Boat racing (Boun Souang Heua) is a local festival that takes place every year all around the country during 6 weeks, from end of August and beginning of October (depending on the lunar calendar). Most Laos traditional boat racing festivals take place before the end of Buddhist lent. Dates vary from year to year, but most festivals are held on weekends.
The first one happens in Luang Prabang (at the Nam Khan River), at the exact half-time of the buddhist lent and finish the last day of the buddhist lent. They are the 2 more important of the year.
The other races take place in many villages, in the Mekong River or one of its tributary.
The last race traditionally takes place at Ban Xieng Ngeun, about thirty kilometers from Luang Prabang, on the road to Vientiane. In the morning, homemade rockets made from bamboo are launched for the better and the worst.
These two races (the first and last) are the largest in the region, and provide an opportunity for a large market involving all kinds of domestic and import. The other, more "local" are among a dozen and are held every 4 or 5 days.
The boats of fifty athletes compete on a few hundred meters and the sweltering heat, a victory involving one of the villages of Luang Prabang, the cries of encouragement to many who meet these opportunities. We are indeed in "low tourist season", and during this second part of the rainy season, agricultural tasks are not heavy, people have more time than usual.
The races generaly begin arounf miday, and finish before the sunset.