Best Festivals, Parades and Events in Hanoi
Arguably one of the most culturally diverse and rapidly developing cities in all of Southeast Asia, Hanoi has remained beautifully unscathed despite its tumultuous recent history. A unique blend of Vietnamese, Chinese and French influences, Hanoi has flourished over the past 20 years, thanks in great part to the city’s booming tourist industry.
Many tourists flock to Hanoi each year to visit some of the area's most well-known festivals, events and parades. If you're ready to enjoy Hanoi, here are just a few of the best events to discover on your next trip.
Otherwise known as the Vietnamese New Year, Tet is the biggest celebration in Hanoi and across the country. Celebrated on the same day as the Chinese New Year, Tet is a festival intended to honor the coming of spring, and the blowout begins on the lunar calender’s first day, which generally falls anywhere between late January and earl -February.
Preparations for Tet, however, begin several weeks in advance. Families can be seen frantically decorating, cleaning and preparing feasts to enjoy throughout the three-day celebration. From parades and fireworks displays to massive meals and dances, there is no shortage of amazing things to see and experience during the Vietnamese New Year.
2. Keo Pagoda Festival
If you're ready to leave the city for a few days, consider heading to the coastal Thai Binh province to enjoy the Keo Pagoda Festival. Held annually to honour the Buddhist Monk Duong Khong Lo, the Keo Pagoda Festival is a three-day celebration filled with food, religious ceremonies and amazing sights.
From the 13th to the 15th of the ninth lunar month every year, thousands flock to the Keo Pagoda to honour this monk who began his humble life as a fisherman. According to documentation, Duong Khong Lo was a teacher, scholar and healer of the King Ly Thanh Tong. If you cannot pull yourself away from your Hanoi hotel suite for too long, consider visiting the festival on the second day and watch the procession that features an ornate carriage followed by 42 classically dressed men carrying bat but luu bo, a traditional weapon of the area.
3. Le Mat Festival
Approximately seven kilometres outside Hanoi's city centre you'll find the little, unassuming hamlet of Le Mat in the village of Viet Hung. What you probably don't realize is that this quaint hamlet is actually well-known for both snake breeding and catching, a tradition that dates back almost 900 years.
Around the 20th of March every year, the citizens of Le Mat hold a festival honouring their patron saint, who according to the locals is the man who established the hamlet several centuries ago. According to legend, the area now called Le Mat was once a barren wasteland that, after years of hard work by the locals, was transformed into a major farming community.
The Le Mat Festival might not feature the pomp and circumstance associated with Tet, but it is a great way to teach children about the importance of honouring their ancestors and the land.
4. Chem Temple Festival
Traditionally held every May, the Chem Temple Festival is one of the most historically significant events for the Vietnamese people. The festival is held in honour of Ly Ong Trong, a hero who helped fend off the invading Mongol hordes during the Hung King's reign.
The festival features a number of religious rituals, including a grandiose water procession and ceremonial washings of statues intended to honour several figures including the Buddha.
Of note is the procession of the funeral oration, which takes places just as the sun sets. The road used for the procession is beautifully decorated with rows of incense burners, which leave behind an aroma of sandalwood.