Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse culture, reflected in its many traditional festivals that take place throughout the year. These festivals are not only occasions for fun and entertainment, but also for expressing gratitude, honoring ancestors, celebrating seasons, and preserving heritage.
If you are planning to visit Vietnam, you should not miss the opportunity to experience some of these festivals and learn more about the history, beliefs, and customs of the Vietnamese people.
In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most popular and unique traditional festivals in Vietnam, with dates, places, and activities that you can enjoy.
Table of Contents
- 1 Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
- 2 Lim Festival
- 3 Perfume Pagoda Festival
- 4 Hung King Temple Festival
- 5 Hue Festival
- 6 Mid-Autumn Festival
- 7 Hoi An Lantern Festival
- 8 Kate Festival
- 9 Buddha’s Birthday (Vesak)
- 10 Giong Festival
- 11 Other Vietnam traditional festivals
- 11.1 Vu Lan Festival
- 11.2 Long Tong Festival
- 11.3 Muong village praying festival
- 11.4 Yen Tu Festival – Quang Ninh
- 11.5 Dong Da mound festival – Hanoi
- 11.6 Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival – Ninh Binh
- 11.7 Tran Temple Festival – Nam Dinh
- 11.8 Keo Pagoda Festival – Thai Binh
- 11.9 New rice festival – Central Highlands
- 11.10 Elephants racing Festival – Dak Lak Province
- 11.11 Ba Chua Xu Festival – An Giang
- 11.12 Ok Om Bok Festival – Tra Vinh
- 12 Conclusion
Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan)
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year, or Tet, is the most important and celebrated festival in Vietnam. It usually falls in late January or early February, depending on the lunar calendar, and lasts for about a week.
Tet is a time for family reunions, ancestral worship, house cleaning, and festive decorations. People also exchange gifts, greetings, and lucky money, and enjoy various traditional foods, such as banh chung (sticky rice cake), mut (candied fruits), and thit kho (braised pork).
Tet is also a great opportunity for travelers to witness the vibrant and colorful aspects of Vietnamese culture, such as the flower markets, the fireworks, the lion dances, and the calligraphy.
However, be aware that some services and attractions may be closed or limited during this period, so plan your trip accordingly.
Also, be respectful of the customs and beliefs of the locals, and avoid wearing black or white, which are considered unlucky colors.
The Lim Festival is a celebration of quan ho, a traditional form of folk singing that originated in the Red River Delta.
The festival is held on the 13th day of the first lunar month, which is usually in February, in Bac Ninh province, about an hour’s drive from Hanoi. The festival features various activities, such as boat races, wrestling matches, bamboo swings, and human chess, but the main attraction is the quan ho singing.
Quan ho singers, dressed in colorful costumes, sing in pairs or groups, exchanging verses of love and friendship. The singing is accompanied by musical instruments, such as drums, flutes, and castanets.
The Lim Festival is a great chance to enjoy the beauty and harmony of quan ho, which is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity. You can also learn more about the history and legends of quan ho, and interact with the friendly and hospitable locals.
Perfume Pagoda Festival
The Perfume Pagoda Festival is a religious festival that attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists every year. It is held from the 6th day of the first lunar month to the end of the third lunar month, which is usually from February to April, at the Perfume Pagoda complex, about 60 km from Hanoi.
The complex consists of dozens of temples and shrines, built on a limestone mountain range, and surrounded by scenic landscapes. The most sacred and famous temple is the Huong Tich Cave, where people pray for health, happiness, and prosperity.
The Perfume Pagoda Festival is a spiritual journey that involves a boat ride along the Yen Stream, a hike or cable car ride up the mountain, and a visit to the temples and caves.
You can also enjoy the natural beauty of the area, such as the flowers, the waterfalls, and the rock formations. However, be prepared for the crowds, the noise, and the vendors, and dress modestly and respectfully.
Hung King Temple Festival
The Hung King Temple Festival is a national festival that commemorates the Hung Kings, the legendary founders of the first Vietnamese state. It is held on the 10th day of the third lunar month, which is usually in April, at the Hung Temple, located on Nghia Linh Mountain, in Phu Tho province, about 85 km from Hanoi.
The festival involves various ceremonies, such as incense offering, procession, and worship, as well as cultural and sporting activities, such as music, dance, chess, kite flying, and rice cooking.
The Hung King Temple Festival is a patriotic and historical event that reflects the origin and identity of the Vietnamese people. It is also a festive and lively occasion that showcases the local culture and traditions.
You can join the crowds of pilgrims and visitors, and enjoy the atmosphere and the scenery of the mountain.
The Hue Festival is a biennial festival that celebrates the cultural heritage and diversity of Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. It is held in April, May, or June, depending on the year, and lasts for about a week.
The festival features various performances and exhibitions, such as royal court music, folk songs, puppet shows, martial arts, poetry, painting, and handicrafts. Hue festival also includes some special events, such as the ao dai fashion show, the international food festival, the Hue marathon, and the Hue by night program.
The Hue Festival is a splendid and spectacular event that showcases the history and culture of Hue, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. You can also explore the attractions of Hue, such as the Citadel, the tombs, the pagodas, and the Perfume River.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Tet Trung Thu, is a harvest festival that is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which is usually in September or October.
It is also known as the Children’s Festival, as it is a time for children to enjoy various activities, such as lantern making, mooncake eating, lion dancing, and star gazing.
The festival is also associated with some legends and stories, such as the tale of Cuoi, who hung on a banyan tree and flew to the moon, and the story of the Moon Lady, who escaped from her cruel husband and became a goddess.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is a fun and festive event that brings joy and happiness to children and adults alike. You can join the celebrations by making or buying lanterns, eating mooncakes, watching lion dances, and admiring the full moon.
Hoi An Lantern Festival
The Hoi An Lantern Festival is a monthly festival that takes place on the 14th day of every lunar month, which is also known as the full moon night.
It is held in Hoi An, a charming and ancient town in central Vietnam, which is famous for its lanterns and tailor shops.
The festival involves turning off the electric lights and lighting up thousands of colorful lanterns, which create a magical and romantic atmosphere.
People also release paper lanterns on the Thu Bon River, which symbolize their wishes and prayers.
The Hoi An Lantern Festival is a beautiful and enchanting event that showcases the culture and charm of Hoi An, which is also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
You can also enjoy the other attractions of Hoi An, such as the Japanese Bridge, the Old House, the Assembly Hall, and the Night Market.
The Kate Festival is a traditional festival of the Cham people, an ethnic minority group in Vietnam. The festival is held on the first day of the seventh lunar month, which usually falls in September or October, at the Po Nagar Tower, a Hindu temple complex in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province.
The festival is a religious ceremony that honors the goddess Po Nagar, the creator and protector of the Cham people. The festival involves various rituals, such as bathing the statues of the goddess, offering sacrifices, and praying for blessings.
Kate festival also showcases the culture and art of the Cham people, such as music, dance, costumes, and handicrafts. The festival is a unique and fascinating event that reveals the diversity and richness of the Vietnamese culture.
Buddha’s Birthday (Vesak)
Buddha’s Birthday, or Vesak, is the most important festival for the Buddhist community in Vietnam. It celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is held on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, which usually falls in May.
On this day, Buddhists visit pagodas and temples, where they offer flowers, fruits, and incense, listen to sermons, chant sutras, and perform charitable deeds. The pagodas and temples are decorated with colorful lanterns, flags, and banners, creating a festive and solemn mood.
One of the highlights of the festival is the bathing of the Buddha statue, a ritual that symbolizes the purification of the mind and body. The festival also features various cultural and artistic activities, such as music, dance, drama, and exhibitions.
Buddha’s Birthday is a meaningful and joyful occasion that expresses the values and teachings of Buddhism.
The Giong Festival is a traditional festival that honors Saint Giong, one of the four immortals in Vietnamese mythology. Saint Giong was a miraculous hero who grew up rapidly and fought against foreign invaders to protect the country. He ascended to heaven on his iron horse, leaving behind his footprints, weapons, and hat.
The festival is celebrated in two main locations: Phu Dong Temple and Soc Temple, both in Hanoi. The time of the festival varies depending on the lunar calendar, but generally, it is held on the following dates:
- At Phu Dong Temple, the festival starts on the 8th and ends on the 9th day of the 4th lunar month. This is the birthplace of Saint Giong, and the festival here is considered the biggest and most elaborate. The festival includes rituals, processions, and a reenactment of the battle between Saint Giong and the invaders.
- At Soc Temple, the festival begins from the 6th and lasts until the 8th day of the 1st lunar month. This is the place where Saint Giong ascended to heaven after his victory. The festival here is more solemn and simple, with offerings, prayers, and folk games.
The Giong festival is a cultural heritage of Vietnam that reflects the spirit of patriotism, bravery, and gratitude of the Vietnamese people. It is also a colorful and lively event that attracts many visitors and tourists every year.
The most impressive part of the festival is the mock battle, where hundreds of young men dressed as soldiers ride on bamboo horses and fight with bamboo spears and flags. The festival also showcases the folk culture and art of the Red River Delta region.
In 2011, Giong Association was honored to receive as the representative intangible cultural heritage of humanity recognized by UNESCO.
Other Vietnam traditional festivals
Traditional festivals are an opportunity for people to exchange and pass on morals and ethics about noble aspirations; at the same time recalling many stories about objects of worship such as heroes against foreign invaders, people with meritorious services against natural disasters, killing wild animals, saving humanity… or people with meritorious services.
Traditional festivals help wash away daily worries and help people find serenity in a spiritual place. And that is also the reason why traditional festivals in Vietnam often attract a large number of locals and tourists from near and far.
Vu Lan Festival
Vu Lan Festival, also known as Wandering Souls Day, is a major Buddhist festival in Vietnam that honors the parents, grandparents, and ancestors of the living.
It is one of the biggest and most important festivals in Vietnam, along with the Lunar New Year. Vu Lan Festival takes place on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which usually falls in August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
Vu Lan Festival is a time for expressing gratitude, compassion, and filial piety to the elders and the deceased. According to Buddhism, this is the day when the gates of hell are opened, and the wandering souls of the dead can return to the human world.
Therefore, many people go to the pagodas to pray for the peace and happiness of their living parents, and for the liberation and rebirth of their past parents in the seven previous lives.
They also offer incense, flowers, fruits, and vegetarian food to the family altar, and release paper lanterns on the river to guide the lost souls.
Some people also wear roses on their chest, a ritual initiated by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in the 1960s. A red rose means that both parents are alive, while a white rose means that one or both parents have passed away.
Vu Lan Festival is not only celebrated in Vietnam, but also in other Asian countries, such as China, Japan, Korea, and Indonesia, where it is known by different names, such as Yulan Pen, Ullambana, Bon, or Hungry Ghost Festival.
However, the common spirit of the festival is to show respect and love to the parents and ancestors, and to cultivate kindness and generosity to all beings. Vu Lan Festival is a beautiful and meaningful event that reflects the culture and heritage of Vietnam and Buddhism.
Long Tong Festival
It is a typical traditional festival of the Tay community, held annually in January and February of the lunar calendar according to each locality.
The festival is an opportunity for people everywhere to pray for good fortune, good crops, peaceful and happy life.
Many traditional folk games such as throwing arrows, blindfolded catching goats, singing gliders, etc. are held during this festival.
Muong village praying festival
It is a traditional festival of the Thai people in Mai Chau, Thuan Chau, Moc Chau, and the Muong people. Muong village praying for peace festival is an important cultural and religious activity for ethnic minority communities in the Northwest region.
The festival is usually held at the end of January and the beginning of February of the lunar calendar every year; The festival is associated with the custom of killing buffaloes and giving thanks to the gods, expressed through the images of water gods, waterfowl, etc.
Muong village praying festival has many activities related to material, spiritual, spiritual life, crops, or the health of the whole community. during the year the festival takes place.
Yen Tu Festival – Quang Ninh
Yen Tu is a famous Buddhist destination in Quang Ninh province, where the Truc Lam Zen sect was founded by King Tran Nhan Tong in the 13th century. Yen Tu is also known for its scenic beauty and historical relics, such as pagodas, shrines, and towers.
Yen Tu Festival is an annual event that attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists who want to pay homage to the King-Monk and enjoy the natural and cultural attractions of the area.
Yen Tu Festival starts on the 10th day of the first lunar month and lasts until the end of the third lunar month, which usually falls between February and April. During this time, people flock to Yen Tu Mountain to participate in various activities, such as offering incense, praying, chanting, and donating.
They also climb the mountain to visit the Dong Pagoda, which is located at the highest peak of Yen Tu, about 1,068 meters above sea level. The journey is challenging but rewarding, as it offers a chance to experience the spiritual and majestic atmosphere of Yen Tu.
Yen Tu Festival is not only a religious occasion, but also a cultural and tourist one. Visitors can learn more about the history and legend of Yen Tu, as well as the architecture and art of the pagodas and shrines.
Visitors can also admire the natural beauty of Yen Tu, such as the forests, waterfalls, and flowers. Moreover, they can enjoy the local cuisine and specialties, such as banh gai (glutinous rice cake with black sesame), banh te (rice cake with green bean), and ruou can (rice wine).
Yen Tu Festival is a unique and meaningful event that reflects the culture and heritage of Vietnam and Buddhism. It is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to explore the Buddhist land of Yen Tu and experience its charm and splendor.
Dong Da mound festival – Hanoi
As a victory festival, held annually to commemorate the illustrious feats of King Quang Trung – the hero in the history of the nation against foreign invaders. Many fun games are held during the festival to show chivalry.
In particular, the Thang Long Fire Dragon procession is said to be the most unique and impressive in the whole festival.
Dong Da mound festival takes place on the 5th day of Tet at Dong Da mound area, Quang Trung ward, Dong Da district, Hanoi.
Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival – Ninh Binh
As a spring festival, pilgrimage festival to the famous ancient capital of Hoa Lu, taking place from the 6th day of the Lunar New Year to the end of March, the Bai Dinh pagoda festival is held annually in Sinh Duoc village, Gia Sinh commune. Gia Vien district.
As a large temple complex including the past and present, the Bai Dinh pagoda festival is considered a typical traditional festival of Vietnamese people.
In the opening season, millions of Buddhists throughout the country and tourists from all over the world are excited to visit the Bai Dinh pagoda festival, to feel the love of nature in the historical festival, and then look forward to the past to build the country.
Visiting Bai Dinh Pagoda does not stop at the place of Buddha or the sky – the scene of the Buddha, but also at the contact and integration between people in front of the vast nature of a region.
Tran Temple Festival – Nam Dinh
Also known as the Opening Ceremony of Tran Temple, the festival at Tran Temple takes place from the 13th to the 15th day of the first lunar month every year.
The festival was solemnly celebrated with processions from surrounding communal houses and temples gathered and sacrifices at Thuong temple to worship 14 Tran kings.
The incense offering ceremony included 14 virgin girls. The parts of Tran temple with various forms of activities such as martial arts performances of five generations, wrestling, lion dance, playing card chess…
The Tran Temple Festival is also an opportunity for each person in Nam Dinh in particular and Vietnamese people, in general, to be proud when remembering their roots and the kings and generals of the Tran Dynasty.
Keo Pagoda Festival – Thai Binh
As one of the most famous ancient temples in Vietnam, Keo Pagoda is located in Duy Nhat commune, Vu Thu district, Thai Binh province. The steeple of Keo pagoda is also a rare unique wooden artwork amidst the vast green of Thai Binh rice countryside.
Keo Pagoda Festival with the custom of worshiping Zen master Khong Lo attracts all ages and all classes of residents in the area to visit. The festival is held two times a year: the Spring Festival is held on the 4th of the Lunar New Year and the Autumn Festival is held on September 13, 14, and 15.
In addition to the Buddha festival, the Keo pagoda festival also has entertainment competitions associated with agricultural residents’ activities such as duck catching, rice cooking, and firecracker throwing competitions.
New rice festival – Central Highlands
For ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands, the god of rice is respected no less than other gods. After the annual harvest, people hold a ceremony to eat new rice, to give thanks to the gods, and to express their joy in enjoying the results of a tiring process.
The harvest festival of the Ma is the biggest festival of the year and usually lasts 7 days. The Bana people’s new rice-eating ceremony takes place only for three days when the harvest has begun. And Somah Kek festival takes place during when mass rice harvest. Finally, the closing ceremony of the warehouse.
Elephants racing Festival – Dak Lak Province
Held annually in the third lunar month, the festival takes place in Buon Don or in the sparse forests along the Sevepoc river.
Before entering the race, a horn sounded and each group of elephants controlled by the mahout stood at the starting position.
When there is a command to start, the elephants will race forward in the sound of gongs, drums, cheers, and cheers echoing through the mountains.
Ba Chua Xu Festival – An Giang
It is the largest folk festival in the South. The festival is held from the night of the 23rd to the 27th of the fourth lunar month every year. During the holidays taking place at Ba Chua Xu Temple in Sam mountain (An Giang province), many cultural activities such as ball dancing and boi singing take place.
On the night of the 23rd, the Ba bathing ritual took place attracting a large number of viewers. Then the statue was brought down and used rainwater mixed with perfume to bathe.
The annual Ba Via festival attracts tourists from all over the world to attend folk festivals, pray for fortune, and also an opportunity to admire the beautiful natural scenery in Sam Mountain and surrounding historical sites such as the Tomb of Thoai. Ngoc Hau, Tay An Pagoda…
Ok Om Bok Festival – Tra Vinh
The festival, also known as the Moon worshiping ceremony of the Khmer ethnic group in the South, is held on the full moon day and begins when the moon rises.
Stemming from folk beliefs, the moon is known as the god of crop protection, so the Khmer people often organize the Ok Om Bok festival on the full moon day of the 10th lunar month every year to thank the gods for giving favorable rain.
According to the Khmer custom, after the moon worshiping ceremony, there will be a Nge Ngo race, attracting tens of thousands of people to participate.
Vietnam is a country with a rich and diverse culture, which is reflected in its festivals.
By joining these festivals, you can experience and appreciate the culture and heritage of Vietnam, as well as have fun and make memories. Whether you are looking for a festive atmosphere, a spiritual experience, or a cultural immersion, you will find a festival in Vietnam that suits your interests and expectations.
However, before you go, make sure you do some research and planning, and respect the customs and beliefs of the locals. We hope this article has given you some useful information and inspiration for your next trip to Vietnam.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most important festival in Vietnam?
The most important festival in Vietnam is the Lunar New Year, or Tet, which marks the beginning of a new year and a new spring. It is a time for family reunions, ancestral worship, house cleaning, and festive decorations.
What are some of the traditional foods eaten during festivals in Vietnam?
Some of the traditional foods eaten during festivals in Vietnam are banh chung (sticky rice cake), mut (candied fruits), thit kho (braised pork), banh troi (rice dumplings), banh it (sticky rice balls), and mooncakes.
How can I join the festivals in Vietnam?
You can join the festivals in Vietnam by booking your trip in advance, checking the dates and locations of the festivals, and following the guidelines and etiquette of the locals. You can also hire a local guide or join a tour group to get a better understanding and experience of the festivals.
What are some of the best places to see festivals in Vietnam?
Some of the best places to see festivals in Vietnam are Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City. These places have a variety of festivals that showcase the history, culture, and diversity of Vietnam.
What are some of the benefits of joining festivals in Vietnam?
Some of the benefits of joining festivals in Vietnam are learning about the culture and heritage of Vietnam, witnessing the vibrant and colorful aspects of Vietnamese life, interacting with the friendly and hospitable locals, and having fun and making memories.