Laos is land of festivals as every village, every temple and every ethnic minority holds their own special celebrations. Even better, the wider Lao community come together to celebrate the national festivals as well. With the fascinating people, culture and festivals in Vientiane, a visit to the capital city is guaranteed to be exciting and enjoyable.
The most important festivals of Vientiane offer a rare and fascinating glimpse of the Laotian culture and the life of the Laotian people. But while most of the Vientiane locals will take on any excuse to have a celebration, most of their traditional festivals are still based on the Buddhist faith that dominates in the country. These celebrations are then not only a reason to get together with family and friends but are also ones that hold religious significance for the Lao people.
Most Buddhist festivals are held on a full moon day, which is why dates of some holidays are never fixed. Here are some of the most celebrated festivals in Vientiane.
- Lunar New Year – Chinese and Vietnamese New Year holidays are special celebrations in Vientiane. Chinese lion dances accompanied by drums, gongs and cymbals flood the streets of the capital city as they are performed in many homes and businesses to bring in good fortune.
- Pii Mai – Held during April, this week-long celebration commemorates the beginning of the Lao New Year. Buddha images are then cleansed with perfumed water while people are cleansed as well. Well-wishers then toss water to people as they pass by, making it impossible to stay dry during this time.
- Rocket Festival – Just as its name suggests, locals use bamboo and other materials to make feasible rockets. When they are launched into the sky, it is believed to be an effort to call upon the rains needed for rice planting. Each village then holds their own weekend celebration of the festival.
- Boat Festival – During the Buddhist Lent in October, the capital city hosts longboat races along the Mekong River as villages from all over the country come to participate in this exciting event. The huge town is then shut down as food stalls, fairs and games take over the riverfront of the Mekong River.
- Buon That Luang – During the full moon of October or November which is 28 days after the conclusion of the Buddhist Lent, monks that come from all over Laos gather together at the popular Thay Luang to receive alms, pray and meditate. The Pha That Luang is not only a religious monument of historical significance but is also an international symbol of the country. Hundreds of Buddhists also make the pilgrimage to Thau Luang for this significant event, which includes many colorful processions, a handicraft fair, food stalls, fireworks and a display of businesses and foreign embassies.
Laos is a country that carries impressive traditions, ethics and culture. There is no better way to enjoy Loatian culture than to arrange to be in Vientiane during one of its local festivals. Undoubtedly, the unique culture and festivals in Vientiane will make your stay in the capital city very worthwhile.