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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Louisiana Lao New Year Festival

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By: Phanat Xanamane

Lanexang Village will hold the 2019 Louisiana Lao New Year Festival on April 18-21 at the Wat Thammarattanaram Buddhist temple in Coteau, La. (7913 Champa Ave.)

The celebration is one of Louisiana's most culturally unique assets that draws crowds by the thousands each year. Lanexang Village, a small rural neighborhood of Iberia Parish turns into a vibrant festival ground with a global reach.

Lao people have a 40-year history in Iberia Parish since the first among them immigrated to Acadiana as refugees from their native Laos. The first generation built an amazing Buddhist temple withholding much of their traditions and customs. The added diversity and cultural richness have been positive economic and social forces in the Southern Louisiana cultural landscape.

2019 is the Year of the Pig which brings wealth and abundance, prompting festival organizers to adopt a "Crazy Rich" theme in its festivities. The 30+ year old festival is one of the most culturally unique events in the state, combining a parade, music concerts, Buddhist rituals, folk art performances and educational tours.

Cypress Bayou Casino Hotel is one of the Platinum sponsors. General admission to the festival before 5 p.m. is free. $50 VIP all-access passes are available and include reserved parking, food, a free guided tour, access to VIP parade lounge and to the Tea-time performance banquet. VIP passes are available on Eventbrite.

Tips for navigating the festival:

  1. Admission before 5 p.m. is free and vendor booths are open at 10 a.m. each day of the festival. There are special concerts in the evenings after 6 p.m. and there are cover charges to get on grounds. 
  2. Parking is limited so the earlier you get there the better. Buy a $50 VIP All-access pass which gives you access to a reserved parking lot next to the temple. It'll be worth it. 
  3. Many food vendors are out and there's lots of food to try. My top recommendations are sticky rice and Lao lemongrass grilled chicken, Spicy Papaya salad, Lao-style Pho, Kao Piek (a porridge using chicken broth) and freshly squeezed sugarcane juice. 
  4. The main Sermon/Worship hall is open to the public. Entrance to the ordination hall will be limited and women are not allowed to enter to respect the monks. Please remove your shoes before entering buildings and keep your head lower while passing by any monks. 

Top things to know:

  1. Louisiana Lao New Year has been celebrated in Iberia Parish for over 30 years.
  2. 2019 is the Year of the Pig and the festival will coincide as always with Easter weekend (April 18-21)
  3. It's becoming bigger every year drawing crowds in the thousands to this small Lao neighborhood in Coteau.
  4. They are uniting generations of Lao to make the festival more inclusive adding exciting new cultural and educational activities.
  5. Platinum Sponsor is Cypress Bayou Casino and they are seeking more sponsors to help with making this a major festival for Louisiana.
  6. $50 VIP All access tickets include reserved parking, food, a free guided tour, access to VIP parade lounge and to the Tea-time performance banquet.

For more information, download/print the festival poster and event flyer, visit the Louisiana Lao New Year Facebook Page, contact Phanat Xanamane at 337-378-9469 or email him.  

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