Note: Boat Racing Festival is observed in Vientiane only.
Boat races are common all throughout Buddhist Lent, a full three-month period generally running from late August to the end of October. The exact dates vary each year, but most races are held on the weekend, start around noon, and end by sunset.
About mid-way through Buddhist Lent, the first major boat racing festival is held in Luang Prabang. Many others will be held later on along the Mekong River and other waterways. Then, the final race is in Ban Xieng Ngeun, just outside Vientiane. The first and last races are by far the largest and most important.
The Boat Racing Festival is also a time of other, accompanying festivities. There are bamboo rockets shot off to announce the beginning of a race, local markets that spring up and thrive, and other entertainment that goes on.
Since it’s the rainy season, the waters are high and good for boating, the farmers are not overburdened with work, and tourist season is at a low point. This set of circumstances, and the fact that people have been waiting all year for this, creates a lot of excitement about the boat racing events.