The highlight of the year in Wat Phu Champasak is this three-day festival, held as part of Magha Puja (Makha Busa) during the full moon of the third lunar month, usually in February. The central ceremonies performed are Buddhist, culminating on the full-moon day with an early-morning parade of monks receiving alms from the faithful, followed that evening by a candlelit wéean téean (circumnambulation) of the lower shrines.
Throughout the three days of the festival Lao visitors climb around the hillside, stopping to pray and leave offerings of flowers and incense. The festival is more commercial than it once was, and for much of the time has an atmosphere somewhere between a kids' carnival and music festival. Events include kick-boxing matches, boat races, cockfights, comedy shows and plenty of music and dancing, as bands from as far away as Vientiane arrive. After dark the beer and lòw-lów (Lao whisky) flow freely and the atmosphere gets pretty rowdy.