When you think of Vietnam, the beaches and the culinary heritage are some of the first things that come to mind. Another form of experience to be added to the country's list of diverse attractions is the unique festivals. Vietnam, a land steeped in tradition and history, hosts an array of unique celebrations throughout the year. These cultural festivals offer a captivating glimpse into the country's rich heritage, blending vibrant rituals, music, and community celebrations.
From the hills of Bac Ninh to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's festivals reflect the country's diverse culture and heritage. Plan your trip around these unique festivals and embrace the colours, traditions, and heartwarming experiences they offer.
In February, the Lim Festival in Bac Ninh Province, commences the Vietnamese festival calendar with a vibrant celebration of spring. Highlighting the unique culture of the Red River Delta, this three-day festival commemorates the founder with a remarkable ritual called quan họ. Here, traditionally dressed men and women serenade each other from dragon boats, singing quan họ folk songs that evoke themes of love, longing, and the beauty of nature. Engage in the festival's jovial spirit as locals adorned in vibrant traditional costumes partake in various games and a choir singing that resonates across the landscape.
Between April and May, the Xến Xó Phốn festival unfolds in the beautiful Mai Châu valley, belonging to the White Thai people, a local minority group. This ritual aims to summon rain, believed to bring prosperity to the harvest. Throughout the village, songs and offerings are made, creating an atmosphere that symbolizes the community's hope for bountiful rains and a flourishing harvest.
When: Between April and May
If you are in Vietnam around late August, the Ghost Festival of Wandering Souls Day should be on your list of experiences to indulge in. Between late August and early September, the Wandering Souls Day, a significant event where Vietnamese families welcome the spirits of their ancestors back home, takes place.
The pagodas of Hue, with their serene ambience, offer an authentic setting to witness the ritual where prayers, flowers, and fruits are offered at ancestral graves, and paper money and clothes are burnt for the spirits' use in the afterlife.
When: Late August to early September
Celebrated between September and October, the Mid-Autumn Festival centres around children adorned with toys, paper lanterns, and masks. Joyful festivities feature lion dances, lantern processions, and moon gazing as families gather to watch the harvest moon and partake in sweet treats. Hoi An's UNESCO-listed Ancient Town transforms into a magical venue for this celebration, with lanterns adorning the Thu Bon River.
When: Between September and October
Hoi An's Lantern Festival illuminates the ancient town in a dreamy aura, with thousands of lanterns casting a soft, warm glow. An embodiment of tradition and spirituality, the festival symbolizes peace, prosperity, and happiness as locals pay homage to their ancestors. Visitors can engage in lantern-making workshops, enjoy traditional music, and savour local delicacies from street food stalls while witnessing the spectacle of lanterns adrift on the Thu Bon River.
When: The 14th day of every month
In early December, the Oóc Om Bóc festival in Sóc Trăng province offers an extraordinary glimpse into the Khmer culture in the Mekong Delta. Don't miss out on the vibrant activities that showcase the rich culture of the locals. Festivities include rituals to thank the moon god, vibrant feasting, singing, and the thrilling 'Ngo' boat race that draws thousands of travellers to witness this spirited celebration.
When: Early December
As you explore these unique celebrations, immerse yourself in the vibrancy, traditions, and warmth that define the heart of Vietnam's cultural spirit. Each festival unfolds a unique story, offering an unforgettable experience and a deeper understanding of the country's rich cultural traditions. As responsible travellers, keep in mind the importance of respecting the local culture and partake in the festivities without hindering the environment and traditions of the place.
Vietnam has three international airports- The Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Tan Son Nhat International Airport at Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang International Airport at Da Nang. You can take flights to Vietnam from major cities in India including Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Amritsar and Thiruvananthapuram.