Laos is a land of festivals and celebrations. The people love any excuse to have a party or family get together, but while they are all celebrated with enthusiasm, the majority of these festivals are based in the Buddhist faith that dominates the country and hold an important religious significance for Lao people.
There are a total of 15 Public Holidays in Laos ranging from harvest festivities, rain-making ceremonies to religious observations. So relax and join in the fun because in the typical manner of Southeast Asia these Public Holidays are a bundle of colourful fun.
Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai)
This is a fun festival when many villages get together and fire huge homemade rockets into the sky to call for rain for the planting season. Be prepared for noise, crowds and lots of beer drinking.
Boun Khao Phansa
This is the beginning of the three-month long Buddhist Lent. All monks stop travelling and stay at temple for prayer and meditation. It’s also time for ordination of men entering a monkhood.
Luang Prabang Boat Racing Festival
This is held in September, and includes boat racing on the Khan River and a trade fair inLuang Prabang city. At the Khao Padup Din ceremony day, people visit local temples to make offering to the dead as well to share merits making.
Boun Awk Pansa
This day marks the end of Buddhist Lent. In the evening there is lighting of candles in and around the temples and the lovely ceremony of Lai Hua Fai or fireboats, where small “boats” made of sections of banana tree trunks decorated with flowers, and lit candles are floated down the nearest river. It is believed these small boats will take away any bad luck and bring good luck.
That Luang Festival (or Boun That Luang)
The That Luang Festival takes place at the golden That Luang stupa or Pha That Luang inVientiane. It involves many religious events including a dawn taak baator offering where hundreds of monks from all over the country assemble to receive alms and floral votives on the first day of the festival. There is a colourful “wax castle” procession between Wat Si Muang and Pha That Luang and a type of hockey game. The festival also includes a trade fair and many concerts and other events. It ends with fireworks and music and a candlelit procession (vien thien) of That Luang.
Lao National Day
This celebrates the 1975 victory of the people over the monarchy, and held on every December. However it is mainly a day for government events and public participation is limited to flying the Lao and Communist flags.