Archives for : Night Life

Fire Boat Festival, Luang Prabang

We loved the Fire Boat Festival.

Fire Eater at the foot of Mnt Phousi

Fire Eater at the foot of Mnt Phousi

This is when many of the villages in and around Luang Prabang make large illuminated boats which they parade through the old town to Wat Xieng Tong.

We were introduced to the people at Ban Na Luang who were building their boat on a large verandah on the edge of their Wat overlooking the street.

Their boat was the size of a large canoe – about six or eight metres long. We filmed them as they fashioned the boat from bamboo, timber and cardboard and attached decorations made from banana stems, flowers and moulded wax.

They fed us green mango salad with lots of chilli and invited us back to the pre-launch party.

Lao-style Line Dancing

Lao-style Line Dancing

So we arrived with a case of warm beer and our Loa friend Mr Bee to translate. The Laos do know how to enjoy themselves! Although, nobody seems to worry about industrial deafness – the music is SO LOUD.
If you want to mix with the locals, you need to get used to drinking your beer over ice and eating lots of chilli.

Floral Offering for sale

Floral Offering for sale

On the day of the parade, the boats are loaded up onto trailers and pushed into town.

They gather at a large intersection just to the south of the old town and wait for dark.

On the days leading up to the parade, the temples are decorated with lanterns and lights and boats are built outside some of the businesses and the large hotels.

On the road above the Mekong, stalls sell floral offerings which people buy to light up and send out onto the black Mekong.

School Children, faces lit by lantern

School Children, faces lit by lantern

As night falls, the people light up the many oil lamps that illuminate the boats and head off down the main road, passed the official party at the foot of Mount Phousi and on to Wat Xieng Thong.

Between the boats are entertainers, like fire eaters, and groups of school children dressed in their best carry lanterns as they walk along with the boats.

At Wat Xieng Thong, the boats are blessed and then carried down the steep wide stair that leads to the Mekong.

Gaint Fish, Light Festival, Luang Prabang, Laos

The Fish is lowered into the Mekong

Here, they are gently lowered onto the water and towed out into the main current to be let go.

Hundreds of people line the stairs and the banks of the river, some just watching, some letting of fireworks, some sending hot air balloons off into the dark sky.


The mood is happy but respectful. This is a family affair and very charming.