The Major Festivals of Laos
Laos is a quiet and peaceful country on most occasions but when their beloved festivals come by, Laotians celebrate with great gusto. South-East Asia has a great deal of overlapping and intermingling traditions but every country in this region is proud to have their own identity.
Laos’ many festivals are intertwined with their humble agricultural lifestyle or their devotion to Buddhism. You will see that many of the festivals revolve around these central concepts and they inform how the festival is usually going to be celebrated.
Take the time to learn a little bit more about each of these festivals so that you can visit Laos to experience them in person.
Boun Bang Fai
The monsoon season is so important to the people of Laos and it is incredibly important that good rains provide them with a bountiful harvest. Boun Bang Fai is the “Rocket Festival” and it takes place just before the rainy season begins.
The festival is characterised by many musical performances that include dances, singing and processions of floats. The most exciting aspect of the festival is the competitive rocket making and firing competition that takes place on the third day.
Local participants form teams of keen rocket-builders to construct the best rockets using traditional bamboo rocket bases that are elaborately decorated. The rockets are all fired from a communal launch-pad and teams are judged on three categories, ‘Highest Flier’, ‘Most Beautiful Rocket’ and ‘Most Entertaining Team’.
The entire event takes place with much merriment and humour as teams try to entertain the audience while the rockets are being set up and ready to fire. Boun Bang Fai takes place on the outskirts of Vientiane but it is more elaborate in the neighbouring cities of Nason, Natham, Pakhanhoung and so on. You can watch the rockets and enjoy the festival from May 3–7, 2019
Pi Mai Lao
The festival of Pi Mai Lao, known to the rest of the world as “The Laotian New Year”, is the most anticipated festival celebrated in Laos. Everyone looks forward to the festival as it is celebrated across the country and it has deep significance to Laotian society. Much like the “Songkran festival” in Thailand, Pi Mai Lao is celebrated over a 3-day period, where people throw water on each other and partake in many different festivities.
The first day of the festival is the last day of the old year, this is when people clean their homes and villages. The second day of the festival is the “day of no day” as it is not the old year or the new year and the last day marks the start of the new year. Celebrations and events will take place all over Laos during Pi Mai Lao and Vientiane is no different. Pi Mai Lao takes place all over Laos but here are some of the most exciting streets you can visit in Vientiane for Pi Mai Lao 2019, which takes place from April 14-17 in 2019.
Boun That Luang
That Luang is known as the “Great Stupa” in the centre of Vientiane. This Buddhist stupa is the largest one in Laos and it is regarded to be the most important national monument in the country.
The devoutly Buddhist Laotians celebrate this sacred stupa, which is said enshrine a relic from Buddha himself every November. For three days, monks and laypeople carry out religious ceremonies at That Luang, while various other ceremonies take place in the lead up to the festival.
The week after the three-day religious ceremony is when the festivities really kick off with folk music and dances taking place in the area. You’ll also get the opportunity to see Phasat Phueng or wax castles that are integral to the religious ceremony and the procession around That Luang. Boun That Luang will take place on November 22 this year.
Boun Xuang Huea
The end of Buddhist Lent or ‘Awk Phansa’ in Vientiane signals the the start of the Vientiane Boat Racing Festival. Although it is held in Vientiane, it is considered to be a huge national festival that the whole country get excited about.
Fa Ngum Road, which runs parallel to the Mekong River in Vientiane becomes the epicentre of carnival-like atmosphere filled with Laotians, who have come from all over the watch the three categories of boat races.
Although Boun Xuang Huea takes place in other places around Laos as well, the festival is Vientiane is the most beloved and you can watch it on October 25 in Vientiane.
Laos’ rich culture and traditional festivals are unique and beautiful in their simplicity and their celebrations. Stay with us at the Crowne Plaza Vientiane and experience any of these dazzling cultural festivities when visit Laos next.