December 31/January 1: Laotians celebrate the international new yea's eve/day

January/early February (new moon): Chinese and Vietnamese minorities celebrate their new year

February (full moon): Buddhists celebrate the occasion when Buddha spoke to 1,250 monks who arrived, unbidden, at the same time. It is a time for chanting, making merit with offerings and processions around the wats

Mid-April: Celebration of the lunar new year all over Laos but especially in Luang Prabang and Vientiane, both of which have elephant processions. It is a time when the old year is washed away and the new is welcomed: homes are cleaned, people wear new clothes and Buddha images are ritually washed. Flowers and fruit are offered in temples, and the street fun includes the none-to-ritualistic dousing of others with water.

May (full moon): Celebration of Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing away with chanting, sermons and offerings in the temples

Late May/early June: The Rocket Festival, perhaps the jolliest of all the festivals with everyone intent on having fun

July: The start of the monks' traditional three-month rainy season retreat. It is also the time when boys and young men go into the Shangha for a brief spell or maybe for longer.

Late August/early September (full moon): The festival for the dead. Gifts are presented to the Sangha and the monks chant for the dead. It is a favoured time for cremations and bones are exhumed to be cremated

Late October or early November: The end of the monks' rainy season retreat. Also, the water festival when teams compete in boat races. The boats can be seen in wats by the river all year but they are done up and crewed for the highly-competitive festivities

November (full moon): The That Luang Festival in Vientiane. The festival includes mass offerings to monks, a procession from Vientiane's busiest wat, Si Muang, and a candlelit procession round That Luang , which is a symbol of Laos and fuses state and state religion

December 2: Lao National Day, commemorating the communist victory over the royalists in 1975 – the birth of the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Luang Prabang

Vang Vieng

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Getting ready for the merit making day at Wat Simuang in February. Buddhists and visitors make merit for this life and future lives by taking offerings to Buddha and the Sangha. The photograph shows a stall outside the wat selling flowers, incense, candles and other items that can be bought for merit making (see Buddha's ways in the links below for an explanation of this)