Laos has 15 public holidays and many more local festivals or events throughout the year that celebrate religious observations, rainmaking ceremonies, and harvest festivities. This is a great time to experience the Laos holidays with a change to join in with the festive fun and entertainment.
Here are a few of the popular Laos festivals and events:
The Magha Puja is held in February and is a festival that marks the first teachings of Lord Buddha that were received by a 1000 plus disciples who sat and listened to him speak. This celebration is acknowledged by large parades of locals bearing candles and circling the local temple. Other activities include chanting, religious music and merit-making.
This is one of the most sacred days for followers of the religion and is also celebrated in neighbouring countries like Thailand and Cambodia.
Boun Pi Mai
The Boun Pi Mai (or Lao New Year) is a major occasion in the country that lasts several days in April and combines meditation and merriment. This is a great time to host a celebration that reflects on the upcoming years, as well as reinforcing family bonds and rejoicing Lao identity. There are a variety of activities to see during this time of the years for the travellers on the Laos tour packages, such as visiting temples to give offerings, taking part in colourful parades, watching singing and dancing, and enjoying the throwing water festivals.
The most religious aspect of this festival is witnessed in Luang Prabang where water pouring ceremonies are carried out with the Buddha images. Also, the local temples are outfitted with decorations with fine sand Stupas that are intended to promote good health and fortune.
Boun Khoun Khao
The Boun Khoun Khao (also referred to as the Rice Festival) is held in January/February/March and one of the agricultural festivals that is celebrated at local temples. It is dedicated to celebrating the new harvest and one of the more important local festivals. A major event is held in Vientiane. Any tourists that are in the local area on the Laos tours will get to witness the customs and traditions of the small villages. In addition to the ceremonies and rituals, there are other activities to entertain, such as singing and dancing to traditional music.
The Visakha Puja festival is held in May with the intention of celebrating the life of Lord Buddha, including his birth, enlightenment and death. This temple festival is celebrated with candle lit processions, religious instruction and chanting. Visakha Puja lasts for a single day and is celebrated in local temples throughout the country. This is a great time for the tourists on the Laos customized tour to watch sermonizing and chanting at night.
The Khao Phansa festival is held to mark the start of the 3 month Buddhist Lent, which begins with the full moon in July and runs until October’s full moon. This is a time when the local Lao men may look to enter monkhood and celebrated with a variety of ordination ceremonies. Also, for the duration of the Buddhist Lent period the monks will remain in their temple to meditate and study Buddha’s teachings. Travel for the monks is prohibited and they cannot revert to a lay person during this time. On conclusion of the ceremony, the monks are presented with gifts.
Boun Nam (water festival)
The Boun Nam festival (also called the water festival) is a very popular event in the riverside towns such as Savannakhet, Luang Prabang and Vientiane. This festival usually takes place in October and includes the Boun Nam boat race with the highly competitive helmsman.
Similar events like these with the boat races are held in the smaller communities, but not taking place until later in the year, such as 2nd December for National Day.
Boun That Luang
The Boun That Luang is a well-established festival in Vientiane with the stupa playing a major part as the local monks congregate to accept alms and gifts from townsfolk and worshipers. For the duration of this festival, which usually lasts an entire week, the temple is alive with music, fireworks, contests, fairs, and ended with a procession with locals holding candles while walking around the large Buddhist stupa, That Luang.
This is a great moment to visit the country on the Laos family tour because this time is also used to promote an international trade fair to help encourage tourism in the Mekong River region. This festival takes place in October or November.
Haw Khao Padap Din
The Haw Khao Padap Din festival is intended to pay respect to the dead. This event is marked by the local Lao people exhuming their dead, cleaning the remains, and then to have the bodies cremated. This cremation takes place on the night of the full moon. While the ceremonies are taking place, the attending monks will chant and pray for the people who have passed away. Also, the relatives of the deceased will offer a variety of gifts to the monks, while other devotees will present gifts at their local temple. Other activities on the day of a lighter nature include a trade fair in Luang Prabang and a boat race on the Nam Khan River which also flows through this town.
Chinese New Year and Vietnamese Tet
The Chinese New Year and Vietnamese Tet are both celebrated in Laos with the major events held in Savannakhet, Pakse and Vientiane which by far have the greatest Chinese and Vietnamese communities. These events can last for several days and during this time there are plenty of businesses that will stay closed for the duration. The activities are varied and include the religious aspects like visiting the local temples and taking part in merit-making, while there are also the lively parties that include plenty of firecrackers.