Events & Festivals in Laos
Laos has many festivals, or Boun scattered throughout the year to commemorate various aspects of traditional Lao lifestyle and culture. Most festivals are connected with religion and follow the rice farming seasonal cycle. The timing each festivals is calculated according to the Buddhist lunar calendar which changes every year. Please check the latest information before attending these events.
NATIONAL TEACHERS DAY - 7th
Teacher’s Day is celebrated to honor the first teacher in Laos, Mr. Kham, who became a teacher in 1909. When the French colonized Laos in 1893 there was no formal education system because the French basically used Lao people as slaves. There were only two schools in Laos and few people had access to them. One student, Mr. Kham, was the first student to graduate and went on to train as a teacher. He taught around the country and trained other teachers. On National Teacher’s Day, the country takes a day to recognize his hard work and the work of all the teachers that have come after him.
BOUN OK PHANSA - 29th (2023), 17th (2024)
Marking the end of Buddhist Lent, this festival falls on the last full moon of the rainy season (the 15th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar). All monks end their 3-month fast and those who were ordained for the phansa period leave the wat to rejoin their families. In the morning, offerings are made at temples around the country, and in the evening the people gather for Boun Heua Fai, or the Festival of Lights.
LHAI HEUA FAI, FESTIVAL OF FLOATING BOATS OF LIGHT
This festival also marks the end of Buddhist Lent and is meant to bring in the phanga naga or good luck. As part of the tradition, each household will make a small round boat out of banana leaves on part of a banana tree trunk into which they put flowers, incense sticks, candles, betel nuts, and sometimes food and money. Temples and villages also take part, creating larger and more elaborately decorated boats made out of bamboo and colored paper.
These boats are then paraded through town making its way eventually to the river. The handmade boats are delicately placed on the river with their candles alit. Prayers fill the air, giving homage and respect to Buddha, the divinities who inhabit the river, and the Mekong itself. people also ask for blessing and to float their bad luck for the past year away, enabling the good luck to flow in. With the soft glow of candles reflecting on the water, the boats filled with offerings are gently sent floating downriver. It makes for a truly breathtaking scene. This tradition has been happening for thousands of years.
Naga Rocket - 10th
The fireballs coming out from the water’s surface can be seen once a year on the last night of the Lao Buddhist Lent. The Naga Rockets can be spotted where the Nam Ngum and the Mekong river meet in Thaprabath District, Bolikhamxay Province, as well as in Pak Ngum District, 60 kilometers east of Vientiane.
BOAT RACING FESTIVAL, VIENTIANE CAPITAL - 30th (2023), 28th (2024)
Following Boun Heua Fai, Vientiane hosts an exciting boat racing competition on the Mekong River the next day.
LUANG PRABANG HALF MARATHON
Luang Prabang Half Marathon also known as the "La Procession” starts at the National Museum in town and comprises of 7k, 14k, and 21k races. This charity event raises money for a specific cause each year. Individual runners can also raise money to support a separate cause of their choice.
LAO HANDICRAFT FESTIVAL
The handicraft Festival has been internationally recognized where customers and traders came from different countries around Asia and some other continents. The festival occurs during the month of November at Lao ITECC. Beyond 200 professional artists from all over the world participates on this event. The fest showcases various products including jewelry, textiles, handicrafts, souvenirs, and even agricultural and food products which include oil, tea and coffee. The festival gives courage and appreciates the culture, traditional designs, and skills of every individual.