Every year in October, the Light Festival transforms the UNESCO city of Luang Prabang. Parade, lanterns and Buddhist ceremonies; this tradition is considered as the most enchanting event of the year in Laos. Called “Lai Heua Fai” in Lao, it is the occasion to show respect to the spirit of the river.
Here are some “must do” activities during this amazing and unique festival.
Enjoy a walk around the city
Few days before the official festival date, all monks around Luang Prabang start decorating their temple with hundreds of colorful candles, garlands and paper stars. Each temple and village in town also create a giant paper boat. During this period, every evening at nightfall Luang Prabang looks amazing and is lit up with lights and candles.
Find a good terrace on the main street to see the boat parade
The Light Festival’s highlight is the paper boat parade around the city. Dressed in traditional Lao costumes, Lao people proudly show the boat they built all together, village by village, temple by temple. Musicians, fire breathers and acrobats follow the huge procession to the famous temple of Vat Xieng Thong, at the end of Luang Prabang’s peninsula.
Go to Vat Xieng Thong to see villagers launching the boats on the Mekong
At around 9 pm, after the parade, everybody go to the Mekong River bank to launch their ephemeral and magnificent paper boats. Before pushing the boats on the river flow, the boat is covered with small candles and paper money notes.
Send your own flower bouquet to the river and make a wish
At every street corner, you can find banana leaves and small tree trunks put together to create a floating platform. The platforms are covered with flowers and candles. This piece of art is launched on the Mekong, with the other giant paper boats. As tradition requires, people can make a wish before releasing their boat to water. Lao people strongly believe that the boat will carry away their problems down the river.