For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.


New Year's Day. The worldwide holiday is celebrated in Laos. January 1.

Pathet Lao Day. This holiday celebrates the victory of the Pathet Lao against the royalist Western-backed government of the time. January 6.

Army Day. This celebrates the founding of the Lao People's Army in 1949 by Kaysone Phomvihane in the former revolutionary stronghold of Huaphan province. January 20.

Boun Khoun Khao. This holiday is celebrated after the rice harvest. A ceremony takes place to give thanks to the spirits of the land and make good luck for the next harvest. Late January to early February.


Chinese and Vietnamese New Year's (Kud Chin and Kud Viet). These are celebrated with a bang -- fireworks, parties, and merit making take place at Chinese and Vietnamese temples. February 14, 2010; February 3, 2011.

Boun Makha Bousa. As in Cambodia and Thailand, this holiday takes place on the full moon to commemorate the speech given by the Lord Buddha to 1,250 enlightened monks who had gathered with no organization or prior warning. In the evening, people visit the temple and circle the wat three times with candles in a ceremony known as vien tian. February 21, 2010; February 19, 2011.

Boun Khao Chi. Special offerings of sticky rice coated with eggs are made to monks. It is associated with Mahka Bousa. Late February.


International Women's Day. This public holiday honors women in Lao society, with celebrations at homes and in offices. March 8.

Day of the People's Party. This day celebrates the ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party and all its works. March 22.

Boun Pha Vet. Lasting 3 days and 3 nights, this religious festival celebrates Buddha's previous incarnation before being born as Prince Siddhartha. Late March.


Lao New Year (Boun Pi Mai). Celebrated for 3 days, this is the most important celebration of the year. The Pi Mai festival is all about water in daily life, and no one is spared the bucket. Dress is casual. In Laos, the festival still retains more of its original gracious character. The best place to experience it is in Luang Prabang. The Luang Prabang festivities include a procession, a fair, a sand-castle competition on the Mekong, a Miss New Year pageant, folk performances, and cultural shows. Make sure you're booked and confirmed in hotels before you go. April 14 to April 16, 2010; April 13 to April 15, 2011.


Labor Day. The international day celebrating workers. May 1.

Rocket Festival (Boun Bang Fai). This is essentially an animist rainmaking and fertility festival, held just before the start of the rainy season. Huge homemade rockets are fired into the air to prompt the gods to create rain for the upcoming rice-growing season. This is a wild and happy ceremony with music, dancing, performances, and processions. Mid-May.

Boun Visakha Bousa. This festival celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Lord Buddha. It is held on the 15th day of the sixth lunar month. Candlelit processions take place in the evening. Late May.


Children's Day. Lao people adore kids and this is a day to remember the little ones. June 1.


Boun Khao Phansa. At local temples, worshipers in brightly colored silks greet the dawn on Buddhist Lent by offering gifts to the monks and pouring water into the ground as a gesture of offering to their ancestors. Lent begins in July and lasts 3 months. Monks are required to stay within their wat during this time, to meditate and focus on dharma studies. Lao men are traditionally ordained as monks during this time. Mid-July.


Day of the Free Laos (Lao Issara). A celebration of the Issara, the freedom fighters who gained victory in Laos in the 1970s. August 13.

Haw Khao Padap Din. During this festival, respect is paid to the dead. Late August or early September.


Boun Khao Salak. At this time, Lao people make offerings to the monks. These include practical items such as books, pens, sugar, and coffee. Laypeople also give wax flower candles to the monks in order to gain merit. Mid-September.


Day of Liberation. This is the day the long war ended in Laos in 1975 and the Pathet Lao achieved victory. October 12.

Bun Ork Phansa. Buddhist Lent and the rainy season both end in this joyous holiday, and monks are liberated to perform their normal community duties. It is celebrated with boat races and carnivals. In the evening of Van Ork Phansa, a beautiful ceremony is held throughout the country in which people launch small, candlelit banana-leaf (heua fai) floats on the rivers, decorated with offerings of incense and small amounts of money to bring luck and prosperity. Mid-October.

Dragon Boat Races (Bun Song Hua). Held at different times in late summer and early fall in every riverside town, these races celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent. Teams of 50 paddle longboats in a long sprint, and winners parade through town. The Vientiane Boat Race Festival (Vientiane and Savannakhet) is held the second weekend in October. The Luang Prabang Boat Races are held in early September along the Nam Kan, with a major market day preceding the races and festivities throughout the night on race day.

That Luang Festival (Boun That Louang). This major Buddhist fete draws the faithful countrywide and from nearby Thailand to the sacred That Luang Stupa in Vientiane. Before dawn, thousands join in a ceremonial offering and group prayer, followed by a procession. For days afterward, a combined trade fair and carnival offers handicrafts, flowers, games, concerts, and dance shows. Full moon in early November.

Hmong New Year. Although this is not a national holiday, it is celebrated among this northern hill tribe. End of November/beginning of December, in the north.


Lao National Day. The entire country celebrates this public holiday, commemorating the establishment of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1975. In Vientiane, you'll find parades and dancing at That Luang temple. December 2.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.