It is often said that the first month of the lunar calendar in Vietnam is the month of celebrations. There is a myriad of cultural, historical and religious events to be held after the Tet Lunar New Year holiday.
Official statistics showed that every year, more than 7,300 festivals take place around Vietnam, with most happening in spring.Here are some of the most famous festivals.
Huong Pagoda Festival in Hanoi
Huong (Perfume) Pagoda, located in Hanoi’s suburban My Duc District, is a vast complex of temples and shrines built into the Huong Tich mountain system in the 17th century. The annual three-month festival here is the longest and biggest Buddhist festival in the country, attracting thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year.
The festival takes place from the 6th day of the first lunar month to the end of the third month.
Visitors will have a chance to join Buddhist rites and enjoy the beautiful landscape around the pagoda on a boat tour. They can also partake in rowing, mountain climbing and singing contests.
Lim Festival in Bac Ninh Province
On the 13th day of the first lunar month (February 20 this year), people flock to this festival in Tien Du District, Bac Ninh Province to enjoy the sweet melodies of quan ho (traditional love duet). Quan ho folk songs were recognized by the UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage in 2009.
Many solemn rites are held in the communal houses that draws a large number of locals and tourists annually. The festival also features various folk games and a singing contest.
Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh Province
Another popular religious destination during the Tet holiday season is Yen Tu Mountain, one of Vietnam's major Buddhism centers, in the northern province of Quang Ninh.Yen Tu Festival starts on the 10th day of the Lunar New Year and ends at the end of the third lunar month.
When people make their way to the top of Yen Tu, either on foot or by cable cars, they can stop by the Thac Vang and Thac Bac ecotourism areas.
Dong Da Mound Festival in Hanoi
Dong Da Mound Festival takes place annually on the 5th day of the first lunar month, in memory of King Quang Trung who defeated Chinese invaders.
Around 1851, the inhabitants of two villages Nam Dong and Thinh Quang built a pagoda, Dong Quang Pagoda, in front of the mound. From then on, Dong Quang Pagoda organized an annual religious ceremony to commemorate the king's Dong Da Battle on the 5th day of the Lunar New Year.
People gather, reenact the battle and finish with a triumphant march into Thang Long Citadel.
Giong Festival in Hanoi
This festival is celebrated at many places in Hanoi, with the two most famous versions held at Phu Dong Temple in Gia Lam District and Soc Temple in Soc Son District.
The festival honors Saint Giong, a mythical folk hero and one of Vietnam's Four Immortals. Legend has it that the boy Giong grew into a giant hero, riding on an iron horse to defeat invaders.
On the 6th day of the first lunar month, the festival begins with traditional rituals. It usually lasts in three days.
Co Loa Citadel Festival in Hanoi
Co Loa Citadel Festival is held from 6th to 16th day of the first lunar month at Den Thuong (Upper Temple) in present-day Dong Anh District, which worships King An Duong Vuong, who ruled over the kingdom of Au Lac (now Vietnam) from 257 to 207 BC.
Apart from holy rites, the festival features folk games including wrestling and crossbow shooting and singing contests.
Tran Temple Festival in Nam Dinh Province
This festival is one of the largest annual spring festivals in Vietnam. It takes place from the 13th to the 16th of the first lunar month at the national historical complex of Tran Kings' shrines and tombs in Nam Dinh’s Hung Ha District.
Each year, people flock to the main ceremony on the 14th night to pray for gook luck and happiness.
The festival also features a water procession, lion and dragon dances, folk singing, human chess, wrestling and martial arts performances.
Ba Chua Kho Festival in Bac Ninh Province
This festival takes place at Ba Chua Kho Temple, which worships Ba Chua Kho (Lady of the Storehouse) – a goddess in a Vietnamese folk religion.
Opening on the 14th day of the first lunar month, the festival attracts huge crowds, especially traders, who believe it brings good luck and prosperity.
The festival features a symbolic ceremony of incense offering and money borrowing to pray for prosperity.
Cau Ngu Festival in Hue City
Cau Ngu means fish worshipping. The festival is held on the 12th of the first lunar month in Thai Duong Ha Village in Hue to commemorate the village’s tutelary god Truong Quy Cong, who taught villagers to fish and sell fishing equipment.
During the festival, villagers took part in a net casting ceremony and a rowing contest.
Ba Den Temple Festival in Tay Ninh Province
The annual spring festival on Mount Ba Den in the southern province of Tay Ninh takes place from the 10th to 15th of the first lunar month.
Ba Den (Black Lady) is said to be the highest mountain in the southern region, at 886 meters above sea level.
The festival attracts hundreds of thousand of devotees and tourists every year. Cable cars take them from the foot of the mountain to the middle, where Ba Den Temple is located. The pagoda offers vegetarian meals to visitors.