Top 5 Most Famous Spring Festivals in Vietnam

Top 5 Most Famous Spring Festivals in Vietnam

Rachel Tran Rachel Tran | Published Dec 11, 2020

Spring is the first season in a year, a starting moment of a new year. During that time, many spring festivals are held throughout Vietnam to welcome a new year with much luck. From the Northern to the Southern, in the rural area, every year, almost villages hold spring festivals as a long-standing culture tradition of Vietnamese people. They are not only simply yearly festivals but also occasions that people visit their neighbors, people away from home come back to reunite with families, meet relatives, and friends. 

Among them, there are some famous spring festivals that attract many people to choose as ideal spring traveling destinations to travel with families and friends. Let’s discover the following list of the most famous spring festivals in Vietnam and decide which to go for your upcoming spring vacation!

1. Huong Pagoda Festival (Perfume Pagoda Festival)

Huong Pagoda Festival - spring festivals in Vietnam

Although Buddhism is not Vietnam’s official religion, it still plays an important part in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people. The habit of visiting pagodas at the beginning of the year to pray for a lucky new year is one of the longest-standing customs of the Vietnamese that exist until now. When spring comes, many spring festivals are organized in Vietnam’s pagodas, in general, and in Hanoi, in particular. Of them, Huong Pagoda Festival is the most famous one in Hanoi. 

As one of the most famous oldest pagodas in Vietnam, Huong Pagoda is one of  Vietnam’s Buddhism centers in Vietnam from the fifteenth century. The pagoda is located in My Duc district, Hanoi, about 60 kilometers to the south from the center and surrounded by high limestone mountains. Not only is Huong pagoda famous for its sacredness but also for the beautiful natural landscape of the surrounding area.

After a thousand years, rainwater accumulated to create wetlands, streams, and small rivers there. It is the reason that so as to visit the whole pagodas in Huong Son including Huong pagoda, tourists have to move by boat. Rowing the boat to visit attractive destinations in Huong Son is a typical activity that attracts many tourists. Sitting on a boat and sightseeing the beauty of the nature of Huong Son will be an unforgettable memory for anyone who has a chance to come there once.

Huong Pagoda Festival starts from 6th January to the end of March according to Lunar Calendar. During this occasion, Buddhists from everywhere come to Huong Pagoda to go on a pilgrimage. Besides Buddhists, there are also many tourists coming there to pray for peace and a lucky new year. 

Owing to the feature of topographic that tourists and Buddhists have to travel by boat among destinations, it usually takes people much time to visit the whole pagodas there. For Buddhists, they spend at least 2 – 3 days visiting all of pagodas. For visitors, people usually choose one of three following journeys to visit within a day. Three journeys include Huong Tich route, Thanh Son – Huong Dai route, Tuyet Son route.

The most popular route is the Huong Tich route because it is the main route where tourists can visit the main pagoda – Huong Tich pagoda in Huong Son. In this route, visitors will visit Trinh Temple, Thien Tru Pagoda, Tien Son Cave, Giai Oan Pagoda, Tran Song Temple, Huong Tich Cave, and Hinh Bong Pagoda. In the past, people had to climb on foot to visit all of those destinations. The stairs were very steep and it was very exhausting. Now, there is a convenient cable car line connecting destinations; however, plenty of people especially Buddhists still choose to climb on foot to Huong Tich Pagoda and other sites. 

In the Thanh Son – Huong Dai route, people will visit Son Thuy Huu Tinh cave, Thanh Son pagoda, Huong Dai cave, Long Van pagoda, Cay Khe pagoda. In the Tuyet Son route, there are following destinations: Trinh temple, Tuyet Son pagoda, Bao Dai pagoda, Ngoc Long cave, Ca pagoda. All of them are beautiful sites with intact natural beauty after hundreds of years.

  • Location: Huong Son village, My Duc district, Hanoi
  • Opening time: from 6th January to the end of March in Lunar Calendar

2. Lim Festival

Lim Festival - spring festivals in Vietnam
Source: minchou

Lim Festival is the most famous biggest festival in Bac Ninh Province organized in Lim town, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province from 11th to 14th January according to the Lunar Calendar. Although the Lim festival is open from 11th to 14th January, the main day is on 13th January when there are most activities organized. 

In the past, Bac Ninh was a land of ancient stories and cultural tales, the hometown of Quan Ho songs – a common cultural asset of the Vietnamese nation. Because of this tradition, there are many folk festivals there. Of the festivals, Lim Festival is the most interesting one making a great impression on tourists who had an opportunity to participate once.

Lim Festival is a unique cultural and artistic activity of the long traditional culture. Originally, Lim Festival was only held separately in each village in Bac Ninh province at that time called Kinh Bac, then Lim Festival was first organized as a regional festival in the eighteenth century then rapidly became a famous spring festival from that time until now.

There are two parts in the Lim Festival including the ceremony and the assembly. The ceremony starts at 08:00 am on 13th January (Lunar Calendar) with the beginning of a procession. The procession extending to nearly a kilometer is crowded with a large number of people participating in wearing beautiful colorful extremely-fussy ancient clothes. 

The assembly is the funniest part of the Lim Festival. There are many folk games held such as martial arts, wrestling, chess matches, weaving competitions, cooking rice, and so on. Especially, the most interesting activity is the singing contest section among teams from villages in Bac Ninh. Teams will stand on boats in a lake, then boats are rowing close to each other and members in teams will sing in response. Judges on the bank will mark and select the best singing team. 

  • Location: Lim town, Tien Du district, Bac Ninh province
  • Opening time: from the 11th to 14th January according to Lunar Calendar

3. Yen Tu Festival

Yen Tu Festival - spring festivals in Vietnam

Yen Tu Festival is one of the biggest spring festivals in the Northern and one of the most important Buddhist festivals to Vietnamese people. The festival is organized to start from 10th January to March in the lunar calendar in Truc Lam Yen Tu Cultural Center, Thuong Yen Cong village, Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province. 

Yen Tu Pagoda is a complex of pagodas and temples located on Yen Tu mountain. Before Yen Tu Pagoda was built in the thirteenth century, Yen Tu Mountain was famous to be one of the most beautiful mountains in Vietnam. It was one of the highest mountains in Quang Ninh province with the majestic overview of the surroundings from the top. From the thirteenth century, this land was more well-known when becoming the main Buddhist center at that time.  

When Buddhism was introduced to Vietnam was not exactly determined by experts but it was probably as early as the second century B.C or as late as the second century A.D because the trace of the establishment of Mahanaya Buddhism in the second century was found in the Northern. However, the peak of the religion was in the Tran Dynasty and Hau Le Dynasty (from the thirteenth century). After leading winning in Nguyen Mong Invasion twice, Tran Nhan Tong Emperor – the third emperor of the Tran dynasty gave up the throne to his son Tran Anh Tong Emperor and returned to the palace of Vu Lam – Ninh Binh to be ordained as a monk before he officially went to Yen Tu mountain to decide to practice in 1299. Yen Tu Pagoda was the place to end the journey of spiritual practice, the path of religion, the teaching, and the rise of the Emperor Tran Nhan Tong, the holy place of Zen Buddhism.

During the festival, there are many Buddhist activities held such as preaching, praying,… and there are always crowded with Buddhists and tourists from everywhere to visit the pagoda at that time. The journey to visit the whole Yen Tu pagoda including visiting such following pagodas and temples from the feet to the top of Yen Tu mountain at the height of 1068 meters from sea level: Trinh Temple at the feet of Yen Tu Mountain next to Mo Stream, Giai Oan Pagoda lying on the back, Hoa Yen Pagoda at the height of 535 meters, Dong pagoda at the top of Yen Tu mountain – the highest top of Dong Trieu Bow-shaped range, and Truc Lam Yen Tu Zen Monastery where people can feel the wind, the fog, the sunshine and sightsee the majestic scenery of the below area. 

In the past, in order to visit the whole pagodas in Yen Tu Mountains, people had to climb thousands of stone steps on foot. It was really a hard test for many people’s power and a lot of them gave up before arriving Dong pagoda, the pagoda on the mountain top. Nowadays, Yen Tu Pagoda has been still built and enlarged with the development of Buddhism in Vietnam. With this, cable cars were installed to transport passengers from the feet to each pagoda on Yen Tu Mountain within 20 minutes at the cost of around 300.000 VND per person. There are two ways for tourists to get on cable cars corresponding to two ways to visit Yen Tu: one is the old route from Quang Ninh Province and the other is from Tay Yen Tu pagoda in Bac Giang province because Yen Tu Mountain is lying on the natural boundary of two provinces. Despite that, many people still choose to climb on foot to express their devotion to Buddhism.

  • Location: Thuong Yen Cong village, Uong Bi city, Quang Ninh province
  • Opening time: from 10th January to the end of March in Lunar Calendar 

4. Hung Kings’ Temple Festival

Hung Kings’ Temple Festival - spring festivals in Vietnam

Besides the habit of going to pagoda at the beginning of a year, ancestor worship practice is also one of the longest-standing customs of the Vietnamese at the beginning of a year. Eighteen Hung Kings were people who first founded the Van Lang government, the precursor of Vietnam today. According to legend, the first Hung King named Kinh Duong Vuong was the son of Lac Long Quan, ascended the throne in 2879 BC, codenamed Van Lang, divided the country into 15 sets, passed down to 258 BC when the eighteenth Hung King was robbed the country by Thuc Phan, a Chinese general. Also according to the legend, Vietnamese people are brothers with the same ancestors, Lac Long Quan and Au Co, so Hung Kings’ death anniversary is recognized to be a national holiday in Vietnam since 2007. 

Hung Kings’ Temple Festival is held every year from the 8th to the 11th days of March in the Lunar Calendar in honor of the Hung Kings and their role in shaping the nation. The main festival day is on the 10th day of the month. The official name of the festival is “Death Anniversary of the Hung Kings”. Hung Kings ruled an area called Van Lang covering what is now North Vietnam and part of southern China and it was the first nation of Vietnamese people. Along the time of ruling over Vietnam for 18 generations, Hung Kings taught locals how to grow wet rice. 

The festival takes place at Hung Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phu Tho Province about 85 kilometers northwest of Hanoi. Every year, around five million visitors travel to Hung Temple to join in the festival. A procession starts at the foot of the mountain and stops at every temple on the way to the highest temple.

The procession will start at the entrance which was built in 1917, the second year of Khai Dinh (Nguyen Dynasty). Sequentially, the procession will go past Ha Temple, Stele House, Thien Quang Pagoda, Trung Temple – Hung Vuong Temple, Thuong Temple, Hung Vuong’s Mausoleum, Well Temple. Besides the ceremony, the assembly of Hung Kings’ Temple Festival contains many exciting folk games held to describe the life of people in Hung King’s era. 

  • Location: Lac Hong village, Hy Cuong district, Viet Tri city, Phu Tho province 
  • Opening time: from 8th to 11th March in the Lunar Calendar.

5. Ba Den Mountain Festival – Tay Ninh

Ba Den mountain festival - Vietnam spring festivals

Ba Den Mountain Festival is one of the most renowned biggest sacred spring festivals for people in the Northern, usually organized from the 18th, 19th to the end of Lunar January with traditional revolutionary events and festivals, along with religious activities. 

Ba Den Mountain (Black Lady) belongs to Thach Tan village, Hoa Thach district, Tay Ninh city, Tay Ninh province, about 11 kilometers northwest from the center of the city. The main worshiping spirit on the mountain is Ba Den, also known as Linh Son Thanh Mau. She was worshiped in Dien Ba in the middle of the mountain.

From the foot of the mountain, pilgrims have to walk and climb mountains. Arriving in the middle of the mountain, people will come to Linh Son Temple and take a rest before continuing climbing a mountain trail to worship the temple. Also there, the temple invites guests to have vegetarian meals and then donate money to the temple. It is not compulsory, tourists can donate or not, more or less depending on the mind. Even when guests would like to stay for one or two days, the temple will be warmly welcomed since in a religious place, money does not mean and devotees are the same. 

A little higher up, near the top of the mountain is Mieu Son Than. Stop here, visitors feel the clouds are still flying under their feet, the wind is blowing very close to them, and even the fog in the early morning. From there, visitors can see the entire overview of Dau Tieng lake – the largest artificial lake in Southeast Asia, a beautiful and large irrigation project in Vietnam. 

For recent years, everywhen spring comes, the number of people in the Northern coming to Ba Den Mountain Festival has been as crowded as running water. People believe that the Ba Den Temple is very sacred and more and more people come there to pray for blessing, their wish to come true, to release spiritual needs, or simply is an occasion to travel to admire the majestic scenery of Ba Den Mountain.

  • Location: Thach Tan village, Hoa Thach district, Tay Ninh city, Tay Ninh province
  • Opening time: From 18th, 19th to the end of Lunar January 

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