October is one of the most vibrant months in a year in Laos as it features the most colorful festivals including Bound Awk Phansa, Boat Racing festival and Luang Prabang Half Marathon. All of them attract myriad Laotians throughout the country as well as international visitors all over the world.
Boun Awk Phansa Festival
- Time: the full moon day of the 11th lunar month.
- Duration: 1 day
- Location: Throughout Laos
- Meaning: The festival is organized for Laotians to show respect to the Buddha and the mother of river for providing water, blessing, getting rid of bad luck of the past year and enabling the good luck for the following year.
Held on the last day of the Buddhist lent, the festival marks the end of the three-month rains retreat. In the morning, people make donation and offerings at temples throughout the country. Monks are at last permitted to leave the temple and are presented with robes, alms bowls and other requisites of the denunciative life. One particularly beautiful aspec during the festival is Lai Hua Fai. In the evening of Awk Phansa people gather at the nearest body of water to set dozens of small banana-leaf boats decorated with candles, incense and small flowers adrift down the rivers giving thanks to the river spirit. This colourful ritual has been carried on by Lao people for thousands of year.
Boat Racing Festival
- Time: Different dates from early October to mid-October
- Location: Rivers all around Laos
- Meaning: The festival is held to not only give prize but especially, give the fun to all racers and audiences as well.
Held during the same time with Bound Awk Phansa, Boat Racing festival is no less attractive than the other one. It is celebrated along the rivers involving boat races in traditional racing boats. In Vientiane, the Boat Racing festival is particularly huge and the town shuts down as food stalls and games and fairs take over the riverfront. Dragon are taken down from villagers’ houses onto the rivers. Teams of rowers start practising weeks or even months prior to the arrival of the boat racing season.
Luang Prabang Half Marathon Festival
- Time: October 23rd
- Location: Luang Prabang
- Meaning: The festival is held to offer significance to the charities.
Also known as the La Procession, the festival is organized by the Lao Friends Hospital for Children and all of the funds raised from the race would go directly to the hospital’s mission to generate free-of-charge medical care to Lao children. The participants are motivated to establish a fundraising site and ask their friends and family members to help sponsor their race – anyone raising more than $250 will get their entry fee waived. The rate consists of 21 kilometers, 14 kilometers and 7 kilometers distances that start from the National Museum.