Festivals and Events
The people of Laos like a good celebration and there's plenty of reasons to put on a festival with a calendar of events that mark the agricultural seasons or honour important dates linked to the life of Buddha. Here's a selection of our favourite.
Lao Food Festival
Run by the Lao Women's Union and Lao Businesswomen's Association, this festival is in its eleventh year and brings together traditional Lao cuisine for everyone to try. It's held in Vientiane over the course of three days in January.
Boun Ma Kha Bu Saar (Full Moon) Festival
Celebrated in temples and Wats across the country with the biggest celebrations taking place at the Khmer ruins of Vat Phu Champasack, this festival marks the day when Buddha delivered a speech to some 1,250 monks with chanting, candles and processions.
Boun Pi Mai (New Year) Festival
This is one of the most important celebrations in Laos with three days dedicated as a public holiday during which families get together to clean out their homes, provide offerings to local temples and decorate images of Buddha with flowers. Like Songkran in Thailand, it's a time for frivolity with friendly water fights held on the streets.
Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
Held between April and June each year, this loud and boisterous celebration invites people across Laos to set off handmade rockets in order to herald in the rains for the forthcoming harvest. Music and dance performances accompany the main event alongside colourful processions in the larger towns and cities.
Boun Khao Padabdin (Rice Growing) Festival
Laos' version of the Day of the Dead, every September families across the country honour dead relatives and ancestors with offerings of rice and over foods. For visitors, a highlight of the festival is the handmade boats that are raced along the Mekong River in conjunction with Boun Khao Padabdin.
Boun Ok Phansa
This festival honours the Buddhist monks that have spent the last three months fasting for lent with offerings of food presented to local temples. It's a pretty time to visit with flowers and candles set adrift on rivers to symbolise the letting go of bad luck.
That Luang Festival
During the full moon of the twelfth lunar month (November) thousands of monks and pilgrims descend on the gold-covered Grand Stupa (Pha That Luang) in Vientiane. Bearing candles and floral votives, it's a particularly joyous time to visit though accommodation and other services book up quickly.