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Holidays in Laos

Festivals in Laos have a strong connection to both agricultural season and Buddhist ceremonies. Every year Laos festivals dates change according to the lunar calendar and some festivals are celebrated at different times at different town and cities.

Here is the list of festivals and events for one full year.
January
Public Holiday International New Year (1-3 January)
Boun Khun Khao (mid January)
Laos people celebrate the annual harvesting festival to offer thanks to the land of spirits for helping them to grow crops successfully.

February
Boun Makha Busa (Bun Khao Chi)
To celebrate the speech given by the Buddha to 1250 enlightened monks who came to hear him without prior notice. Chanting and offerings mark the festival, follow by culminating in candlelit circulation of wats during the evening.
Vietnamese tet & Chinese New Year(tut jin)
Celebration in big cities like Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse. Chinese and Vietnamese run-business usually close for three days.

March
Boun Pha Wet
This is a Buddhist ceremony which celebrate the virtue of Prince Vessantara who donated his own children to charity. During the the festival a story board with drawing pictures describing his story was hanged around the festival's hall for everyone to read and follow the story.
In the after-noon a selected monks from a different temples take turn to recite the Jataka tale Phravetsandone chapter by chapter until fully completed. In this festival, it is also an occasion for senior abbots to ordain new monks.

April
Boun Pi Mai (Lao New Year, 14-16 April)
The whole country celebrates Lao New Year. People clean their houses, put on their new clothes and wash Buddha images with scented water. In Wats, people offer food and flowers to the monks. Later on they douse one other and sometimes random tourists with water, which is an appropriate activity during Lao New Year.
In Luang Prabang this is one of Laos festivals most particularly picturesque, it also features a beauty contest with the crowning of Nang Sangkhan (Miss Bun Phi Mai Lao). All three days 14, 15 and 16 are Laos public holidays.

 

May
Boun Visakha Busa
This is a special day in Buddhist religion, which is considered to be the day of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing away (pariniphan). All celebration is happening in wats, and at night there is a colorful candlelit processions around the festival's hall.

June
Boun Bang Fai

This festival is taking place through out the month of June before the raining season started. This is a very entertaining of Laos festivals in the whole country, with folk music, traditional dancing and xeung bang fai with coarse sexual languages.
The firing of rockets is to worship the Lords of Heaven, hoping they can send much needed water to the rice field. Celebration's dates are vary from villages to villages.

July
Boun Khao Phansa
This festival is marking the beginning of three months "rain retreat" which mean Buddhist monks are expected to station themselves in a single temple. At others time of the year they allow to travel anywhere but in this season they have to remain in one place for the whole three months. So they can not go out to damage the crop and the rice field.
This is also the traditional time of the year for men to become the monks temporarily or permanently.

August/September
Boun Haw Khao Padap Din
To celebrate the occasion believing on this day the dead are allowed to return home to get food, money, clothing and others necessities as we need in daily life. Therefore, people go to Wats and offer the above things to the monks hoping when their ancestors return they will receive them.
All activities happen both at home and at wats. At home during night time young people go from house to house to tuk bet khao tom. This is an entertaining activities and have been practicing for century.

October
Boun Ok Phansa
This festival is to celebrate the end of the monks three months station in the temple, so from now on the monks can go anywhere they want. On the eve of Boun Ok Phansa at night there is a ceremony of Lai Heau Fai which take place in Mekong river.
Heau Fai is made of lot of banana trunks tie together about approximately half a meter length from each others. The total length of Heau Fai vary between 5m to 10m long. On top of the rack there is a big banana skin built to hold the burning agent and when burning the fire create a spectacular scene seeing from the bank of river.
Boun Suang Heau (Boat Racing Festival)
This festival held in many towns along the Mekong river, including the most popular one in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Dates can vary from towns to towns.

November
Boun Phra That Luang (That Luang Festival)
Celebration last for one week including the exhibition shows from many different countries around the world. Beside religious activities, there are traditional sports like Lao hockey and horse racing. This is the most popular laos festivals, as every night during the week there are live bands music, movies, games, children shows/rides and much, much more...

December
Lao National Day (Boun Van Xat- 2 December)
This public holiday celebrates the 1975 victory of the Lao People Revolutionary Party. Ceremony includes military parades, speeches and decoration of national flags along the street.
In summary all Laos festivals are celebrated according to lunar calender in relation to Buddhism.