With officials announcing Pi Mai Lao (Lao New Year) extended to five days this year, people nationwide are eagerly anticipating the festival to begin next week.
In preparation for the widely celebrated holiday, Vientiane has assembled a variety of fun activities for locals and visitors to enjoy and partake in, including a Miss Vientiane contest on April 8, an arts show, a sandcastle building contest, and sports competitions on the sandy shores along the Mekong.
However, due to lack of preparation for the equipment needed by relevant authorities, Pi Mai Lao will be excluding the most iconic parade this year in Vientiane, Miss Lao New Year (Nang Sangkhan), as stated by Chanthabouly district Governor, Ms Bualon Vongdalasaen.
Instead, the highlight will be a parade of Buddha statues that will give bystanders the chance to pour water over the sacred relics.
Traditionally, Lao households celebrate the new year by blessing their homes and family members with a Baci ceremony to bring good luck, prosperity and good health for the upcoming year.
A Baci ceremony is considered a bedrock for tradition to Lao people, and is an essential part of any housewarming party, New Year festivities, wedding day, baby shower and farewell gatherings, amongst a plethora of other celebrations.
With Luang Prabang being the favored town for visitors during Pi Mai Lao, the quaint little city will be going all out, with a festival on April 10, a Miss Lao New Year contest (Nang Sangkhan) on April 11-12, a Miss Lao New Year parade on April 15, and additional activities planned for April 19.
All other provinces across Laos are also busy preparing for the holiday by planning events that they anticipate will be entertaining to visitors, including the tourist hotspot of Vang Vieng where visitors will be met with a traditional dancing and singing contest on April 13.
Authorities nationwide have assigned a special task force to ensure the safety of visitors during the festival, while business owners in every province are preparing hotels, guesthouses, resorts and restaurants to welcome the influx of people who are anticipated to visit during the long holiday and generating a healthy income for locals.