Festivals and Events


•  Wat Phou Festival – This festival is held during the third full moon of the lunar calendar on the grounds of the enchanting pre - Angkorian  Wat Phou ruins in Champasack festivities include elephant races, buffalo fights, cock fighting, traditional lao music and dance performances. to coincide with the festival

•  Lao New Year (Pi Mai Lao) – This is their biggest festival, held in April. Houses are cleaned, people put on new clothes and Buddha images are washed. In the wats, offerings of fruit and flowers are made at various altars. Later people take to the streets and dowse each other with water. The festival is biggest in Luang Prabang, where it includes elephant processions.

•  Rocket festival – This is a pre- Buddhist rain ceremony. Music, dance and processions, culminating in the firing of bamboo rockets into the sky. The firing of the rockets is supposed to prompt the heavens to initiate the rainy season and bring water to the rice fields.

•  Boat racing festival – This festival held after the end of the monks' three month fast and retreat during the rainy season ( Boun kao Pansa ) at down 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 decorated with flower, incense and candles are set adrift down the Mekong river to pay respect to the river spirit.

•  Rains Retreat (mid to late July, Full Moon) – This is the beginning of the traditional three month ‘rains retreat' during which Buddhist monks are expected to stay in a single monastery. This is also the traditional time of year for men to enter the monkhood as novices, so many ordinations take place.

•  Ancestor Respect (August/September, Full Moon) – This is a festival in which the living pay respect to the dead. Many cremations take place during this time and gifts are presented to the Sangha (Buddhist clergy) so that monks will chant on behalf of the deceased. Families visit bone stupas with offerings of candles, incense and flowers.

•  Pha That Luang Festival – (October/November) This takes place at Pha That Luang in Vientiane . Hundreds of monks assemble to receive alms and floral votives early in the morning on the first day of the festival, and there's a colourful procession between Pha That Luang and Wat Si Muang. The celebration lasts a week and includes fireworks and music, culminating in a candlelit circumambulation of That Luang.

•  Prince Vessantara Festival – This is a temple festival in which the jataka or birth tale of Prince Vessantara, the Buddha's penultimate life, is recited. This is also a favoured time for Lao males to be ordained into the monkhood.