The Asian elephant has its day, actually two, in mid-February when Laos turns its eyes to Sayabouly Province and the Elephant Festival. Launched in 2007, the annual fete draws more than 80.0000 elephant fans to the ceremonies, processions, and performances to pay tribute to the national symbol of “The Land of Million Elephants”.
Home to the country’s largest pachyderm population, Sayabouly Province is the natural choice to host this growing event that also aims to raise awareness about the need to protect the endangered Asian elephant, which has played such a vital role in Lao people’s livelihoods, culture and heritage.
After an opening ceremony, a procession of elephants enters the host village through a bamboo arch. The elephants bathe and are blessed by monks, with participants making merit in a baci ceremony, before with the election of the “Elephant of the Year”. Then the entertainment begins: pachyderm performances, musical concerts, outdoor films, dance shows, and fireworks displays in a carnival atmosphere that includes elephant rides and a “Fun Fair”. After the second day’s procession and religious ceremony, mahouts round up their massive mammals for a day of elephant entertainment and visitor education capped with the crowning of the elephant of the Year. For an even more authentic experience, visitors can book a village home-stay.