March-April, Boun Pha Vet (Vesantra Festival)
A ceremony of offering donation to have one's future read from a piece of paper draw, during the three day and three night festival. The festival is held around local temples in Vientiane.
14-15-16 April, "Boun Pi Mai" Lao New Year
The Lao New Year is celebrated at the same time each year (April 14-16). This year, the 14th is the first day of the New Year. On the 14th, Buddha images are taken out of the temples to be cleansed with scented water by devotees, and placed on special temporary altars within the compounds of "wats" (temples).
Devotees gather the scented water falling off the images to take home and use it to pour on friends and relatives, as an act of cleansing and purification before entering the New Year. On the evening of the 16th, the images are returned to their proper shriners within the temples.
May, Boun Bang Fai (Rocket Festival)
A ceremony for praying for rain is performed at the temple in the morning. In the afternoon, people gather in fields on the outskirts of villages and towns to launch the rockets with much abandoned revelry. Villages, communities and civil departments compete for the "best decorated" and the "highest traveling" rocket. Beginning around the middle of May, the festivals are staged from place to place, enabled more participation and attendance. This is the time when an offering to the spirits can be made in a corner of one's garden, early each morning.
May, Boun Visakhaboucha
This festival is held in Vientiane during the sixth full moon of the lunar calendar for the Buddha. Candlelight processions are held in temples to mark the birthdate of Buddha.
July, Boun Khao Pansa (Buddhist Lent)
This is the beginning of the Buddhist Lent. During the next three month period, monks spend most of their time in prayer and meditation and are restricted from spending nights in other "wats". This festival is held during the eighth full moon of the lunar calendar.
14 September, Boun Khao Salak
This is for offerings to be made for dead ancestors to obtain merit. Popular and exciting longboat racing competitions are held to celebrate the river. This festival is held during the tenth full moon of the lunar calendar.
14-15 October, Boun Ok Pansa, Boat Racing Festival
This is the festival held after the end of the monks’ three month fast and retreat during the rainy season (Boun Khao Pansa). At dawn on the first day, donations and offerings are made at temples around the city. In the evening, candlelight processions are held at temples and hundreds of colorful floats decorated with flowers, incense and candles are set adrift down the Mekong River to pay respect to the river spirit. The following day in Vientiane, Savannakhet and Champasack Province, a popular and exciting boat racing competition is held to celebrate along the Mekong River and its tributaries.
“Naga Rockets”, the fireballs, coming out from the water’s surface, can be seen once a year on the last night of the Lao Buddhist Lent. The Naga rockets can be spotted where the Nam Ngum and the Mekong river meet in Thaprabath district, Bolikhamxai province, as well as in Pak Ngum district, 60 km east of Vientiane.
10-12 November, That Luang Festival in Vientiane
This religious festival is held in and around That Luang Stupa, the National Symbol of Laos, where hundreds of monks representing all Lao temples gather to accept alms and floral votives from the people. The festival includes a grand fireworks display at night.
During the day, an international trade fair, showcasing tourism in Laos and other countries from ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Sub-region. The That Luang festival attracts Lao people and foreigners alike from around the world every year. It is the largest festival of Laos. During the same period a similar festival is also celebrated at Ching Tim Stupa in Luang Namtha Province.
December, Hmong New Year
Celebrated in Oudomxay, Sayaboury, Xieng Khouang, Luang Prabang and Vientiane Provinces, the Hmong New Year celebration features colorful displays of traditional costumes made from green, red and white silk and ornate silver jewelry.
Music from traditional Hmong instruments such as the teun flute, Hmong style khene pipe and leaf blowing is enjoyed. Other festivities include the Makkhon (cotton-ball) throwing ceremony, ox fighting spinning top races and crossbow demonstrations.