Each year,Vietnam has about 9,000 local and national festivals spread throughout the country. Most of festivals take place in the north of Viet nam and on the Lunar January, after Tet Holiday.
These are 10 most interesting festivals in the northern Vietnam on Lunar January that you should not ignore. However, during the festivals, these areas are very crowded and noisy. Therefore, if you would like to go for sightseeing and study further about these places, you are advised not to travel at this time.
1. Huong (Perfume) Pagoda Festival
This is the biggest and longest festival in the north of Vietnamafter the Tet Holiday. Huong Pagoda Festival begins on the sixth day of Tet Holiday (the 6th day of the 1st lunar month) and last until the end of the 3rd month. More than a million visitors from all over Vietnam attend Chua Huong or Perfume Pagoda Festival every year.
The festival will impress with a wide range of activities, exhibitions and spectacle. Go to Huong Pagoda Festival, visitors can enjoy a photography exhibition of ancient Vietnamese Pagodas and watch birds being released on the picturesque Yen Spring.
Sightseeing trips to pagodas, temples and caves are among the other attractions of the festival, as well as ceremonies to ask favors from Buddha. After the opening ceremony, tourists and pilgrims can go on three main tours to visit the Huong Tich Cave Pagoda, Long Van Pagoda and Tuyet Son Pagoda.
2. Yen Tu Festival in Quang Ninh
The mountainous region of Yen Tu has been a center of Buddhism for many centuries. It is also the starting point of the Buddhist sect of Truc Lam. The beauty of Yen Tu consists in the majesty of its mountains mingling with the ancient and solemn quietness of its pagodas, shrines and towers.
Yen Tu festivities begin on the ninth day of the 1st lunar month and last until the end of the 3rd month. The route of the pilgrimage from the foot of the mountain to the pagoda is nearly 30 km. In the wide ensemble of vestiges in Yen Tu, there are 11 pagodas and close to 100 shrines and towers. The highest point of Yen Tu is Bronze Pagoda, which is located 1,068 m above sea level.
One form of entertainment is to climb the peak to where the Bronze Pagoda was built. On the way you’ll see pagodas, a tower, a stream and a forest. At the top, after having burned joss-sticks, you will seem to be lost in nature somewhere between the sky and the earth. When clear you can perceive almost all of the north-east area from here.
There is a popular saying about Yen Tu: “Even after 100 years of virtuous religious life, if you don’t come to Yen Tu you can not be called a true religious person”.
The way to Bronze Pagoda
3. Lim Festival in Bac Ninh
The Lim Festival is one of the biggest festivals of Bac Ninh province. It takes place on the 13th day of the first lunar month inLimVillage, about 18kms fromHanoi.
This is the most well-known of the festivals inVietnamwhen the famous folk song Quan Ho is performed. Quan Ho is a dialogue performance between male singers (lien anh) and female singers (lien chi). There are strict rules for this dialogue performance and the singers must not only be quick witted but also should have strong grasp of traditional tunes and history and culture of these songs.
Lim Festival is also a time for weaving competition and traditional temple games such as water puppetry, human chess, lion dances, swinging, wrestling, and cock-fighting… Besides, Lim Festival also goes through rituals of procession to the worshipping ceremony and worshipping.
4. Giong (Soc Son) Temple Festival
Giong Temple Festival begins on the 6th day of the first lunar month each year. It is organized inSocSonTemple, Phu Linh Commune, Soc Son District,Hanoi where dedicated to Saint Giong (Phu Dong Thien Vuong).
The legend says that defeating the An invaders, the hero Giong galloped to the top of Soc Mountain, then hanged his suit of armor on a scandal-wood tree, and vanished into the sky with his iron horse.
The festival lasts for 3 days with full traditional ceremony such as: Moc Duc ceremony, the Bamboo flowers procession, the Elephant procession, the Betel plant procession, the Paper boat rituals, and the beheading of the enemy commander. Currently, the relic includes:TrinhTemple, Mau (Mother)Temple, Dai Bi Pagoda,ThuongTemple, Saint Giong monument, Non Nuoc Pagoda and stone steles that record the history and the festivals ofSocSonTemple.
During the festival, there are other traditional games such as Chinese chess, human chess, cock fighting… and art performances of villagers as traditional opera – Cheo or Quan Ho…
Saint Giong with his iron horse
5. Mo Mat (Face Opening) Festival in Hai Phong
Mo Mat Festival (that means face opening festival) is organized from the 6th to 10th day of the first lunar month in Phuc Le Commune, Thuy Nguyen District, Hai Phong.
According to legend, the girls of Phuc Le village were famous for their beauty but they veiled their face with the black square scarf. Even when married, many of them still did not unveil. The festival is the days for girls at beauty contests, acting as human chess girls, cooking and weaving competition. Unveiling the shawls, smooth white faces with pink lips as pomegranate flower appear, making festival more passionately and exciting.
Communes of Phuc Le and Pha Le (Thuy Nguyen district) are also considered motherland of Hat Dum in Hai Phong. ‘Hat Dum’, a kind of folk song simultaneously exchanged between two groups of singers – men and women, is very abundant in melody: Trong Quan (Army drum), Co La (waving stork), Sa mac (desert), Ly giao duyen. In the festival, when the women’s side immediately passes a song and the men’s side is late in the response, the men’s side is regarded as loser.
6. Keo Pagoda Festival
Keo Pagoda is situated in Duy Nhat Commune, Vu Thu District,Thai Binh Province. This is one of the most famous ancient pagodas inVietnam. Keo pagoda’s campanile is an unique work of art that made of wood.
Keo Pagoda dedicated to Khong Lo Bonze who cured for King Ly Thanh Tong. The Keo Pagoda Festival is organized on the 4th day of the first lunar month. The festival attracts many local people as well as tourists each year.
In addition to the ceremony, there are many entertainment contests associated with the activities of the agricultural population such as catching ducks, cooking and throwing firecrackers.
Keo pagoda’s campanile (Bell-tower)
7. Buffalo-fighting festival in Vinh Phuc
Every year, the Buffalo-fighting festival is celebrated in Hai Luu Commune. Lap Thach District,VinhPhucProvince. This interesting festival takes place in two days the 16th and the 17th of the first lunar month and it attracts thousands of people to the festival.
Traditionally meeting held on 17 January (lunar calendar). The night before the festival is the ceremony The Royal village, the commune does not sleep that night, after the solemn ceremony The village drinking, singing, and discuss doing business in the new year, and prepare to dig fighting buffaloes the next day.
The buffalo in the battle is always fighting each other by way of face horn and health to choose martial attack the enemy, whether he wins or loses never attack each other buffalo from the back or ribs.
8. Vi Khe Flower festival
Located along theRed Riverdike, Vi Khe village is considered to be ancestral land of floriculture and ornamental plants. As a rule, from 12th to 16th on January (lunar calendar) every year, the temple which worship god village and ancestral village Vi Khe, organized flowers – plants festival.
According to legend, floriculture, ornamental plants in Vi Khe village from the thirteenth century (1211) by Ton Trung Tu taught. Finding this good area, residential hard, he taught local people planting flowers and ornamental plants. Nearly 800 years have passed with so many events but the flower villages Vi Khe still exist and develop. Every year, Vi Khe Flower Festival is organized to remember and honor the merits of vocational ancestor To Trung Tu – who taught floriculture plants for local people.
In addition to the ceremony, the festival has many entertainment activities including: display unique flowers and plants; perform folk songs, playing traditional games such as: Chinese chess, human chess, cock fighting, tug of war… Especially, at the festival, there is also hold a creating-bonsai contest that attracts many visitors.
9. Xoan Festival
Xoan Festival is organized in Huong Nha village, Tam Thanh District, Phu Tho province from the 7th to the 10th of the first lunar month. The festival aims to dedicate Xuan Nuong – a talented woman general of Hai Ba Trung and praise the work of Hung Kings.
During the festival days, many performances will be held to serve travelers. The Festival also holds the Xoan singing contest – a cultural and artistic character of the land group.
Start of the festival is the traditional vegetarian party respectfully offering to Hung Kings with yam and honey. The 10th January (lunar calendar) conjurer the village crafts at the alluvial ground in front of the village temple. The role of plowing, harrowing, sowing, bailing water, selling silkworm and cotton is very attractive.
10. Ba Chua Kho Temple Festival
Ba Chua Kho Temple Festival is held on 14th day of the first lunar month in Co Me Village, Vu Ninh Commune, Bac Ninh City, Bac Ninh Province, is delicated to Ba Chua Kho (The Queen of Stock), four gods: Thien phu, Dia phu, Thuy phu, and Nhac phu.
It is said that Lady Chua Kho was a hard working woman. After marrying the king of Ly Dynasty, she asked for going to Vu Ninh area, recruited villagers for establishing village, expanded the wasteland, organized production in 72 small villages. She also kept an eye on the food stock, maintained military provisions well during and after the victory of Song invaders in Nhu Nguyet Rive (CauRiver) in 1076. When she died, people built a temple to dedicate to her.
Annually, the temple attracts a great number of people from the whole country to worship and pray for good fortune and borrow money from her in working of the whole year.