The most important Lao holiday is Songkarn, the Lao New Year, celebrated from April 13 to 15. After several months of drought, the first rains of the year begin in April, bringing the start of the agricultural year. Water is poured over Buddha images and elders as a blessing. After this is done very decorously, Songkarn turns into one big water fight, with water splashed on everyone in sight. Since the temperature is over 90°F at that time of year, the water feels good. People try to return to their home villages for Songkarn to visit friends and relatives and to join in the fun.

The Rocket Festival is a popular traditional Lao holiday, although not an official holiday. Today it is celebrated on Wisakha Bucha, the day celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. The Rocket Festival is based on a fertility rite that predates Buddhism in the area. Village men build bamboo rockets packed with gunpowder, and villages compete to see whose rocket can fly the highest. The men hold boat races on the rivers, and the village women hold folk dance contests. This holiday is based on the lunar calendar and falls sometime in May.

Independence Day on July 19 celebrates the granting of autonomy, or independence, from the French Union in 1949; National Day on December 2 celebrates the proclamation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1975, a one-party communist state.

The That Luang Festival occurs on the day of the full moon in the twelfth lunar month and celebrates the most sacred Buddhist monument in Laos.

Read more: Lao - Introduction, Location, Language, Folklore, Religion, Major holidays, Rites of passage, Relationships, Living conditions