Iinitiated in 2006 by an NGO working for years with the elephants, this annual meeting became one of the big festivals of Laos, followed by thousands of Laotians who move to attend a number of exercises, parades, and elections of the most emblematic animal of Laos. Fifty elephants are walking around for 3 days in the streets of the small provincial town. A large market takes place for the occasion with all kind of local (or Thai) products.
Below, taken from the Website of Elephant Asia:
As a living icon with important symbolic connotations and historical associations in Laos, the elephant is an animal dear to the hearts of the Lao people. Unfortunately, it is no exaggeration to say that the elephant, one of the defining components of Asian heritage, is today under threat.
Due to loss of its forest habitat, the Asian elephant is endangered in the wild. Because economic and technological change has limited the number of elephants needed in traditional occupations, the continued well-being of the region’s large number of domesticated elephants is also of concern, as is the future of mahouts and their families.
In response to these concerns, the Elephant Festival has been organised to raise awareness of the need for action to protect the Asian elephant as part of the vital cultural and natural heritage of Laos and the countries of the region. Sayaboury Province welcomes you back to pay tribute to its elephants and enjoy great cultural activities and entertainment.
Sayaboury Province has always been famous for elephants. The expert training and handling capabilities of local mahouts have made Sayaboury the focal point of Lao elephant-lore. In sayaboury, elephants are sacred.
They have been man’s best friend since time immemorial. Traditionally used for work in the forest, these magnificent animals are now looking forward to meeting you at this 6th elephant festival, giving you the chance to discover the riches and marvels
of the cultural and natural world surrounding them. Who could pretend to have visited Laos, the “Land of a Million Elephants”, without meeting one of these superb animals? So, come and meet the elephants and their masters at the Elephant Festival…where past and present meet…
Since 2012, the festival will be hosted in Sayabouri, and will not be managed by Elephant Asia as it was before.
- in 2017: festival on the 13 to 19 Feb (official opening ceremony on the 17 February)
- in 2016: festival on the 19 to 21 February
- in 2015: festival on the 13 to 15 February
- in 2014: festival on the 17 to 19 February
- in 2013: festival on the 17 to 19 February