Festivals in Lao – like Boat Racing
Once a year, the boat racing festival takes place in Luang Prabang and transforms the city into a fun fair. It just so happened that we arrived from China on that day in Laos. It was our first day and the party was full on!
People flock to the streets and crowd along the riverbanks. Everybody is keen to watch the slimmest boats I have ever seen, race along a designated length on the brown waters on the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The boats, resembling narrow, light and elongated nutshells, are packed with oarsmen.
Those rowers give everything to stir up the waters and push their team forward. What a sight!
Team red-shirt racing against team white-shirt. Doesn’t it look like the rowers are under water waist down?
End point of the race.
Boats in action! Walk the street market in between the boat races with me. The sidewalks look dirty and are full of trash but that was due to the festival. The street was spotless the next day. Overall, LP is a remarkably clean city.
And the winner is…
There was a lot of festival knick knack to buy.
And many food stands. All were rather colourful.
Rolling more snacks.
Steamed quail eggs.
Can recycling after the festival.
We were lucky to see the city in action despite all the wet and grey symptoms of Asian rainy season. If you happen to stumble upon the boat racing festival in LP… a good place to rest and take in the events is at Joma Café’s balcony – a very neat and new coffee&cake mini branch, amongst other Lao foodie places to keep you cosy and dry. We sat there for quite a while, enjoying our drinks, looking at the crowds go by!
Other Lao festivals:
✰ April – Pi Mai ✰ Try to stay dry during Water Festival which marks Buddhist New Year Celebrations. With markets, processions and ceremonies, the highlight is clearly water throwing.
✰ May – Rocket Festival ✰ Lao people gather to launch home-made rockets to celebrate the oncoming rainy season.
✰ July – Buddhist Lent ✰ Following the lunar calendar, people offer alms at temples early in the morning to mark the start of Lent. Monks begin a three months period of study and meditation.
✰ August – Boat Racing Festival ✰ The festival begins in temples as people pay their respect to ancestors, followed by a long-boat race on the Khan river in the afternoon.
✰ October – End of Lent ✰ Small boats are decorated with coloured paper and candles, carried in a torch-lit procession through town, to set them adrift on the Mekong.
✰ December – Hmong New Year ✰ The Hmong minority celebrates the new lunar year with a colourful festival with traditional music, dance and costume.