On the lunar full moon, the townsfolk will celebrate Hoi An's bygone days, reenacting cultural activities and honouring ancestors with offerings to shrines and burning incense. The old quarter is pedestrianized (no bicycles or motorized vehicles until 10pm) and fluorescent lights are banned, adding to the old-world charm.)

This is a truly special night where you can wander the old town while it is lit up with lanterns and watch traditional performances, hear musical renditions, poetry recitals or watch as some of the older townsmen play a game of traditional Chinese chess.

What is Hoi An Lantern Festival?

The Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly event that celebrates the full moon. It is held on the 14th day of each lunar month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest.

The full moon is one of the most sacred times in the Buddhist calendar. It is said that Buddha was not only born on a full moon but attained enlightenment on a full moon. And so for centuries Buddhists have viewed the full moon as an auspicious time of transformation.

Even today people all over Asia view the full moon as a time to meditate, observe rituals, reflect on life, and worship their ancestors. This is done in many ways from offerings made at family shrines to the burning of incense and the lighting of candles. In recent years these traditions have morphed into the popular Hoi An Lantern Festival.

Lanterns are the focus of this event. Lanterns are beautifully lit, and candles are placed at the bottom of the colorful paper lanterns which convey our wish for health and peace. They are placed to Hoai River as an offering to the God as well as our ancestors. Along the riverbank, there are folk performances with music (bamboo flutes, drums, and fiddles) and poetry readings.

The festivities start at dusk and finish at around 8-9pm. The fun concentrates on Japanese Covered Bridge and Cau An Hoi Bridge. Electricity use is kept at a minimum level so that the lanterns can illuminate Hoi An and create the most romantic scene ever. Hoi An Lantern Festival is the ideal time for your family trip to Vietnam since there will be a lot of exciting activities here.

What are the origins of the Hoi An Lantern Festival?

Vietnam has a strong tradition of Buddhism and so the full moon has always been considered a significant time in the lunar month. In Hoi An, the particular tradition of lanterns developed during the 16th and 17th centuries when the port city was an important trading post.

Hoi An bustled with merchants from around the world, including the Japanese who brought with them various shaped lanterns that they would hang in front of their homes. The locals began to imitate this in similar hopes of bringing good luck to their households.

Since those times, Hoi An has maintained its diverse cultural influences and is today widely associated with lanterns. It is thought that in 1998 the local authorities decided to combine lanterns with the monthly full moon celebrations and since then both Vietnamese and international travelers have flocked to Hoi An each month to participate in the celebrations.

Best time to attend Hoi An Lantern Festival

February to August is the preferred time to visit the Hoi An Lantern Festival, and more so recommended is during February. As February is the first full moon of the lunar new year, the Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrations biggest and more exclusive during this time.

How is the Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrated?

As the name suggests, the biggest feature of this festival is the lanterns. Cute, multi-colored lanterns are lit with candles and placed on the Thu Bon river with a wish for happiness, luck, and love. 

Lantern festival is the time for LOVE

At 8pm all fluorescent lights are turned off so that the floating lanterns are all that illuminate Hoi An, creating a magical glow. The ban on vehicles and bicycles in Hoi An's old quarter means you can wander around and soak up the atmosphere without fear of walking into the path of a motorist.

There are usually performances held along the river with music (bamboo flutes, drums, and fiddles) and poetry readings. Locals will play board games outside their homes while others gather for Bai Choi - a musical version of bingo. 

Street food stalls pop up all along the river selling delicious vegetarian food alongside classic pork dishes. It's a great time to try tasty moon cakes (pastries filled with sweet red bean paste) and shop at the busy night markets. By 10pm the celebrations wind down.

In conjunction with the lantern festival, the full moon is a time to honor deceased relatives and ancestors. Local families will also visit shrines and present offerings of flowers, food, and candles as well as fake money bills in exchange for prosperity.

It is also time to pray for the ancestors

Where is the Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrated?

The Full Moon festival is celebrated across Vietnam but the UNESCO-listed town of Hoi An has become the most popular destination for travellers to enjoy the monthly festivities thanks to the dedicated lantern festival.

The best place to witness the action in Hoi An is the area between the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Cau An Hoi Bridge. Here you will be able to see lanterns released onto the river with water that beautifully reflects the hanging lights of surrounding buildings.

Things to do at Hoi An Lantern Festival

Relish a serene sampan ride

Releasing lantern on Hoai River is believed to bring fortune and love. If you want to place your own lantern on the water’s surface, the best way to do it is taking a sampan ride. Your lanterns will not be caught by a traffic jam and you can authentically enjoy Hoi An’s atmosphere on a sampan ride.

A sampan is a Vietnamese traditional canoe. Take your time to talk to local friendly ferrymen who will provide you with more knowledge about this ancient town.

Relish a serene sampan ride

Watch traditional Bai Choi performance

Bai Choi is an interesting folk game of Central Vietnam which combines music, poetry, acting, painting and literature. Originated among peasants in Quang region, Bai Choi has a complex set of rules which involves card drawing and folk singing. Bai Choi songs are about daily life and work, which represent our patriotism and connectivity of the community. This game brings a lively and sparkling atmosphere to Hoi An Lantern Festival.

Watching Bai Choi Performance

Enjoy delicious street foods

Cao Lau is the must-try food in this dreamy city. This food is influenced by Japanese and Chinese cultures that were brought by foreign traders when they settled in Hoi An. You will see some unique feature in this dish compared to other food in Vietnam: the thick noodle is the same as Japanese udon, the rice crackers and porks are in Chinese style, and the broth is Vietnamese.

There are plenty of delicious cuisines at street food stalls here, for example, banh bao (steamed rice dumplings with pork and mushrooms), banh vac (steamed rice dumplings with ground shrimp and veggies), banh dap (rice crackers with steamed rice pancakes and anchovy sauce), banh xoai (mango cake) and xi ma (black sesame pudding).

Enjoying street food

Take photos of stunning lantern view

Besides the miraculous water filled with lanterns, there are many places for your photo shoot here, such as Japanese Covered Bridge, Fujian Assembly Hall (Phuc Kien), Cantonese Assembly Hall (Quang Trieu), and Old House of Tan Ky. These places look even more fantastic under the illuminating space of colorful lanterns.

Make sure you have the best shot

Visiting a temple

A full moon is a time for the locals to honor their ancestors by offering fruits, flowers and incense to them. Temples and pagodas in Hoi An are strongly influenced by the Chinese. A single ticket which costs VND 120,000 will allow you to visit all houses, temples, and museums here. In Hoi An Lantern Festival, you will see the local tourists gather at Quan Cong Pagodas or other assembly halls to Hoi An to wish for luck and happiness.

What to Eat at Hoi An Lantern Festival?

Street Food

Plenty of street food stalls comprising of Japanese and Chinese influenced cuisine, and other international foods are set up for the Hoi An Lantern Festival.


Cao Lau - A delicious blend of Japanese (thick noodle or udon), Chinese (rice crackers and porks) and Vietnamese (broth) cultures. 


  1. Banh Bao - Steamed rice dumplings with mushrooms and pork
  2. Banh Dap - Steamed rice pancakes, rice crackers and anchovy sauce
  3. Banh Xoai - Mango cake
  4. Xi Ma - Pudding made out of black sesame

When is Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrated?

This traditional festival is held one night every month and it is always on the 14th day on the lunar calendar for that month.  You may also hear the Hoi An Lantern Festival called by another name or two, and they are the Legendary Night and the Full Moon Party.

To help you plan your visit around the festival, below is the calendar of Hoi An Lantern Festival until the end of 2024. That said, the biggest celebration is always on February.

2022 Hoi An Lantern Festival dates

Month Hoi An Lantern Festival Dates
January January 16th, 2022
February February 14th, 2022
March March 16th, 2022
April April 14th, 2022
May May 14th, 2022
June June 12th, 2022
July July 12th, 2022
August August 11, 2022
September September 9th, 2022
October October 9th, 2022
November November 7th, 2022
December December 7th, 2022

2023 Hoi An Lantern Festival dates

Month Hoi An Lantern Festival Dates
January January 5th, 2023
February February 4th, 2023
March March 5th, 2023
April April 4th, 2023
May May 3rd, 2023
June June 1st, 2023
July July 1st and 31st, 2023
August August 29th, 2023
September September 28th, 2023
October October 28th, 2023
November November 26th, 2023
December December 26th, 2023

2024 Hoi An Lantern Festival dates

Month Hoi An Lantern Festival Dates
January January 24th, 2024
February February 23rd, 2024
March March 23rd, 2024
April April 22nd, 2024
May May 21st, 2024
June June 19th, 2024
July July 19th, 2024
August August 17th, 2024
September September 16th, 2024
October October 16th, 2024
November November 14th, 2024
December December 14th, 2024

Useful Tips

To make the most of your Hoi An Lantern Festival experience, follow these tips:

  • Use a wrist strap on your camera and attach your phone to a lanyard - you don't want your expensive items accidentally knocked out of your hand as you're taking photographs close to the river
  • That said, visit in February for the Hoi An Lantern Festival at its most brilliant - the first full moon of the lunar new year is the biggest celebration of them all
  • Buy handmade lanterns locally for a cost of around 50 cents - the vendor will usually lend you a long pole to lower the lantern onto the water

  • Expect crowds and arrive early to get a good spot - it's a popular event with locals and tourists so Hoi An's river banks fill up with people quickly hoping to secure a good view of the candle-lit water
  • If you want to escape the crowds, take a sampan ride on the river - you can watch the festivities away from the masses and more easily place your own lantern on the water's surface (expect to pay around USD $5)
  • Wear sturdy shoes - there's a good chance you'll have your feet trodden on as you navigate the busy streets


Other articles about the topic of Asian Lantern Festivals:

Other article about the topic of Vietnam Festivals & Events

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My name is Jolie, I am a Vietnamese girl growing up in the countryside of Hai Duong, northern Vietnam. Since a little girl, I was always dreaming of exploring the far-away lands, the unseen beauty spots of the world. My dream has been growing bigger and bigger day after day, and I do not miss a chance to make it real. After graduating from the univesity of language in Hanoi, I started the exploration with a travel agency and learning more about travel, especially responsible travel. I love experiencing the different cultures of the different lands and sharing my dream with the whole world. Hope that you love it too!


Hue Festival is a biennial celebration that takes place in Hue City. Here you can enjoy an array of cultural events, games, and performances held over the course of a week. Founded in 2000, the festival is held to preserve the traditional customs that have been practiced since the Nguyen Dynasty.


The Hmong New Year celebration is a cultural tradition that takes place annually in select areas where large Hmong communities exist and in a modified form where smaller communities come together. During the New Year's celebration, Hmong dress in traditional clothing and enjoy Hmong traditional foods, dance, music, bull fights, and other forms of entertainment. Hmong New Year celebrations have Hmong ethnic traditions and culture and may also serve to educate those who have an interest in Hmong tradition. Hmong New Year celebrations frequently occur in November and December (traditionally at the end of the harvest season when all work is done), serving as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.


Lantern Festival is celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar (usually falls around mid-February of Gregorian calendar). The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. 

Originally, the holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. In some other Asian countries such as Thailand or Laos, the festival is celebrated around late October or early November to mark the end of the Buddhist Lent & the beginning of the festive season.

During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. 


One of the best ways to make sure that your trip to Vietnam is an unforgettable one is to plan it around the time of the festivals celebrated in the country. Inspired by the Chinese Lunar calendar, most of the cultural events and festivals in Vietnam are celebrated during specific times of the year. These festivals will not only let you witness and absorb the culture of the country but also give you a soul-touching experience. So, the next time you visit Vietnam keep these festivals in mind to turn your holiday into extraordinary!


When many Americans hear the word "Tet," they immediately recall learning about the 1968 Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. But what is Tet all about?

Considered the first day of spring and most important of national holidays in Vietnam, Tet is the annual Vietnamese New Year celebration, coinciding with the Lunar New Year celebrated throughout the world in January or February.

Technically, "Tet" is a shortened (thank goodness!) form of Tết Nguyên Đán, a way to say "Lunar New Year" in Vietnamese.

Although Tet can be a very exciting time to travel in Vietnam, it's also the busiest time of the year to be there. Millions of people will be moving throughout the country, returning to their home villages to share reunions with friends and family. The Tet holiday will certainly affect your experience in Vietnam.


Tired of reading? Listen to our below Podcast made by our BEEPODS team to learn more about the biggest and most important festival in Vietnam


New Year’s is not always fireworks and kisses. In Asia, it’s a time to ward off bad luck, celebrate good fortune, and commemorate family.

And since most of these countries follow the lunar or solar calendar, their festivities take place in February, March, or April, instead of on January 1st. Some cultures usher in the New Year with water gun fights, while others chase off evil spirits with demonic effigies.

Intrigued? We’ve got you covered. See how these 12 Asian countries ring in the New Year.


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