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VIETNAM
FESTIVALS & EVENTS

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From huge national celebrations such as the Vietnamese New Year (Tet) to tiny local events like an Elephant Racing Day in Dak Lak, Vietnam has a full and diverse festive calendar. Buddhism is usually the central theme for celebrations, with the spectacular Huong Pagoda and Ok Om Bok Festivals both epitomizing the religious spirit.

Date
Location
January/February
Hoi An

Tet Holiday Rice Cooking Competitions

February 9 2016

As part of the Tet New Year celebrations, villages hold rice cooking contests on the first day of the lunar year. You won’t find any electric rice cookers here; contestants must use dried sugar cane for fire whilst floating in bamboo boat. Expect the action to start at sunrise, with over 200 people all cooking to the sound of a drum.

 
 
January/February
Sapa

Tet Dancing Festival

February 19-20 2015

This lively two-day dance festival in Sapa District (Lao Cai Province) is held as part of Vietnamese New Year (Tet). The elaborate dance styles on show represent heavenly figures who are supposed to come down to earth to join in the Tet celebrations. Vibrant colors and statue bathing are also on display throughout the village.

 
 
February
Various

H'Mong Village Festival

February 21-23 2015

One noteworthy festival of the remote H’Mong ethnic group is Gau Tao or San Sai Festival, which roughly translates to ‘walking on the mountain’. This is a chance for all the villagers to dress up, showing off their best clothes and new costumes over the course of three days. Elsewhere, you'll see games, singing and traditional ceremonies.

 
 
February
Hue

Long Tong Agricultural Festival

February 28 2015

Set in the spectacular surrounds of Bo Lu field in Bac Kan province, Long Tong is one of the largest agricultural festivals in northern Vietnam. Literally meaning ‘going to the field’, the daylong festival includes various religious rituals alongside stilt walking, archery, ball games and all the usual farm animals.

 
 
February-May
My Duc

Huong Pagoda Festival

February 24-May 24 2015

One of the most spectacular Buddhist festivals in northern Vietnam, this epic three-month event in My Duc District is split into two parts: ceremonial rituals and entertaining activities. Expect monks giving blessings, alongside beautiful dances and flower shows. Pilgrims also take boat trips and go mountain climbing.

 
 
February-May
Yen Tu

Yen Tu Festival

February 8-17 2016

The three-month Yen Tu Festival, held within a majestic mountain range in north-eastern Vietnam, starts on the 10th day of the first lunar month. After holding a small ritual at the base of Yen Tu Mountain, tens of thousands of pilgrims journey to a shrine at the summit in an effort to realize personal dreams or get rid of sorrow.

 
 
March-April
Dak Lak

Elephant Race Festival

March-April annually

The Elephant Race Festival is a full-day event held in Don Village, usually in spring. People from all over come to watch the race and also show off their colorful outfits. Trained elephants gallop across the 500m track with frightening speed and power. After the main event, the elephants also compete in swimming and tug-of-war contests.

 
 
February/March
Bac Ninh

Lim Festival

February 20 1016

The Lim Festival in Bac Ninh is a rich Vietnamese cultural festival taking place on the 13th day of the first lunar month. Just outside Hanoi, Lim Village welcomes many visitors, most of whom are coming to see (and hear) the famous Quan Ho show. This ancient ritual involves a ‘dialogue’ sung in a unique Vietnamese style.

 
 
April/May
Khau Vai

Khau Vai Love Market

May 2 2016

At Khau Vai Love Market festival you won’t find anything on sale. This unique one-day event is an opportunity for long lost lovers to meet, offering a sanctuary for couples that couldn't marry, due to being from different tribes. Monks also give their blessings to the once broken-hearted lovers at this happy yet poignant festival.

 
 
April
Phu Tho

Hung King Temple Festival

April 16 2016

Set on the top of the spectacular Nghia Linh Mountain, Hung King Temple Festival is an ancient and sacred event marking Hung King’s death. Celebrations start the night before, with 100 flying lights being released into the night sky. The main day features elaborate ceremonies worshipping Hung King, big feasts, elephant marches and songs.

 
 
November
Soc Trang

Ok Om Bok Festival

November 14-17 annually

The four-day Ok Om Bok Festival in Soc Trang is a chance for Vietnam’s Khmer ethnic group to celebrate, whilst also thanking their Moon Goddess for any good fortune from the past year. Spiritual ceremonies are combined with mass lantern making sessions (and releasing), as well as the festival's highlight: a canoe boat race.

 
 
Monthly
Hoi An

Full Moon Lantern Festival

Monthly

On the eve of every full moon, the quaint town of Hoi An switches off its lights. However, this doesn’t mean it plunges into darkness. Instead, the town is lit up by candles, and glowing lanterns are released into the sky. Popular amongst both tourists and locals, the spiritual atmosphere really makes for an unforgettable experience.

 
 
Meet An Asia Expert
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Our General Manager Victoria Hilley lived in Hanoi for a year, where she enjoyed motorbiking through the villages & rice terraces of Vietnam's mountainous north.
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