Celebrations typically take two to three days and include music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians, and culminate on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets.
Large bamboo rockets are built and decorated by monks and villagers and carried in procession before being blasted skywards to let the God of rain, Phaya Thaen, know it is time to send the rains. The higher a rocket goes, the bigger the praise for its builder. Designers of failed rockets are thrown in the mud or a pond.
Many villages get together in an outlying area to fire these huge rockets into the sky, while those on the ground celebrate by drinking, singing and dancing. It is a big fun day out for all, although it can get a bit raucous and unruly at times.
Recalling the fertility rite origins of the rocket festival, parade ornaments and floats often sport phallic symbols and imagery. Festivities also include cross-dressing, and great quantities of alcohol, with the high alcohol content Lao rice whiskey, Lao lao or Lao khao, being a favorite.
The same festivals can be seen anywhere else all over Laos, even in small villages, around the middle of May, beginning of rainy season. Festival dates and places are determined by villagers depending on circumstances of each village. We recommend you to arrange your trip in advance by getting information from local people or travel agencies. Villagers welcome you to join the festival.