Expressing reverence, maintaining ancient traditions, remembering dead heroes, commemorating important events, demonstrating sporting abilities, or simply entertaining the community, Vietnamese culture has a long tradition of colourful festivals.
Beyond the national events, listed below, many local festivals take place throughout the year around the country. These can feature puppet shows, folk songs, traditional music, local dances, wrestling, rowing, rice cooking, rope pulling, rope climbing, chess playing, cockfights, buffalo fights, and pigeon races.
January or February
Vietnamese and Chinese New Year- With a history that dates back thousands of years, the Tet festival was originally a celebration held by Vietnamese farmers to thank the gods for the arrival of spring, sometime between late January or early February. Although officially a three-day affair, festivities may continue for a week or more with every effort made to indulge in eating, drinking, and enjoyable social activities. It is also a time for family reunions, and for paying respect to ancestors and the elders. Gifts of food are made to friends, neighbors and relatives in the days before Tet.
Vietnam Festivals in March
Hai Ba Trung Day
On the 6th day of the 2nd lunar month the revolt of the Trung Sisters against the Chinese in 40 AD is celebrated.
Holiday of the Dead (Thanh Minh)
Homage is paid to deceased ancestors and relatives by making solemn visits to graves, with offerings of food, flowers, and incense. The graves are normally cleaned and tidied a few days prior.
Vietnam Events in April
Liberation Day of South Vietnam
The 30th of April marks the fall of Saigon in 1975, and the final victory of the North Vietnamese Army.
Vietnam Local Festivals in May
Summer Solstice Day (Doan Ngo)
Celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon when offerings are made to the spirit world and to ward off pestilence and disease.
Vietnam Festivals in August
Mid-Autumn or Children’s Moon Festival (Tet-Trung-Thu)
The essence of Tet-Trung-Thu – celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month – is to promote education, culture, music, sports, arts and crafts, and poetry. Beginning at noon and ending at midnight, the festival includes folklore displays, children’s games, lantern processions, performing shows, dances, martial arts demonstrations, arts and crafts exhibitions, food and drink booths, multicultural performances, essays, drawing and coloring contests. Delicacies include moon cakes, sticky rice, fruits and various sweets.
Day of All Wandering Souls (Trung Nguyen)
The spirits of the dead are believed to frequent the residence of their offspring on this day. Food is offered on house altars for the souls of the deceased, and fake paper money is burnt in their honour. There are also celebrations in Buddhist temples.
Vietnam Public Holidays
Jan 1: Western New Year’s Day
Feb 3: Founding Day of the Communist Party of Vietnam
Apr 30: Liberation Day of South Vietnam and Saigon
May 1: Labour Day
May 19: Ho Chi Minh’s birthday
May 28: Holiday in commemoration of the birth, the enlightenment and the death of the Buddha
Sep 2: National Holiday
Sep 3: Day to commemorate the death of Ho Chi Minh in 1969