Laos is a country with a very rich culture and religion as well as many interesting festivals. Year-round, the country hosts many traditional and colorful festivals. While major festivals in Laos are based on the Buddhist religion and follow the seasonal cycle of rice cultivation, there are also many fascinating mascot festivals. Discover the unique festivals in Laos that bring many interesting experiences to make the trip more complete and meaningful. Let’s find out about some major festivals in Laos in today’s article.
General information about festivals in Laos
The Lao festival, also known as boun, is considered a part of Laotian people’s life, mainly associated with historical Buddhist holidays or the interwoven agricultural seasons of the yang and lunar calendar. Festivals often include many eating and drinking activities in addition to lively music. Celebrations can vary from small villages coming together to celebrate a successful rice harvest to whole towns celebrating together, such as in Lao Pi Mai.
Laos shares a number of cultural festivals with neighboring Cambodia and Thailand such as Boun Souang Heua (Boat Racing Festival), and Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival). However, there are also some festivals that are exclusive to Laos. Since most festivals in Laos are based on the Buddhist lunar calendar, the dates will change from year to year. Here are the most special holidays and festivals in Laos.
Recommend some major festivals in Laos
Festival of the Lao New Year – Boun Pi Mai
The Lao New Year festival is held every year in mid-April, officially lasts three days (around April 13-15), but usually lasts a whole week. This festival is one of the biggest and most important celebrations for Lao people when houses are cleaned and Buddha statues are washed with holy water. People buy new clothes, go to temples to make offerings and watch colorful parades in cities, especially in Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
The highlight of the festival is the custom of splashing water because Lao people believe it will wash away all past mistakes or bad luck to usher in a healthy and prosperous new year. As one of the major national holidays, most offices, restaurants, and schools are closed during this time.
That Luang Festival
As a country where Buddhism is considered the national religion, almost every year there is a festival in Laos. In particular, That Luang Festival is a unique traditional festival imbued with Lao culture and attracts the attention of Lao people throughout the country and people of the Northeast provinces of Thailand, as well as international guests. That Luang festival takes place on the 12th day of the lunar calendar every month, lasts a week and ends on the full moon day of the month.
Here, thousands of artifacts in the fields of agriculture, industry, and handicrafts of industries and localities in the country and neighboring countries are displayed. One of the main features of the That Luang ceremony is the procession of the tower from Wat Si Muang to That Luang. Additionally, there is a magnificent nighttime fireworks display.
Boun Bang Fai, held in the dry season of May every year, is one of the busiest festivals in Laos dating back to pre-Buddhist times, as a call to rain from the people here. The festival is held on different days in different villages across the country and scattered throughout the month. Many villages gather and shoot giant homemade rockets into the sky to pray for rain for the planting season.
Laos’ rocket festival is quite noisy and crowded with a lot of specialties such as BeerLao and traditional dishes. Traditionally, rockets (bang fai) were made by stuffing gunpowder into long pieces of bamboo, but nowadays people have replaced them with PVC pipes. Rockets come in a variety of sizes, from small children’s to extra-large.
Boat Racing Festival – Boun Souang Heua
According to the Lao people, after three months of fasting, everyone has dispelled all their worries to start a new day, this is the time of the boat racing festival – a unique traditional festival of the Lao people. In Luang Prabang, the Boat Racing Festival held on Khao Padapdin from August 17 to 18 includes boat racing on the Nam Khan River and a trade fair in Luang Prabang city. Boat racing is just an opportunity to pray for luck and fortune. So, these days, workers from companies and offices are also off to participate in this festival.
In the evening, candlelit processions are held around the temples and hundreds of colorful flower carts decorated with flowers, incense, and candles are released into the Mekong River to give thanks to the river god, to pray for happiness. happiness and good things. Traditional Boat Racing Festival is considered the starting point to have fun, getting married, build a house…. in Laos. Therefore, it means a lot to the people who were born and raised in the “Land of million elephants“.
Rice Festival – Boun Khoun Khao
The Khoun Khao festival reflects and celebrates the agriculture of Laos, taking place in different villages throughout the month. The festival appreciates the spirit and richness of the land as well as the rice harvest. During the ceremony, a village elder ties a white cotton rope around everyone’s wrist and prays for their happiness. On festival days, many delicacies such as deep-fried calamari, papaya salad, and rice wine are sold to show gratitude to nature and the Mekong River for giving people bountiful crops. After the ceremonies, everyone will participate in exciting ethnic music and dance activities. This is also one of the major festivals in Laos.
Useful tips about festivals in Laos
One important thing to know about major festivals in Laos is that many dates and official locations will not be confirmed a week or two before. Since most festivals are based on the Buddhist lunar calendar, the exact date is often not known several days in advance. You should keep an eye on local travel websites to get the latest notifications about any upcoming festivals. For large festivals, you should book accommodation in advance because there will be a lot of visitors coming here to participate in the festival.
In addition, during the festival period, many services will be closed, so you need to plan and prepare in advance. Make sure valuables are stored in a safe and waterproof place. Finally, respect the local customs of Laos by wearing appropriate clothing and removing shoes before entering temples or other religious sites.
Above are some of the major festivals in Laos as well as a few notes when participating in festivals here. Prepare yourself with the necessary knowledge of cultural norms before attending. Discover these unique and exciting festivals that will make your visit to the “country of a million elephants” more complete and meaningful. It would be a good opportunity to spend the holiday in Laos and immerse yourself in these Lao celebrations to understand more about the culture and traditional aspects of the Laotian way of life.