Throughout Vietnam, and in most Oriental countries, you’ll find that different ethnic and cultural groups are constantly striving to maintain their individual identities. Because of this the people often use festivals to celebrate special cultural and historic events – festivals that bring the people together in unison at a time during which they can celebrate themselves and their rich heritages. The city of Hoi An in Vietnam is no different.
The city of Hoi An hosts seven main festivals throughout the year and anyone planning to travel to Hoi An should attempt to visit during one of these times. Festivals are not only fun but provide tourists with an up-close-and-personal opportunity to learn about local traditions, music, folk arts, crafts, and regular customs. So what festivals do the locals in Hoi An celebrate?
7. Goddess of the Seas Ceremony
The Goddess of the Seas Ceremony, also known as the Lady Thien Hau’s Ceremony, is held each year on the 23rd of March. This particular ceremony is usually observed by the Chinese population within Hoi An but the entire community tends to participate.
This particular ceremony is very important to the people of Hoi An because the goddess, Thien Hau Thanh, is responsible for protecting the fishing town and anyone involved in the fishing trade. The two part ceremony features a religious worship followed by a beautiful display including parades, music, dancing, and many other incredible activities designed to engage the community.
6. Long Chu Festival Hoi An
Held on the 15th day of the lunar month of July, the Long Chu Festival Hoi An is another incredibly important cultural event. The people of Hoi An hold the festival annually in an effort to protect the villages from evil and ghosts.
The festival is held in July, at the approach of the summer, because this is the time of year when plagues, epidemics, and other terrible afflictions tend to strike fishing villages. The Long chau Festival Hoi An features many religious events designed to help protect the village and its inhabitants from harm.
5. Marine Sports Festival
Don’t be fooled by the name of this event. The Marine Sports Festival is as much a religious festival as any other. Most of the activities that take place during this festival seem to be focused on water sports but there are significant historic and religious concerns to focus on as well.
The Marine Sports Festival Hoi An is held on the last Sunday of the 4th month of the Vietnamese lunar calendar (usually in May). Because this “sporting event’ is held so close to the Festival of Buddha’s Birthday the two tend to blend. In addition to sporting events participants will go to picnics honoring Buddha and participate in prayers for prosperity and peace.
4. Vu Lan Day
The Vu Lan Day festival is equivalent to what the Christians call All Souls Day. Legend has it that a young man by the name of Kien Muc Lein was enlightened and upon the death of his mother became concerned as she was forced to pass through the 18 gates of hell. He tried to send her food but the evil spirits set it on fire before she could eat it so Kien Muc Lien turned to Buddha for help.
Buddha told Kien Muc Lien to host the Vu Lan ceremony on an annual basis in order to seek forgiveness for the sins his mother had committed while on earth. Also referred to as “Wandering Souls Day,” those who participate usually light candles in the river to guide the lost souls while at the same time leaving food on an alter to help the souls alleviate their hunger pains. This festival is usually held during the 7th month of the lunar calendar.
3. Legendary Night Festival
Officially known as the Hoi An Full Moon Night, the Legendary Night Festival is a monthly ritual held to pay homage to the moon. During the festival the town reverts to all natural lighting. For one evening all electric lights are turned off and cars are not allowed to drive the roads.
During the festival the streets of Hoi An are decorated with beautiful paper lanterns as nostalgic participants read poetry and enjoy music. The best part about this festival is that you don’t have to visit during one specific time of year to witness it.
2. Lunar New Year
The Vietnamese lunar calendar is much different than the one Westerners follow. Even still, the Lunar New Year, which falls on the first day of the first lunar month, is an incredibly important tradition.
Hoi An residents spend the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year preparing food, decorating their homes, and purchasing new clothes. The festival itself lasts for a full seven days, during which the official three-day holiday is encompassed. Cultural displays, such as the Dragon Dance, Fournoble-animal dance, Unicorn dance, and many other musical performances are held throughout the festival.
1. Mid Autumn Festival
The Mid Autumn Festival is not actually held during the middle of the fall season but is instead held towards the beginning. The festival, geared mostly towards children, is considered to be a moon festival but is nothing like the Hoi An Full Moon Night held monthly.
The two-day Mid Autumn Festival is held on the 14th & 15th of the first month of fall. During the festival the people of Hoi An thank the moon for shining year round. The festival is filled with fun, games, entertainment and – most importantly – the exchange of moon-cakes.
All of Hoi An’s festivals are incredible sights to behold. Timing your trip so that you’re in town for at least one or two shouldn’t be difficult at all. Simply ask your Hoi An hotel concierge for help determining where the best places are to celebrate and then enjoy your experience as you absorb some of this incredible Vietnamese culture.
Hoi An’s Incredible Cultural Festivals – Blog Hotel Clubs