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Lao Festivals & Events

Dates included where known, other events may be scheduled with the lunar calendar.

Laos celebrates many annual festivals called “Boun” which are particularly enjoyable and beautiful, signifying traditional aspects of Lao lifestyle. Most festivals are connected with religion and the yearly rice farming cycle. The timing of the festivals is calculating according to the Buddhist lunar calendar.

03-04 February
Boun Khoun Khao or Khoun Lan (Rice Ceremony)

It is a harvest festival held at Songkhon District in Savannakhet Province. “Basi” ceremony is performed in order to give thanks to the land.

15-16 February
Boun Khao Chi

The ceremony is held at the “Wat” (temple) in the morning, when a special “bread made of sticky rice” is offered. This festival is held during the third full moon of the lunar calendar.

At the same period, similar festivals are celebrated in many provinces

Sikhottabong festival in Khammouane Province

Thai traditional religiois festival is held at Sikhottabang Stupa, located about 8 kilometers to the south of Thakhek town. The stupa was built between the 9th and 10thCentury by King Nantahsena and was restored to its original grandeur during the 1950's.

Wat Phou Festival in Champasack Province

This festival is held during the third full moon of the lunar calendar on the grounds of enhancing pre-Angorian Wat Phu ruins in Champasack. Festivities include elephant races, buffalo fights, cock fighting, traditional Lao music and dance performances. To coincide with the festival, a trade fair is also held to showcase products originating from southern Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Wat Phou Festival in Champasack Province

This festival is held during the third full moon of the lunar calendar on the grounds of enhancing pre-Angorian Wat Phu ruins in Champasack. Festivities include elephant races, buffalo fights, cock fighting, traditional Lao music and dance performances. To coincide with the festival, a trade fair is also held to showcase products originating from southern Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Boun Pha Vet

An offering ceremony where a donation is made and one’s future is read during the three day-three night festivals.

14-15-16 April
"Boun Pi Mai" Lao’s New Year

Lao New Year is celebrated at the same time each year (April 13-15). This year, the 16th in the first day of the New Year. On the 13th, Buddha images are taken out of the temples to be cleansed with scented water by devotees, and placed on special temporary alters within the compounds of “Wats” (temples). Devotees gather the scented water falling off the images, to take home and use it to pour on friends and relatives, as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. On the evening of the 15th, the images are returned to their proper shiners within the temples.

Boun Pimai is a time for much joyous celebration, with good deeds and prayers in anticipation the New Year.

Boun Bang Fai (Rocket festival)

A ceremony praying for rain is performed at the temple in the morning. In the afternoon, people gather in fields on the outskirts of villages and towns to launch the rockets with much abandoned revelry. Villages, communities and department compete for the “best decorated” and the “highest traveling” rocket. Beginning around the middle May, the festivals are staggered from place to place enable more participation and attendance. This is the time when an offering to the spirits can be made in a comer of one’s garden, early each morning.

15 May
Boun Visakhaboucha

This festival is held during the sixth full moon of the lunar calendar for the Buddha. Candlelight processions are held in temples to mark the birth date of Buddha.

13-14 July
Boun Asalahaboucha and Boun Kho Pansa (Buddhist Lent)

It is the beginning of Buddhist Lent. During the next three-month period, monks spend most of their times in prayer and meditation and the restricted from spending nights in other of the lunar calendar.

25-26 August
“Boun Khao Padabdin (Rice) and Boat Racing Festival at Luang Prabang.

At the Khao Padabdin ceremony day, people visit local temples to make offerings to dead ancestors as well as to share merits making. This festival includes boat racing on the Nam Khan River and a trade fair in Luang Prabang World Heritage Town.

10 September
Boun Khao Salak (Rice)

It is for offering to be made for dead ancestors to obtain merit. Popular and exciting longboat-racing competitions are held to celebrate the River. Ths festival is held during the tenth full moon of the lunar calendar.

Boat Racing Festival in Khammouane Province
It is held on the Sebangfai River. At the same occasion a trade fair of the agricultural products, local handicrafts, Traditional Lao music and dance performance are organized. In this festival, citizens donate offerings to dead ancestors to gain merit.

10-11 October
Boun Ok Phansa and Boat Racing Festival
The festival held after the end of the monks’ three-month fast and retreat during the rainy season (Boun Khao Phansa). At dawn on the first day, donations and offerings are made at temples around the city. In the evening, candlelight processions are held at temples and hundreds of colorful floats are decorated with flowers, incense and candles are set adrift down the Mekong River to pay respect to the river spirit. The following day in Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champasack Province, a popular and exciting boat racing competition is held to celebrate the Mekong River.

Boun Khathin
This festival begins immediately after the last day of Lent, and lasts until the next full moon. During the one month period, devoted of the Buddhist faith help the monks to carry out their religious practice by making offering all their 9 requisites and other useful items.

05-09 November
That Luang Festival and Trade Fair in Vientiane
This religious festival is held in and around That Luang Stupa, the National Symbol of Laos where hundreds of monks gather to accept alms and floral votive from the people> the festival includes a grand fireworks display at night. During the day, an international trade fairs, showcasing tourism in Laos and other countries from ASEAN and the greater Mekong Sub-region. During the same period a similar festival is also celebrated at Chine Tm Stoup in Luang Namtha Province.

23-24 November
Hmong’s New Year in Oudomxay, Xiengkhouang, Luang Prabang and Vientiane Province
This year, Hmong’s New Year celebration feature colorful displays of traditional costumes made made from green, res and white silk and ornate silver jewelry. Music from traditional Hmong instruments such as the teun-flute, Hmong-style Khene pipe and leave blowing is enjoyed. Other festivities include Mak Khon (cotton-ball) throwing ceremony, ox fighting, spinning top races and crossbow demonstrations.

05-08 December
That Inhang Festival in Savannakhet Province
This festival will be held on the grounds of the splendid That Inhang Stupa which is located just outside the city of Savannakhet Province. And international trade fair will include exhibitions of tourism products from Laos, Tahiland and Vietnam. The fair will also include the performance of traditional Lao Music and dance as well as a sports competition featuring football, boxing, tennis and local traditions including a drumming competition.

Source: laotourism.org


 

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We liked the Elephant Trekking in Champasak and the shopping in the Pakse markets. J&S Gentner.
F. White.