Festivals in 12 months

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Festival Calendar in 12 months

1

January

Boun Pha Vet

  • Who: Lao Buddhists
  • What: in this 3-day temple-based festival, the story of Prince Vestsantara (the Buddha’s penultimate life) is recited.
  • Where: in Temples throughout Luang Prabang

Boun Khoun Khao

  • Who: Lao Buddhists, both lay people and monks.
  • What: a celebration of the rice harvest to give thanks to the spirit of the land and ensure the bounty of the next harvest. This festival is centred around a religious ceremony honouring rice.
  • Where: at Temples throughout Luang Prabang.
February

2

February

Boun Makha Bousa

  • Who: Lao Buddhists
  • What: Held during the full moon, this festival commemorates a speech given by Buddha to 1,250 enlightened monks.
  • Where: Temples throughout Luang Prabang.
  • When: January 28th.
April

4

April

Boun Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year)

  • Who: All of Lao

It’s the most popular cultural festival in Luang Prabang – a time of year when locals let their hair down and the entire town get exciting. Pi Mai, otherwise known as Lao New Year, is a festival celebrated at the hottest time of the year – which is just as well, because most people remain drenched with water for the majority of the event. It’s known as the festival of water fights but there are lots of other cultural activities that run over the week including an elephant procession through the main street, a grand parade that involves thousands of locals wearing traditional and ornate costumes, a beauty pageant to crown ‘Miss Lao New Year’, sand stupa merit making by the Mekong River, as well as the carrying of the Prabang – the town’s most precious Buddha – from it’s home at the National Museum to Wat Mai where it is put on public display as part of a watering ceremony.

  • Where: Everywhere — watch out, you might get wet!
  • When: April 10st – 25th 

(The ceremony of watering the Buddha images on blessing at every temple in Luang Prabang 14th, and Parade on 15th-16th)

May

5

May

Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)

  • Who: The people of Muang Nan
  • What: a rain-making and fertility festival held in Muang Nan, about 1 hour 30 minutes south of Luang Prabang city by road. Held just before the rainy season, it is a wild and happy ceremony, involving music, dance and street processions and culminating in the firing of rockets to tempt the gods to produce the rain needed for rice cultivation.
  • Where: located 75 kilometres south-west of Luang Prabang town. There are 2 ways to get there by Song-Theo are 5 times a day: 8:00 am | 10:00 am | 12:00 pm | 14:00 pm| 16:00 pm| or the bus to Xayaboury, there are 2 times a day 09:00 am and 14:00 pm.
  • when: May26–29th

Boun Visakha Bousa

  • Who: Lao Buddhists
  • What: on the fifteenth day of the sixth lunar month, this festival celebrates the birth, death and tatsahou (enlightenment) of Buddha.
  • Where: Temples throughout Luang Prabang.
  • When: April 26th
July

7

July

Boun Khao Phansa

  • Who: Monks and Novices
  • What: Held on the full moon day, this festival marks the beginning of Khao Phansa–often called ‘Buddhist Lent’–a three month period of monastic seclusion and meditation during the rainy season.
  • Where: All over Lao. You can see one of the biggest Saibat in a year in the local temples.
  • When: July 24th
September

9

September

Souang Heua (Boat Racing Festival)

  • Who: Everyone
  • What: This is a big day in the city of Luang Prabang’s calendar as boats from the different villages compete to win the honour of the fastest boat on the river. Two boats race for around 400 metres on the Nam Khan, the winner goes on to the next round. The grand final winner will have run 4 – 5 races in one afternoon to have beaten all competitors.
  • Where: Nam Khan River, Luang Prabang city centre
  • When: September 06th.

Market Fair

  • Who: Luang Prabang community
  • What: Held the day before the annual Boun Souang Heua (Boat Racing Festival), the market fair draws hundreds of vendors from around the country for a special street-market day that starts early in the morning and ends in the afternoon.
  • Where: Market fair start from the Old Stadium grounds to the Tourism Information Centre and Boat racing at along Khan river.
  • When: September 6th

Boun Khao Salak

  • Who: Lao Buddhists
  • What: This full moon festival involves the presentation of offerings to a specific monk (decided by a lottery system). Offerings include daily necessities such as books, pens, sugar, coffee and cigarettes. Laypeople also give wax flower candles to the monks. The ritual brings merit to the givers.
  • Where: Temples throughout Luang Prabang
  • When: September 21th
October

10

October

Boun Ork Phansa

  • Who: Lao Buddhists
  • What: This is a full moon ceremony ending the rainy season of monastic seclusion (Phansa). Monks who were ordained during this period leave the temple and rejoin their families. The festival also involves launching candle-lit offerings on the river at night.
  • Where: Temples throughout Luang Prabang, Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers.
  • When: October 21th.

Boun Lai Heua Fai

  • Who: Everyone
  • What: This is a festival to ask the nagas (water spirits) to bring good luck. Each village makes and decorates a boat which are then paraded through town and at night launched onto the river and ceremonially set on fire as offerings to the spirits. Flowers are also scattered onto the river to prevent bad luck and thank the water spirits.
  • Where: Throughout Luang Prabang.
  • When: October 22th.
December

12

December

Boun Pod Pi or Boun Kreu (Khmu New Year)

  • Who: Members of the Khmu ethnic community and visitors
  • What: The Khmu are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Laos. They also live in southwest China and parts of Thailand and Vietnam. Each year they come together in December to celebrate Khmu New Year. The celebrations take place at a different village each year on the outskirts of Luang Prabang where traditional clothing is worn and many Khmu games are played. It’s the best time of year to see men dancing with large clay pots, full of water, in their mouths – a spectacular sight – as well as other Khmu cultural displays. The event usually begins with a special bassi ceremony followed by lots of singing and dancing. The Khmu are known for their rice whisky, which is distilled in large clay pots and kept underground or in the dark for many months. The festival is a time for drinking and eating Lao food.
  • Where: Khmu villages (such as Ban Lak Paed)
  • When: choosing date depends on lunar calendar, mostly organize on the end of year

Boun Kin Chiang (Hmong Festival)

  • Who: Members of the Hmong ethnic community and visitors
  • What: The Hmong are an ethnic group of people from the mountainous regions of Laos, Thailand, China, Myanmar and Vietnam. There are several tribes that live in Laos, each with their own unique customs and costumes, they are known as Black Hmong (Hmoob Dub), Striped Hmong (Hmoob Txaij), White Hmong (Hmoob Dawb), and Green Hmong (Moob Leeg/Moob Ntsuab).

Every December the Hmong people in the villages surrounding Luang Prabang gather for the Hmong New Year festival which is a celebration that takes place over a week and includes Hmong music, traditional ball games, dancing and a beauty pageant. Both men and women adorn themselves in colourful handmade garments with intricate headpieces and jewellery. The festival includes a fun fair with rides for children as well as many market stalls that sell souvenirs and food.

A different village plays host to the event each year so be sure to check our Facebook page closer to the date for specific information about the upcoming event.

  • Where: Hmong villages (such as Meung Nga, Khua Tee Nung and Phou Chang Kham village)
  • When: choosing date depends on lunar calendar, mostly organize on the end of year

Solar Year Countdown Party

  • Who: Visitors, Foreigners, and people of Luang Prabang
  • What: The Tourism Office sponsors a count-down party to commemorate the start of the new year on the solar calendar.
  • Where: The street market near the start of the Night Market, across the street from the Tourism Office.
  • When: December 30th-31st.
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