Like most cities and regions in Asia, the locals of Hanoi will have any excuse to party. The Vietnamese calendar is dotted with national celebrations and regional special days where people dress up in their best attire to take to the streets. The traditional culture and festivals in Hanoi are indeed things to look forward to in the city.
Local festivals in particular revolve around all kinds of contests such as dragon boat racing, wrestling, rice cooking and even human chess. Many of the festivities are religious in nature, therefore most are celebrated in temples. Other festivals involve paying respect to ancestors which then take place at home.
Here are some of the most celebrated festivals in Hanoi:
- Tet – Tet is the mother of all Vietnamese Festivals as it is the Vietnamese New Year Festival that takes place either in January or February. Being the most important time of the year for the Vietnamese people, Tet causes the country to close down or at least go on hold for more than week. Moving around the country gets difficult as everyone is in a rush to board a plane, train or bus to visit their families. Most activities involve paying respect to temples and making offerings to ancestral altars. Tourists will notice the growing excitement just days before the festival as special dishes are cooked and flowers spring up everywhere. This is a great time to visit Hanoi if you don’t mind a little squeezing and bumping along the busy streets of the city.
- Lim – Men and women from the Lim Village found near Bac Ninh gather together in this annual singing festival. Participants alternate in harmonies as they make up lyrics and they go along the streets of the village.
- Pagoda Festival – Vietnamese flock to the Pagoda in Sai Son Village to watch colorful parades and performances of water puppets. Held every March of the year and located about 30 kilometers away from Hanoi, the water puppets are hugely popular for their comical depiction of everyday situations.
- Perfume Pagoda Festival – The Perfume Pagoda or Chua Huong is the country’s most important pilgrimage site, found 60 kilometers southwest of Hanoi. During March and April, the pagodas become crowded with flocks of Buddhist pilgrims that make the visit for the boat journey alone.
- Phat Dan – Known to be the most important religious festival of the year, Phat Dan celebrates the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha.
- Trang Nguyun – Second in importance only to the Tet festival, this August festival is dedicated to the souls of the departed. Most locals make offerings to their ancestors, many of whom were part of Vietminh or the League for the Independence of Vietnam. It is also a time where locals forgive those who have upset them.
- Mid-Autumn Festival – A day for giving presents such as banh trung thu, sticky rice cakes filled with lotus sees, nuts, eggs and dried fruit.
With the rich culture and festivals in Hanoi, it is not surprising to know that the people are always joyful to celebrate such colorful occasions. It is worth checking out which festivals will be taking place during your time of visit and to make a point of attending any of these celebrations of Hanoi.