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LAOS
FESTIVALS & EVENTS

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Festivals in Laos take place throughout the year and mark important events in the calendar. From the firing of rockets into the sky to remind the gods to send rain to the boat races which mark the end of Buddhist lent, the celebrations are colorful and meaningful and the people take every opportunity to celebrate their country’s heritage and history.

Date
Location
February
Sayabouly

Elephant Festival

February 12-14 2017

This two-day annual festival is held in Sayabouly Province to celebrate elephants and support their wellbeing. There is a grand parade and the animals are bathed and blessed by monks. There is music, dancing and performances, carnival style celebrations and religious ceremonies, which culminate in the crowning of ‘Elephant of the year’.

 
 
April
Countrywide

Lao New Year

April 12 2017

This three-day national holiday is one of the most popular in the Laotian calendar. Families clean their houses and youngsters pour water over the hands of their elders to ask for blessings. There are huge water fights in the streets to symbolize the cleansing of the soul for the new year and people visit temples to make merit.

 
 
April/May
Countrywide

Boun Bang Fai

May 6-10 2016

This two- or three-day festival takes place throughout the sixth lunar month. People make bamboo rockets and compete to fire them high into the sky; there are parties with drinking and dancing and the men dress as women. The ritual is supposed to invoke the wrath of the gods so they will send rain to water the crops.

 
 
October
Bolikhamxa

Naga Rocket

October 8 2014 | October 27 2015

The night of Naga Fireballs usually occurs on the last day of Buddhist Lent. People visit the Mekong River on this night to see burning orbs bursting out of the surface and rising into the sky in Pakngum Province. The cause of the phenomena is much contested but traditionally it is believed to be produced by the mythical river snake.

 
 
October
Countrywide

Boat Racing Festival

October 27 2015

The end of Buddhist Lent is a two-day celebration. Offerings and donations are made to the monks at the temples and in the evening, candlelit floats are set adrift on the river to pay homage to the river. The following day, the people line the banks of the Mekong to watch the exciting boat races and celebrate the river gods.

 
 
November
Vientiane

That Luang Festival

November 4-6 2014 | November 23-25 2015

This important three-day Buddhist festival is held at one of Laos’ most sacred temples. A procession takes place in the evening around Vientiane’s founding pillar. People carry ‘castles’ of wax flowers and incense and the following day, offer them at That Luang. On the day of the full moon, offerings are made to the monks.

 
 
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