Annual elephant festival ready to start
Xayaboury province: The organising committee of the Xayaboury Elephant Festival has confirmed that the event is ready to start on time.
The official opening ceremony of the festival is marked today in the morning, with various activities to follow.
Yesterday morning there was also an almsgiving ceremony for nine monks to mark the traditional celebration for the elephant festival, which was attended by provincial governor, Mr Phongsavanh Sitthavong, a large number of officials and members of the public.
This year, there are 68 elephants featuring in the event. Alongside other activities, the visitors can take a ride on an elephant, watch them being bathed in the river, witness them demonstrate their skills and the close relationship they have with their mahouts, and a vibrant street market featuring local products and goods from neighbouring countries.
The organising committee is confident that this year the facilities will provide convenience for visitors.
The organising committee invites everyone to take part in the event and enjoy all the activities as well as the colourful culture and local livelihoods.
Today various activities will take place, featuring a grand parade, a Baci ceremony for the elephants, the elephant demonstration and performance, a decorative and smart elephant contest, elephant bathing, arts and culture, and other activities.
The event is being organised by Xayaboury provincial authorities. This year is the 11th year since the festival's inauguration.
The festival will run from February 13 to February 19, with the major activities set to take place at Xayaboury central stadium.
According to the organising committee, this is the biggest provincial festival for promoting elephant protection and preservation, tourism as well as local culture and products.
The event also aims to preserve and promote the culture and livelihoods of Lao people especially in Xayaboury who work with elephants. Elephants are a longstanding part of the nation's history and have been an integral part of Lao life since ancient times.
The festival seeks to highlight the past and present role that elephants play in Laos, and their importance in Lao history and lifestyle.
It also notes the plight of these endangered animals, whose numbers are dwindling fast.
This year the event is hoped to attract more than 300,000 visitors.
The first elephant festival was held in 2007 in Hongsa district, when it was organised by the conservation group ElephantAsia.
It was subsequently held in Paklai district and then in Xayaboury district, which has hosted the event since 2012.
After that the event has been recognised as a provincial event for promoting the local culture and provincial authorities plan many activities to celebrate the festival every year.
(Latest Update February 18, 2017)