Best festivals in Vietnam

Vietnam is a top destination for festival lovers! Here, we take a look at some of the country's biggest ones, as well as some small-scale – but no less important – village festivities.
Best festivals in Vietnam: Dancing dragon during Tet, Hanoi.
Best festivals in Vietnam: Dancing dragon during Tet, Hanoi.


Looking for the best festivals in Vietnam? This country is a must-visit for festival lovers! Colourful festivities, most with a strong Chinese cultural influence, take place throughout the year; although the most interesting ones occur in spring and autumn. Nearly all coincide with the lunar calendar. For a complete list of festivals (including many region-specific events) and precise dates, check www.vietnamtourism.com.


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Flower garlands and coloured lanterns are lit to celebrate Buddha's birthday. Photo: Shutterstock

Nationwide highlights


Jan/Feb, Tet: The first seven days of the Lunar New Year mark the most important holiday in Vietnam (Tet Nguyen Dan), although only the first four days are a national holiday.

Mar/Apr, Thanh Minh: This is a time when people visit the graves of their ancestors to make special offerings.

May/June, Buddha’s Birthday: Better known as Vesak, this is a big day at temples complete with religious processions and ceremonies.

May/June, Tiet Doan Ngo: Summer Solstice Day is observed by making offerings to spirits to ward off summer epidemics. It is often celebrated with dragon-boat races.

Aug, Trang Nguyen: Wandering Souls Day is the second-largest celebration after Tet.

Sept/Oct, Trung Thu: The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for eating “moon cakes” filled with nuts, seeds and egg yolks. Children are given lanterns in the shape of dragons, carps and stars to play with.

Celebratory boat Race on the Black River in Dien Bien. Photo: Shutterstock

Village festivals

The best time to observe village festivals is just after Tet, a word which itself means “festival.” During the first two lunar months (February and March), most villages organise a fête of some sort. Families will visit the village pagoda and light incense to local deities and their ancestors. Youngsters play games, swinging on giant bamboo swings or playing “human chess” with people or metre-high models moving between squares marked on a courtyard.

Villages near the Red River (Song Hong) in northern Vietnam send boats to collect ceremonial water to offer to the water god, Ha Ba. The most spectacular of these traditions is when young men put on the elaborate costumes of the dancing lion and dance energetically among the revellers to the sound of beating drums. One of the most popular of these occasions is the quan ho festival at Lim village, near Hanoi. Here, young couples sing love songs to each other in a fertility rite to welcome the spring, a time-honoured tradition that goes back to ancient times.