Vietnam is a country of feast
and festivities. Feasts are for showing respects to the genie and the
ancestors. Festivities give villagers an opportunity to enjoy themselves,
thus helping the young meet and make acquaintance with each other or
participate in contests to show their talents and strength. It is the
right time to relax after hardworking days. Festivals assume various
characteristics according to the local tradition.
In traditional way, each village worships its own
genie, a spirit with magic powers that protects the villagers by referring
harvests. Hence, villagers organize a festival, which lasts a week to give
thanks to this genie every year. There are many famous local festivals
which are not only expected by the villagers but still attract more and
more faraway tourists.
Hung Temple Festival
Hung Temple is located in Nghia Linh Mountain, Phu Tho
Province. This national festival is held annually in honor of the Hung
Kings and to remind people of the origins of the nation and the
difficulties the founders had to overcome. The festival, which takes place
in Thuong temple, where the Hung king used to worship deities and to
present offerings, lasts 3 days, from the 9th to the 11th of the third
Co Loa Temple Festival
The Co Loa Temple Festival is held every year in Co
Loa, in Dong Anh, Hanoi, in honor of King An Duong Vuong. This festival
usually lasts from the 6th to the 16th day of the 1st lunar month.
Various traditional games and activities are also held during this
festival: fireworks, songs, theatrical plays, chess and card games.
Villagers also have their own entertainment: wrestling, martial arts, flag
dancing, cock fighting and rice-cooking contests.
Dong Da Festival
The Dong Da Festival is held annually on the 5th day of
the Lunar New Year in Dong Da, Hanoi. Dong Da is the combat field where
Emperor Quang Trung defeated 290,000 Qing invaders more than 200 years
In the early morning of the 5th day of the Lunar New Year, a procession in
honor of the historical victory is held. The outstanding element of this
procession is the Fire Dragon. A 15-meter dragon made of cloth and paper
is raised above the heads of the young men leading the creature. Other
young men walk along with the dragon and perform martial arts, simulating
the historical battle.
Kiep Bac Festival
The Kiep Bac Temple is located in Chi Linh, Hai Duong.
This is where people worship general Tran Quoc Tuan of the Tran Dynasty.
He defeated the Nguyen-Mong invaders three times and was then proclaimed
as a Saint.
The Kiep Bac Temple Festival lasts from 15th to the 20th of the 8th lunar
month. Going on a pilgrimage to Kiep Bac Temple and worshipping Saint Tran
has been part of Vietnamese customs for centuries. The main ceremony of
the festival is held on the 20th, but visitors from everywhere come to
Kiep Bac Temples for days before.
The main ceremony is followed by the great ceremony with strict
worshipping procedures. Next is another procession in which Saint Tran’s
ancestral tablet is brought on a golden procession chair to the riverbank.
The procession chair is placed on a royal barge. The procession, in the
form of a boat cruise, lasts for 2 hours then Saint Tran’s ancestral
tablet is brought back to the main Temple for the last religious service.
One of the most interesting games in the festival is a boat race on the
Luc Dau River in which hundreds of boats participate, rushing ahead like
flying arrows to the drum-urging beat.
Huong Pagoda Festival
Although the Perfume Pagoda Festival is officially
celebrated on the 15th of the second lunar month, a considerable increase
of affluence can be observed from the 15th of the first lunar month to the
15th of the third month. Visitors can reach that area either by road or by
water. The Perfume Pagoda Festival consists of enjoyable sightseeing trips
to different pagodas, temples and caves. This festival also features
ceremonies held in the different temples and pagodas. People go to the
Perfume Pagoda not only for the religious, but also to observe the
numerous natural landscapes.
The Giong Festival is annually held in Phu Dong
village, in Gia Lam District, Ha Noi. This large-scale festival is held on
the 9th day of the 4th lunar month, the date when Giong defeated An
invaders. To show gratitude to Giong who sacrificed his life, people
proclaimed him Saint Giong.
During the Giong Festival, people become aware of the relationship between
individuals and community. Also, this festival is the opportunity to
remind people of the lasting tradition of love for the motherland, which
is preserved as a cultural heritage.
The Lim festival, also known as Quan Ho Folk Song
Festival, is held every year on the 13th of the 1st lunar month. It is
celebrated in honor of Mr. Hieu Trung Hau who invented Quan Ho, a special
kind of folk song originating from Kinh Bac, now called Bac Ninh. Lim is
the common name given to Lung Giang, in Bac Ninh, about 18km from Hanoi.
The festival opens on Lim Hill where the Lim Pagoda is located. Visitors
come to the festival to see “lien anh” and “lien chi” – male and female
farmers who sing alternatively behind the pagoda, on the hill, and on a
boat. Like other religious festivals, this festival includes a procession,
a worshipping ceremony, and games. The Lim festival is a particular
activity of traditional culture of the north. It is also an opportunity to
sing Quan Ho, a national cultural property and a typical kind of love folk
song of the Red River Delta region.
The Thay pagoda is located at the foot of Sai Son
Mountain. The Thay Pagoda Festival is the opportunity to worship Tu Dao
Hanh, a Buddhist monk who created the Vietnamese water puppetry. The
festival is held every year from the 5th to the 7th of the third lunar
month. The main celebration is on the 7th. The festival begins with
Buddha’s worship and platform running, a religious performance supported
by traditional music in a solemn atmosphere. During the festival, numerous
games are played. The most famous performance is the water puppetry, given
in front of the Thuy Dinh, or temple on water. After ceremonies of Buddha,
visitors enjoy hiking while admiring all the beauties of the Doai region.
Visitors also enjoy hearing many famous legends that enrich the
traditional value of that beautiful region.
Do Son Festival
Although the Do Son Buffalo Fighting festival is
officially held on the 9th of the 8th lunar month in Hai Phong,
preparative starts several months before. Fighting buffaloes must be
carefully selected, well fed, and trained. The selection of the official
fighting buffaloes starts in May when qualification matches take place in
small villages. Only 6 buffaloes will participate in the final fight.
Buffalo fighting in Do Son is a traditional festival related to the
worship of water and Hien sinh custom.
Yen Tu Festival
The mountainous region of Yen Tu has been a center of
Buddhism for many centuries, and is the starting point of the Buddhist
sect of Truc Lam.
In the wide ensemble of vestiges in Yen Tu, there are 11 pagodas and
nearly 100 shrines and towers. Yen Tu festivities begin on the 9th day of
the first lunar month and last until the end of the third month. One form
of entertainment is to climb the peak where the Dong pagoda was built. On
the way, you’ll see pagodas, a tower, a stream and a forest. At the top,
after having burned joss sticks, you will seem to be lost in nature
somewhere between the sky and the earth. When clear, you can perceive
almost all of the northeast area from here.
Dong Nhan Temple Festival
Dong Nhan Temple is located in Dong Nhan Precinct, Hai
Ba Trung District, Hanoi. The festival of Dong Nhan Temple is held
annually from the 3rd to the 6th day of the second lunar month.
The temple was established in honor of Hai Ba Trung (Two Trung Sisters)
who were proclaimed the heroines of Vietnam as they greatly contributed to
the defeat of the Dong Han invaders and to the glorious pages of the
history of the country.
The main festival occurs on the 5th day when there is a ceremony for
bathing the statues, opening the back palace, making sacrifices, and light
A solemn procession of the statues from the temple to the Hong River is
followed by many exciting activities at the completion of the bathing
ceremony, including the altar-light dance. 12 young beautiful girls in
colorful dresses holding two lights in their hands perform this dance. The
festival is finished with an incense burning ceremony.
Chu Dong Tu Festival
This festival occurs for three days from the 10th -
12th of the third lunar month in Chu Dong Tu Temple in Du Hoa Village,
Chau Giang District, Hung Yen province, about 20km from Hanoi.
Saint Chu Dong Tu was one of the "four immortal heroes" at the center of
Vietnamese society. Chu Dong Tu was a cultural hero and the founder of
agriculture because he conquered the marsh and developed agriculture and
After the opening ceremony, there is a procession to remind people of the
legend, life, and work of Saint Chu Dong Tu and his two wives.
Traveling ahead of the procession are two splendid golden dragons,
controlled by 10 men, dancing gently with the rhythm of the drums. The
procession includes a team of musicians, the Saint's chair, and couple of
jars. The procession also includes about ten boats that sail to the center
of the river to fill the jars with water before returning back to the
temple for a statue washing ceremony.
After the main ceremony, there are different types of activities conducted
such as wrestling, fighting with sticks, Chinese chess, lion dances and
Keo Pagoda Festival
Keo Pagoda is located in Vu Nhat commune, Thai Binh
province. This great pagoda was built as early as 17th century in honor of
a monk whose name has been recorded in books: Duong Khong Lo. This man was
originally a fisherman, then entered religion and attained Nirvana. He
knew magic and once came to the capital to cure King Ly Thanh Tong so he
was honored as the teacher of princes. He had Nghiem Quang Pagoda built
and later renamed it Than Quang (Keo Pagoda).
The Keo Pagoda festival is annually held for three days, from 13th to 15th
of the ninth lunar month to worship Buddhist Duong Khong Lo.
On the 13th, the festival begins with a procession to remind people of the
anniversary of Buddhist Duong Khong Lo. Then a boat race and a competition
of literary recitation are held in the afternoon. When the night falls, it
is time for a trumpet and drum competition.
On the morning of the 14th, Khong Lo's birthday is celebrated. It is
followed by a procession including a red and white horse pulling a
carriage. The carriage is accompanied by eight flag bearers and 42 men
carrying “bat but luu bo”, a classical Vietnamese weapon complex. In the
afternoon of the 14th, in Gia Roi temple, people hold a worshipping
On the 15th, all ceremonies continue in a more entertaining manner with
more traditional games such as duck catching, rice cooking competition,
firecrackers hurling contest.
Le Mat Village Festival
Le Mat Village belongs to the Viet Hung Commune, Gia
Lam District, Hanoi. The Le Mat Village Festival is held annually on the
23rd of the third lunar month. In the early morning on the 23rd day of the
3rd month, representatives of the 13 camps to the west of the Ancient
Capital Thang Long carry 13 trays of food over their heads from the
capital to the Le Mat Village.
At the beginning of the festival, water and carp processions are staged
and brought to the Thanh Communal House. This ritual reminds the present
generation of the heroic accomplishments of exploiting and bringing about
agriculture to the village. A snake act is then performed in the yard of
the communal house. The snake (made of bamboo taped with cloth) symbolizes
the water-monster species that has been bitten by the power and will of
youth. The music of this act is an octet and the sound of the drummer's
double rhythm is haunting. The Le Mat Village Festival provides an
opportunity for children in the village, and those who have reclaimed this
ancient wasteland in the city, to meet and retell the history of the
establishment of the village. The challenge and difficulty that was
encountered in the establishment of the village is expressed in the
sincere homage of the ancestors of the village.
In addition to the ceremony, the Le Mat people have a special talent for
catching snakes. While attending the Le Mat Village Festival, guests are
offered a cup of snake wine made from three or five snakes.
Truong Yen Festival
The Truong Yen Festival takes place on the 10th day of
the 3rd lunar month in Hoa Lu, ancient capital of Dai Co Viet, which was
the first regime of concentrated power in Vietnam. The festival usually
lasts for three days and is held in honor of the Dinh and Le Kings.
The Truong Yen Festival starts with the water procession, which leaves
from the Dinh King's Temple with colorful flags, the royal chair, and a
jar of holy water to go to the Hoang Long River to get some water, and
finally returning to the Temple. Worshipping ceremonies are held during
the night in both Dinh King and Le King Temples. Then, visitors can burn
joss sticks and visit ancient architectural structures. Several games are
traditionally played during the festival; for example, Lau flag is a game
that consists of performing the same maneuvers young hero Dinh Bo Linh
accomplished during his childhood.
Going to Truong Yen gives one an opportunity to visit an ancient dynastic
capital and to see traditional architectural structures.