Fireboat Festival! / by Joshua P Jacks

Last Thursday night we were able to experience the annual Fire Boat Festival here in Luang Prabang.  It was like Christmas and the 4th of July. There were lights up everywhere and fireworks going off all over the city.

Boun Hua Fai (lit. festival float boat fire/light) is celebrated during Ok Phansa at the end of the three-month rains retreat (Buddhist Lent), which usually falls on a full moon day in October. In Luang Prabang, people make lanterns & parade floats which are carried through town in a procession before being launched onto the Mekong & floated downriver towards Ban Wat That.

All the families build a boat to bless the house. And each inhabitant builds his own boat to make wishes as they launch it on the Mekong River.

It is believed these small boats will take away any bad luck and bring good luck. (Description found off internet since I didn’t desire to tell you the wrong meaning for this festival! ;)


We walked a good bit and saw many people from all over the world participating in the festivities.  The night was complete with people letting lanterns go in the air (was told for good luck and/or to make their wishes reach heaven) and watching the many lite boats floating down the river. 

The streets were full and alive!  Every place had beautiful lights and the temples had lanterns lit all over their grounds.  We managed to make it to the biggest temple right as they were starting to carry the village boats down.  We also got to witness one of the village fire boats accidentally catching on fire. 

The night ended with a very tired Noah in momma’s arms and a tuk tuk ride back to our car since it was over an hour walk back to it. 

It was great experiencing it with friends from Lao and America!  Please check out the video Josh put together of the footage he got with our video camera.  He even managed to catch the fire boat… catching on fire!( Which unfortunately for that village is considered bad luck. We only know this because later when Josh showed the footage to one of his students he recognized that it was HIS village.  L)  Hope you enjoy this adventure! Many more to come!