Vietnam TravelYour Personal Guide to Vietnam’s Most Iconic Festivals

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Experience the Tet Nguyen Dan (Lunar New Year)

Vietnam’s most significant festival, Tet Nguyen Dan, ushers in the Lunar New Year and is a spectacle of customs and traditions. This festival fills the streets of cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with vibrant decorations, bustling markets, and joyful reunions. Families honor their ancestors with special offerings, while homes are adorned with peach blossoms and kumquat trees, symbols of prosperity and good fortune. Tet is the perfect time for visitors to experience the warmth of Vietnamese hospitality and the depth of its cultural roots. During this time, traditional foods such as Banh Chung (square sticky rice cake) and Banh Tet (cylindrical sticky rice cake) play central roles in the celebration. The giving of lucky money in red envelopes to children and elderly people is also a beloved custom. This holiday is so pivotal that the country practically shuts down, allowing everyone to return to their hometowns for family gatherings, making it an ideal period for tourists to see Vietnamese culture in its most familial and celebratory form.

ao dai tet holidays

photo: Taan Huyn

 

Delight in the Mid-Autumn Festival (Tet Trung Thu)

The Mid-Autumn Festival, or Tet Trung Thu, is especially enchanting, celebrating the harvest and family reunions. Held on the full moon night of the eighth lunar month, it features children parading the streets with colorful lanterns and masks. The festivities are marked by the consumption of mooncakes, which are rich pastries filled with sweet bean paste and egg yolks. Towns like Hoi An turn into lantern wonderlands, offering a magical experience for visitors and locals alike. The festival is deeply imbued with folklore, particularly the legend of Cuoi, whose mythical tale about hanging onto a banyan tree that ascends to the moon is a favorite among children. Families also gather to watch lion dances in public squares, which are performed to bring good luck and fortune. Lanterns are not just playthings but symbolize illuminating the future and releasing past woes, a tradition that adds a profound layer of meaning to the visually stunning displays.

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Join the Hue Festival

hue vietnam

photo: Thinh Nguyen

The Hue Festival, which takes place every two years in the ancient city of Hue, showcases a grand cultural extravaganza. This week-long event features historical reenactments, cultural performances, and showcases of art and cuisine unique to the region. The festival’s highlight is the stunning performances in the Imperial Citadel, where visitors can step back in time to witness Vietnam’s royal traditions. Activities include performances of Nha Nhac (Vietnamese court music), poetry readings, and Ao Dai fashion shows that celebrate traditional Vietnamese garments. The festival serves as a platform to preserve and promote the distinctive cultural identity of Hue, previously the capital of Vietnam, and it draws performers and tourists from across the globe. It’s a culturally enriching experience that offers a rare glimpse into the arts and lifestyles of ancient Vietnam, presented through modern artistic expression.

 

Celebrate the Hung Kings Festival

The Hung Kings Festival is a national holiday that pays homage to the first emperors of Vietnam. Pilgrims and tourists flock to the Hung Temple in Phu Tho Province to participate in ritual offerings and enjoy traditional music performances. The festival not only honors Vietnam’s founding fathers but also unites the people in a shared sense of national pride and cultural reverence. This event is pivotal because it underlines the importance of family and lineage within Vietnamese culture, where ancestors are venerated. The ceremonies are elaborate, with incense offerings and prayers that fill the temple grounds. The festival is a public holiday in Vietnam, reflecting its importance in Vietnamese society, where history and heritage are cherished deeply. For visitors, it provides an unparalleled insight into the spiritual and communal life of Vietnam.

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Revel in the Lim Festival

Experience the vibrant Lim Festival, located in Bac Ninh Province, famous for Quan Ho folk singing performed by locals dressed in traditional costumes. This festival, held in the spring, celebrates the rich folk music traditions of the region, which have been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Visitors can enjoy boat races, folk games, and the unique call-and-response singing that takes place between the banks of the village’s ponds. The singers, traditionally men and women from different villages, exchange songs of love and sentimentality, showcasing a lyrical dialogue that is both poetic and profoundly cultural. The festival not only preserves this unique form of singing but also promotes it among younger generations, ensuring its survival and continued relevance. It’s an exuberant display of local artistry and community spirit that attracts both domestic and international tourists.

 

Discover the Perfume Pagoda Festival

The Perfume Pagoda Festival, one of Vietnam’s largest Buddhist festivals, attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists to the Perfume Pagoda in Hanoi each spring. The festival begins with a scenic boat ride along the Yen Stream, followed by a hike up the mountain to the pagoda. This spiritual journey through beautiful landscapes culminates in ceremonies and prayers that offer a profound sense of peace and renewal. The site is considered one of the most sacred in Vietnam, where prayers for good health and prosperity are offered. During the festival, the path leading up to the pagoda is lined with stalls selling religious artifacts and traditional foods, creating a lively atmosphere that blends devotion with celebration. The journey, challenging yet serene, mirrors the path to enlightenment, making it a deeply spiritual experience for believers and an intriguing cultural experience for visitors.

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Explore the Elephant Races in Dak Lak

elephant dak lak

photo: Tien Vu Ngoc

For something truly unique, visit Dak Lak Province for the annual Elephant Race, an extraordinary display of M’nong ethnic culture. This thrilling event draws crowds from all around to witness these majestic animals thunder down the race track. The festival not only highlights the importance of elephants in the local culture but also promotes conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures. Held during the spring, the races are a part of a larger cultural festival that includes gong performances, traditional dances, and the sampling of local cuisines, particularly the potent rice wine that is a staple of celebrations. The event offers a glimpse into the lives of the M’nong people, for whom elephants play a crucial role in daily life and spiritual beliefs. It’s a spectacular celebration of strength and speed, combined with deep respect for animal and human coexistence.

Traveling through Vietnam during these traditional festivals offers more than just a glimpse into the nation’s cultural fabric—it provides a deep connection to its history and people. Each festival is a doorway into the heart of Vietnam, showcasing the diversity, vibrancy, and spirit of this fascinating country. Whether you’re witnessing the grandeur of Tet or the communal joy of the Mid-Autumn Festival, these experiences are sure to enrich your understanding of Vietnamese culture and leave you with unforgettable memories. With a deeper appreciation of these traditions, visitors can truly connect with the cultural essence of Vietnam, making each festival not just an event to observe, but a moment to live.

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vietzone
Member

Get ready to soak up the rich culture of Vietnam! Dive into the festivities of the Tet Festival, where you can witness dazzling fireworks, gorge on traditional treats, and dance with majestic dragons for good luck. And for a truly special experience, why not join the Whale Worshiping Festival in coastal spots like Phan Thiet?

MuCangChaiMountaineer
Guest
MuCangChaiMountaineer

The Tet Festival in Vietnam, or Lunar New Year, is a lively celebration bursting with colorful decorations, traditional customs, and joyful gatherings. Families gather to pay homage to their ancestors, share gifts, and relish in dishes that symbolize good fortune and success. It’s truly a heartwarming experience!

NguyenHien1998
Member

You’ve got to check out the vibrant Lantern Festival in Vietnam! Sparkling lanterns, folk performances, and delicious treats await. Let the lanterns light up your night!

WallabyPouch81
Guest
WallabyPouch81

That sounds like such a heartwarming experience! How do you celebrate these festivals? I’d love to hear about your traditions.

canabee11
Member

Your enthusiasm for the Tet Festival is contagious! It’s wonderful to embrace the traditions and joy with loved ones. A little nugget of history: The Tet Festival dates back thousands of years and carries deep cultural significance.

lucky7jade_37
Guest
lucky7jade_37

Let’s explore the festive wonders of Vietnam! From Tet Nguyen Dan to the Mid-Autumn Festival, get ready for an unforgettable journey through vibrant traditions and mouthwatering treats!

Red7Pawz-f4p
Guest
Red7Pawz-f4p

Embark on a vibrant journey through Vietnam’s festivals, from Tet Nguyen Dan to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Let’s delve into diverse traditions and delectable delights along the way!

BinhThanhBackpacker
Guest
BinhThanhBackpacker

There are some awesome festivals in Vietnam you gotta check out! I love the Perfume Pagoda Festival in Hanoi and the Da Nang International Fireworks Festival 🎆. Such magical experiences! 😊

GentleHonor-837
Guest
GentleHonor-837

Don’t forget the vibrant Tet Festival celebrating the Lunar New Year in every corner of Vietnam. Have you ever witnessed the mesmerizing lantern-lit streets and traditional dragon dances during this auspicious time of year? It’s a feast for the senses!

HaGiangHighlander
Guest
HaGiangHighlander

My stars! You wouldn’t believe it, but those festivals are truly out of this world! 🤯 By the way, did I tell you about the Lantern Festival in Hoi An? It’s a sight to behold!

NguyenHien1998
Member

Excited to explore Vietnam’s vibrant festivals? Picture kids with lanterns at the Mid-Autumn Fest, and the Tet Festival’s lively dragon dances and tasty dishes. These celebrations are a blast! Which festival are you most curious about attending?

BacHaBargainer
Guest
BacHaBargainer

I can’t get enough of the vibrant Tet Festival! The lively dragon dances and tasty dishes make it a must-see event. The festive atmosphere truly captures the essence of Vietnamese culture.

1988TQ
Member

Trust me, you would love the mesmerizing Lantern Festival in Hoi An! The lantern-lit river, the enchanting night market – it’s like stepping into a magical realm. Picture this: a boat gliding through colorful lanterns, casting a dreamy glow. It’s simply enchanting.

BaoBunBuddy
Guest
BaoBunBuddy

The Tet Festival is a celebration not to be missed! Have you tried banh chung, a traditional dish made of glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork wrapped in banana leaves? It’s a delicious treat enjoyed during the festivities!

SaigonSoul
Member

That sounds delicious! The Tet Festival is a real treat with its vibrant celebrations and tasty dishes. That combination of glutinous rice, mung beans, and pork wrapped in banana leaves must create a mouthwatering dish. It’s a must-try for sure!

PixelJedi-5c
Guest
PixelJedi-5c

Well, you know, the Tet Festival is like a buffet of deliciousness waiting for you to dig in! Trust me, once you taste banh chung, you’ll be hooked on Vietnam’s culinary delights. So, what festival food are you most excited to try next time?

UrbsRancher_663
Guest
UrbsRancher_663

You’ve got to try that beef pho at the next festival! Speaking of classics, the vibrant lanterns at the Mid-Autumn Festival light up the night with their enchanting glow.

ThanhHoaThriller
Guest
ThanhHoaThriller

Beef pho is a must-try, and the lanterns at the Mid-Autumn Festival are truly mesmerizing. Don’t forget to soak up the festive atmosphere!

canabee11
Member

Have you witnessed the vibrant dragon dances at the Tet Festival or savored the sticky rice cakes during Tết Nguyên Đán? The experiences are truly unforgettable!

PagodaPilgrim
Guest
PagodaPilgrim

Super stoked to give you the lowdown on all the vibrant festivals waiting for you in Vietnam! Let’s get ready to immerse ourselves in the lively and colorful celebrations! Don’t forget to try the delectable street food specialties at the festivals!

FateForte134
Guest
FateForte134

Ah, you gotta dig into those streets eats, they’re the real VIPs of the festivities! Time to tickle those taste buds and dance like nobody’s watching! Let’s go foodie frenzy!

JaxRy34P9Mn-699
Guest
JaxRy34P9Mn-699

You’re in for a treat! Let’s feast on Vietnam’s street eats together! Don’t forget to try the delectable banh mi sandwiches – absolute must-try!

CatBaCruiser
Guest
CatBaCruiser

Together, we’ll explore the vibrant festivals. Have you discovered the mesmerizing water puppet shows or the electrifying dragon dances yet? Embrace the rich culture and let the festivities ignite your spirit!

CaPheConnoisseur
Guest
CaPheConnoisseur

Thanks for the tip! Let’s dig into those banh mi sandwiches together. I can already imagine the delicious flavors awaiting us at the festival!

HoaMai18
Member

Let’s explore the festivals together and relish the delightful street food offerings. We should try the diverse array of dishes available. Our mutual love for food adventures is awesome!

CuriousMind23
Member

We should definitely sample the diverse dishes at the festivals and revel in the vibrant street food scene together. By the way, did you know that Vietnamese festivals offer a fantastic mix of traditional cuisine and cultural experiences? Let’s make our food adventures even more memorable!