Holidays and Festivals
Festivals in Laos are largely linked to agricultural seasons or historical Buddhist holidays. The general word for festival in Laos is bun (merit) - which means doing good things during the festivities in order to gain merit for a life after death.
- New Year - public holiday in deference to Western calendar.
- That Phanom Festival- an annual weeklong to the Northeast's most sacred Buddhist Stupa (Phra That Phanom) in Nakorn Phanom Province.
- Bun Maka Bucha - the celebration of Buddha's speech referred to regulations of monasteries and his death. The festival is celebrated with chanting and presenting offering at various temples throughout the country. The biggest celebrations occur at the Khmer ruins of Vat Phou near Champassak.
- Magha Bucha- held on the full moon of the third lunar month to commemorate Buddha preaching to 1250 enlightened monks. A public holiday throughout the country, it culminates with a candle-lit walk around the main chapel.
- Phra Nakorn Khiri Diamond Festival- this is a weeklong celebration of Phetchaburi's history and architecture focused on Phra Nakorn Khiri Historical Park (also known as Khao Wang), a hill topped by a former royal palace overlooking the city. It features a sound and light show on Khao Wang; the temples are festooned with lights and presentations of Thai classical dance-drama.
- International Women's Day - 8 March - Official holiday, women do not have to work.
- Bun Pimailao (Laos New Year)- 14-16 April - "Pi Mai" means New Year. It is the time when the Lao celebrate the start of their Lunar calendar. Practically, the entire country grinds to a halt of the festivals. Houses are cleaned; people wear new clothes and Buddha images are washes with holy water. People splash water on each other along the street, especially in Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
- International Labour Day - 1 May - public holiday.
- Bun Visaka Bucha (Festival of Rockets) - This is one of the most important festivals in celebration of the birth, the enlightenment and the death of Buddha. In the festival, the visitors can see chanting and sermonising at night, followed by beautiful candlelit processions.
- International Children's day- 1 June - public holiday..
- Rocket Festival- in the northeast, villagers craft large skyrockets of bamboo, which they then fire into the sky to bring rain for rice fields. This festival in the town of Yasothon but is also good in UbonRatchatani and Nong Kai. It's known is Thai as Bun Bang Fai.
- Bun Khaophansa- This is the beginning of the traditional three months 'rain-retreat", during which Buddhist monks are expected to refrain from wandering and station themselves in a single monastery. It is the traditional time of the year for men to temporarily enter the monkshood; hence, other celebrations can be viewed at temples around the country..
- National day of Constitution- 15 August - public holiday.
- Boat Racing Festival in Luang Prabang- This festival includes boat on Mekong River and fair in Luang Prabang city together with other associated festivals.
- Victory Day - 23 August- public holiday.
- Bun Haw Khao Salaak (Ancestor's Day)- Lao people offer food and other things to venerable monks and novices for ancestors.
- Bun Suangheua (Boat Racing in Vientiane)- on the occasion of the end of Buddhist lent, people organise boat races on the Mekong River in Vientiane. Colourful floats decorated with flowers, incense, and candles are set adrift down the Mekong River in thanksgiving to the river spirits too.
- Independence Day - 1 November - public holiday.
- Bun That Luang Vientiane, That Luang Festival - 1 November - This religious festival is held in and around That Luang Stupa, the national symbol of Laos, where hundreds of monks gather to accept alms and floral votive form the people. The festival includes a grand fireworks display at night.
- National Public Holiday- 2 December - public holiday.