Quan Lan festival takes place on the 18th day of the sixth lunar month in Dinh Wharf and Quan Lan Communal House, Quan Lan island, Quang Ninh Province.
Quan Lan festival is organized to commemorate the victory against the Mongol invaders in 1288, as well as the feats of Tran Khanh Du, a famous Tran General. They also pray for good “harvest” from the sea.
The main festival is held on the 18th day of the sixth lunar month. But the activity begins from the 10th day of the sixth lunar month, featuring the ritual of “closing the village”. That means the inhabitants of the village cannot leave from today. Therefore those who have moved away and other guests from any corner of the country are welcome.
The festivities of Quan Lan Festival are comprised of a traditional rowing competition. The villagers are divided into two teams. They establish their particular training grounds on the 13th day of the month in order to prepare themselves for the game. The boats used are ordinary 5 to 6 – tone fishing boats, with lowered sails and dragon – heads carved on the fronts.
The 16th day is reserved for receiving the genies. There is a procession for the funeral tablets of Tran Khanh Du from the temple to the village’s communal house.
On the 18th day at about 3 p.m (every year at this time the tide reaches the temple’s wharf), the boats start. The “soldiers” on one side wear a white jacket and blue pants, while the other group wears gray or black clothing. When the opposing generals meet each other at the communal house, the “soldiers” and spectators shout resoundingly; the noise echoes throughout the region. The two generals make sword – tracings in the air, and the two troops meet each other three times: symbolizing the three victories during the Tran Dynasty. Following the third meeting, they assemble before the shrine and the rowing contest begins.
Quan Lan Festival bears characteristics of traditional village festivals, but is particularly grandiose, expressing the military spirit of the Vietnamese in the struggle against foreign invaders.