EVENTS AND FESTIVALS IN LUANG PRABANG
Festivals hold a very important role in Laotian
culture and are reflective of its religion as well as
the many colonial and cultural influences, for instance
from the Siamese, Vietnamese and Khmer cultures.
The Boat Racing Festival in Luang Prabang
Just in front of our hotel you can enjoy the yearly boat racing spectacle, as men compete on the river in thin boats handcrafted from wood. This festival is held from August 17 through 18 and includes a trade fair in the city.
The festival Bun Pha Wet which is held in December or January
The locals visit the temple in recite jataka, which is the birth-tale of Prince Vessantara. At this time, many boys are ordained to be monks.
The Laotian new year, called Boun Pi Mai, which is held on April 13 - 15th
Its purpose is to encourage the rains. This calls for much celebration and ceremony. For instance, one of the ceremonies in Luang Prabang is Pimai, where monks cover the Statues of the Buddha with water. In the temples, small sand shrines, (called stupas) are erected and decorated with colorful ribbons, as a bid for health and happiness for the new year. The small town is filled with activity during this time - people are performing Laotian folk singing called Mor Lam, are feasting and are performing traditional Laotian dancing called Ram Wong.
Be prepared to get wet during this period!
Another important festival, Khao Phansaa, marks the arrival of the rainy season. During this 3 month period, all the monks in Luang Prabang must stay in their assigned monastery, since it is believed that this period is a time of intense growth and the monks do not want to kill the life is growing on the ground. Thus, they must travel less (In fact, only in recent years have monks been able to leave the temple at all. Now it is ok for the monks to leave for a short time during the day). During this time, women traditionally come to the Wats (temples) at sunset to pray and to offer candles to the monks since the monks can not leave to get them. Some monks also fast during this period.
Go and watch the 5.00 a.m. alms giving to the monks. It is a great daily sight but try not to intrude - photograph from a distance and do not break the line which is considered rude. This is a very peaceful and dignified ceremony.
Official site of the Luang Prabang provincial tourism department, with the exact dates of various events and festivals: