The culture and festivals in Luang Prabang best represent local customs and traditions, which answers why the locals of Luang Prabang truly are the archetype of all Laotian. The practices and activities in Luang Prabang are mostly religious in kind and the Buddhist calendar is mainly followed. So when you come to visit Luang Prabang, you will not only witness its festivities but you’ll also be able to observe the Laotian culture.
In fact, in most festival celebrations in Luang Prabang, tourists are encouraged to participate. And except for the months of July and September, Luang Prabang has festivities that you can plan your vacation around. Following are festivals in Luang Prabang you might want to see when you visit.
- Khoun Khao Festival. This festival runs for two days. It’s a harvest festival where the locals give offerings to the god of the land for fruitful harvest. They give thanks and perform several ceremonies and rituals. Tourists can witness this event by visiting temples or by going to remote villages.
- Magha Puja Festival. The Magha Puja festival is more passionately observed in Vientiane. One of the most important Buddhist festivals, it is celebrated by hearing repetitions of sermons that were once given by the Buddha.
- Vietnamese Tet Festival. This festival is observed only by those of Vietnamese and Chinese origins. It is a three-day New Year celebration where you’ll see lots of fireworks. There are also parties where family and friends gather together.
- International Women’s Day. Annually, on March 8, the International Women’s Day is celebrated in Luang Prabang. Joining other countries worldwide in acknowledging women’s contributions in the society, cultural events and exhibitions throughout the city can be found.
- Pi Mai Festival. This is Laos New Year’s Day. The celebration usually lasts for three days and is celebrated by the locals throwing water at each other. When you’re drenched in water thrown at you, you are believed to be purified during this festival. You’ll also see locals giving offerings at the temples and elephant parades in the streets. As a tourist you are also welcome to join in the festivities and throw water at everyone you see.
- Visakha Puja Festival. This festival is celebrated in honor of the Buddha. The locals perform several ceremonies to commemorate the birth, the death and the enlightenment of the Buddha. You can witness the rituals and ceremonies by visiting the temples in the villages.
- Bang Fai Festival. Also known as Rocket Festival, you’ll see the locals firing homemade rockets made of bamboo during the two-day celebration. The celebration is done to ask the gods to start the rain that will water rice fields. The rockets are supposed to remind the gods that it’s time to shower the country with rains.
- Khao Phansaa Festival. This is the Buddhist lent season. At this time, monks avoid going outside the temples and they stay inside the temples for three months.
- International Children’s Day. This usually happens on June 1. There will be games, music, parties and performances all dedicated to the children of Luang Prabang.
- Khao Padab Din Festival. This is done in honor of the dead and is one of the most sacred festivals in the country. You’ll see locals giving offerings to their dead and giving money to the monks in appreciation for the chants they’ve done for their deceased families.
- Constitution Day: This is a national holiday in Luang Prabang to commemorate the 1991 constitution implementation.