Who doesn’t like a good party? In Vietnam, festivals and celebrations are a way of life and they certainly know how to have a good time. Depending on when you travel to Vietnam, you may be lucky enough to catch one of these amazing festivals is full swing. Or, better yet, plan your trip so that local holidays coincide. This is a sure-fire way to have a good time in Vietnam while also witnessing some truly authentic culture. Read on to discover the top festivals in Vietnam that you shouldn’t miss:
1. Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
Referred to as “Tet” for short, it’s safe to say that this festival is the biggest of the year. It’s a little different than a western New Year, though. There’s not much in the way of wild parties as locals are more interested in spending time with their families and celebrating those who are no longer with them. The exact date for Lunar New Year varies, but it usually falls somewhere between late January and early/mid February. In 2018, the celebration was officially held on February 16th, but the days leading up to and following the date are typically public holidays, too. The days and even weeks before the New Year are spent praying in temples, feasting on big meals with family, and visiting the graves of ancestors to pay their respects. On the three days surrounding the holiday there are parades in the street and temples are packed with people praying and having their fortunes read. Homes are decorated with colorful flowers and children often receive gifts of money in red envelopes. Sport your red or yellow (the Vietnamese believe these colors bring prosperity and good fortune) and join in the festivities!
2) Hue Festival
If you needed another reason to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site and the ancient Vietnamese capital of Hue, here’s one: Hue Festival. This is a week-long celebration that happens once every two years in either April or May. This celebration only happens in Hue and events take place at over 40 venues throughout the city. The purpose of Hue Festival is to pay homage to the traditional culture of the ancient Nguyen Dynasty. This is done with an array of cultural events, games, and performances over the course of the 7-day festival. Throughout the week, visitors can see re-enactments of royal ceremonies, film screenings, and art exhibitions which showcase the city’s rich heritage. There are also other specific events happening within the festival like fashion shows and drum and percussion performances. Kite racing, calligraphy demonstrations, sporting events, traditional dance performances, and tons of tasty local food can also be expected.
3) Hoi An Lantern Festival
As if Hoi An’s Old Town wasn’t charming enough – wait until you experience a Lantern Festival! Fortunately, this event takes place on a monthly bases as it’s celebrated on the 14th day of the Lunar month. The most noteworthy aspect of the festival is all the shops, restaurants, bars, and other businesses in Old Town turn off the electricity for the night and rely on the light provided only from candles and lanterns. On this night, all temples are free to enter and the public can watch monks hold candlelit ceremonies inside. All motorized traffic is also banned during the celebration. Musicians in the street play traditional instruments, poetry readings, and lantern-making workshops are just some of the fun that can be had here. The party goes on until late so you can enjoy the festive and friendly atmosphere all night long.
4) Mid-Autumn Festival
This festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the eighth Lunar calendar month, is especially a favorite among children. The Mid-Autumn Festival (which usually takes places in mid-to-late September) calls for plenty of toys, treats, candies, and sweets, but its traditional purpose is to honor the moon and to show appreciation for the year’s successful harvest. Hoi An arguably hosts one of the best celebrations of this country-wide party. Parades and street dancing are the norm and children are encouraged to participate by carrying paper lanterns. There are also fun competitions and events children can take part in like drawing and coloring contests. Visitors should head to the Thu Bon Riverside to feast their eyes on thousands of colorful lanterns lining the water.
Festivals are an important part of Vietnamese culture and there are certainly many to celebrate. Participating in or observing one of the country’s festivals is a great way to understand more about the culture and traditional heritage of Vietnam. If you’re in Vietnam, look up upcoming local holidays to see if you’re lucky enough to experience one of this country’s many festivities!