That Luang Festival Returns to its Pre-Pandemic Glory This Year

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An aerial shot of the That Luang stupa captured during the festival. Photo Credit: Phoonsab Thevongsa

That Luang festival returned to its pre-pandemic splendor this year, resulting in thousands of people from across the country and abroad flocking in to experience the festivities.

The That Luang Festival had been scaled back over the last two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, witnessing mostly religious traditions without the carnival atmosphere. But 2022 saw many more devotees visiting the That Luang esplanade to attend the alms-giving ceremony and pay homage to the stupa, according to a report in Vientiane Times. Lao President, Mr. Thonloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister, Mr. Phankham Viphavanh, and other leaders from the government, also took part in the religious ceremonies.

The venue also hosted a trade fair that featured 1,351 booths from local businesses as well as from China, Thailand, and Vietnam who were invited by Lao authorities. The trade fair exhibited both local and tourism products, alongside promotions of the railway, expressway, logistics parks, and goods produced under the “One District, One Product” scheme.

Various types of food, beverages, and consumer products were also available for sale in some 800 booths. Despite limited budgets for some shoppers, they indulged in having a good time at the fair.

The festival also featured interesting activities such as Lao-style hockey, a colorful candlelight procession, traditional dance, and magic performances, all of which received a loud round of applause from the thousands gathered.

Although Laos has just reported its highest inflation rate this year in October at 36.75 percent, numerous people were still seen eagerly buying a wide range of goods from the trade fair during 4-8 November.

The That Luang stupa, built during the 3rd century, remains one of the most famous and oldest landmarks in Laos and also a major tourist attraction. Most locals also believe that the stupa contains the relics of Buddha.