Vietnam’s festivals follow the Chinese lunar calendar—this Southeast Asian country’s culture and festivals are strongly influenced by Vietnam’s past as a Chinese vassal state. Thus many of the festivals in the list below are moveable relative to the Gregorian calendar; while the dates relative to the lunar calendar do not change, the dates relative to the Gregorian calendar do.
Some of these festivals are celebrated nationwide but as some provinces have their own series of festivals unique to the locals, we’ve tried to include some of the more notable local ones too.
1. Bai Dinh Pagoda Festival
The spring festival of Bai Dinh Pagoda takes place since the first day of New Year, officially starts on the 6th day and lasts till the end of the third lunar month. This festival is the perfect start for pilgrimages towards the imperial capital Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh province. In the festival days, there is a warm-heartedness of the young, the respect of the elderly and the joyfulness of the visitors and Buddhist follower. The groups of people crowdedly go along the hillsides. All the people are happy and excited.
2. Huong Pagoda Festival
Together with Bai Dinh and Yen Tu Pagoda Festival, Huong Pagoda Festival is among the greatest Buddhist festival in northern part of Vietnam. Huong Pagoda Festival plays an important role in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people in general and Vietnamese Buddhists in particular.
Unlike many other festivals, the Huong Pagoda Festival does not centre around traditional games, but rather romantic trips to caves, pagodas and temples and participation in ceremonies to beseech favours from Lord Buddha. In order to warning up the festival’s lively ambience in the chilly weather, the traditional raditional songs and dances took place before and after the ceremony. Visitors attending Huong pagoda festival usually make some wishes and when they are worshipping Buddha’s in the pagoda, they pray for their wishes to come true. In addition, cultural activities and sporting contests are also held on the occasion of Huong Pagoda Festival: boat racing, climbing, folk song singing, etc. These festive activities take place throughout the festival.
3. Co Loa Citadel Festival
Among the very old days of the country, under the government of King An Duong Vuong (Thuc Phan), Vietnam was called Au Lac. The King decided to build Co Loa (located at Dong Anh District, Hanoi at present time) as the country’s royal palace. To commemorate the event when An Duong Vuong started moving into the citadel, residents of 12 hamlets belonging to Co Loa as well as 7 other communes around the region held Co Loa Citadel Festival within a 10 day period—from the 6th to 16th day of the first Lunar month. On the 5th day, at the afternoon, all of the eight communes hold a ceremony with incense offering at the communal house. Meanwhile, at An Duong Vuong Temple, the same ritual is held by the most respected elder among 8 communes, with revision of An Duong Vuong’s accomplishments and merits. On the next day—the official festive day—a procession in which the funeral oration, incense burner and stone tablet are taken from the elder’s house to Upper Temple is carried out. This settlement will be positioned in front of the two altars later on.
4. Lim Festival
About twenty kilometers away from Hanoi, Lim Village of Bac Ninh province is the “hometown” of Quan Ho folk songs, one of Vietnam’s intangible cultural heritages. In order to enhance and promote the tradition of Quan Ho singing, Lim Festival is eagerly celebrated among local residents as well as pilgrims from every part of the country around the 12th or the 13th day of the first Lunar month. Each year, thousands of tourists come to visit Lim Festival and enjoy that Intangible Cultural Heritage. On Lim Hill, several stages of villages in Bac Ninh Province are built. Visitors can enjoy “quan ho” singing at difference stages and interact with singers in traditional costumes.
5. Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings
As Vietnamese people always show deep gratitude towards their origins and ancestors, every year, the Death anniversary of the Hung Kings-also known as Hung King Temple Festival-is celebrated on the tenth day of the third Lunar month. Every year, a large number of visitors from all over the country participate in a national festival – Hung King Temple Festival – an incense offering ceremony in honor of Hung Kings, who were instrumental in the founding of the nation.
The worship ritual originates from ancestor worship rituals in Vietnamese families and has become a significant cultural festival for the people. It helps to link the past and the present and foster strong sentiments of Vietnamese people for their families and country.The ritual is significant in the mind of Vietnamese people as it confirms that they have the same father and mother. The origin reminds Vietnamese to always unite, love and protect each other.
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