A wondrous amalgam of breathtaking natural beauty, amazing skyscrapers and kaleidoscopic cultures is the country of Vietnam. The rich history and various artistic manifestations of this nation are best reflected in its festivals, and if one of these seems to be underway during your trip, consider yourself lucky!
Here is a quick look at the 10 major Festivals of Vietnam, celebrated throughout the year.
1. Traditional Vietnamese New Year (Tết Nguyên Đán)
Lunar New Year, locally called Tet, is the biggest festival of the year with the whole country downing tools for family get-togethers. Principally a religious celebration, don’t expect too much of a wild party, but it’s still a fascinating time to visit Vietnam and you’ll certainly find locals lighting fireworks, visiting temples with their families, and the interesting sight of many flower stalls set up as giving flowers is customary during Tet.
Here is everything about Tet - Vietnamese new year
2. Lim Festival
Lim Festival is where you can enjoy UNESCO-listed Quan Ho folk singing performances and a wide range of traditional games during your visit. Held on the 12th and 13th day of the first lunar month, several stages are built within the village where you get to see locals performing in traditional costumes. We highly recommend heading over to the lake outside the Lim Communal House to catch Quan Ho singing performance on a dragon boat. Lim Festival also hosts folk games such as danh du (bamboo swings), cockfighting, tug-of-war, wrestling, human chess, and blind man’s bluff.
3. First Full Moon Festival (Tết Nguyên Tiêu)
This festival originates from China but over time, it became an important aspect in Vietnamese’s cultural and religious life. The story behind this was that long time ago, a hunter on earth killed a swan from heaven. To revenge that, the Heaven God planned out a rain of fire on the first full moon night to destroy mankind. However, there were some gods do not agree with this action and told human to burn big fires, light up lanterns and pray on that day, so that the Heaven God was thought that mankind was burned by the fire rain.
Traditionally on this day, locals go to pagodas to pray for good things for their family members and their beloved.
4. Perfume Pagoda Festival
Perfume Festival draws throngs of local pilgrims from all over Vietnam to Hanoi’s iconic Perfume Pagoda, where they to pray for a prosperous year and pay their respects to Buddha. The pilgrimage starts with a dragon dance at Den Trinh Pagoda on the 15th day of the 1st Lunar, where pilgrims (and even travellers) travel by boat along the Yen River to the base of Huong Mountain, passing by limestone caves and rice fields. The journey continues on foot by climbing hundreds of stone steps towards Huong Tich Cave, offering a colourful display of food offerings, statues of deities, lit incenses, and praying locals.
5. Hung King Temple Festival
Hung King Temple Festival is held in commemoration of Kinh Duong Vuong, who became Vietnam’s first king in 2879BC. While the main worship event takes place at the Hung Temple, which is perched atop Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho Province, 100 lanterns are released into the sky on the eve of the festival. The next morning, a flower ceremony is held at Den Thuong (Upper Temple), where the Hung Kings used to worship deities during their reign. Lastly, a huge procession starts at the foot of the mountain, consisting of pilgrims, Xoan classical song performances, and ca tru classical operas at several temples along the way towards the main Hung Temple.
6. Hue Festival
Hue Festival is a biannual celebration that takes place in UNESCO-listed Hue City, where you can enjoy an array of cultural events, games, and performances held over a week. Founded in 2000, the festival was held to preserve traditional customs that were practiced during the Nguyen Dynasty. If you’re visiting Hue in April, May or June, expect unique showcases such as the Hue Poetry Festival, Dialogue of Drums and Percussions, and Ao Dai Fashion Shows, sporting activities like kite flying, boat racing, and human chess, as well as street performances, film screenings and art exhibitions.
Here is everything about Hue Festival
7. Wandering Souls Day (Lễ Vu Lan)
The annual Wandering Souls Day takes place on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month, which locals believe is the day when spirits of their ancestors are able to visit their homes. On the eve of the festival, families flock to Buddhist temples and graves of their departed loved ones to offer prayers, flowers, sticky rice cakes, sugarcane, and fruits. Paper money and clothes are also burned during this time of the year.
8. Mid-Autumn Festival / Full Moon Festival
Mid-Autumn Festival, held on the 14th and 15th day of the 8th lunar month, features a wide range of activities such as children carrying paper lanterns, lion dances, and food booths selling mooncakes, sticky rice, fruits, and various sweets. Also known as the harvest festival, households set up an altar during the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, on which they display offerings in honour of the full moon.
Here is everything about Vietnamese fullmoon festival
9. Hoi An Lantern Festival
Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly event that transforms the quaint UNESCO World Heritage Site into a spectacular display of paper lanterns. On the 14th day of each lunar month, every shop, restaurant, bar and businesses in the Ancient Town switches off all electricity and relies on hundreds of candles and lanterns. Meanwhile, entrance to all temples is free of charge, where you can see monks and locals holding candlelit ceremonies.
Here is everything about Hoi An Lantern Festival
10. Phu Giay Festival
Phu Giay Festival draws in worshippers of the goddess Lieu Hanh to Phu Giay Pagoda, where they pray for good fortune whilst carrying decorated bamboo relics and wearing traditional costumes. Located 88km east of Hanoi, the temple also hosts various games such as capture-the-flag, human chess, lion dancing, and wrestling, resulting in a vibrant atmosphere throughout the day. Visitors can also enjoy folk dance and classical songs such as Trong Quan, Cheo (satirical musical theatre) and Ca Tru (chamber music).
Here are more Vietnam festivals