the start of Buddhist Lent on Saturday, 20th July 2024. Kao Pan Saa, the beginning of Lent is on Sunday, 21st of July 2024.

The Candle Festival, more than any other festival during the year, is a woman's parade. It gives girls and their older sisters, their best opportunity to dress in the height of their traditional finery, and display their dancing prowess.

All Buddhist men in Thailand are expected to become a monk at least once in their lives. They will enter the temple on the following day, where they are to remain for ninety days. The enrolling ceremony is known as "Bu'at", when they are given the provisions and clothes they will need.

Candles are considered especially important as a gift to the new monks when they ordain, as they give light and so symbolise Buddhist enlightenment. When the candles of the parade arrive at the temple they are presented at a special ceremony; when they are carried three times around the main chapel of the temple before being handed over to the monks. At this point, similar to Christianity, many people choose to give up vices, such as drinking or smoking, for Lent.