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Lantern festival in Hoian- thing you should not miss

September 11, 2020 - 468 views

Hoian is a city full of lanterns. Lantern is everywhere in Hoian. There is even a festival called Hoian Lantern festival. It is the time when you see the lantern lighted up and float along the river. Being in Hoian during that time is one of the best things you should never miss. The below article is about this colorful festival.

Releasing lantern on Hoai river in Hoian

Releasing lantern on Hoai river in Hoian


Hoi An Lantern Festival

Lantern is believed to first appear in Hoian during the 16th and 17th centuries when Hoian was an important trading port in Asia. The city was full of merchants from around the world, including the Japanese who brought with them various-shaped lanterns and hang in front of their homes. Following the Japanese, a few Hoian people hang these lanterns in front of their homes, hoping them bring good luck.

A few generations later, lanterns reached every house in Hoian, they became a common decoration feature in each house in Hoian. In 1998, the first lantern festival was held in Hoian. During the past 22 years, Hoian ancient town becomes more glamorous in the light of the lanterns every 14th day in the lunar month when the moon is at its fullest and brightest. Local people believe that is an important time to worship deceased relatives in each family in Vietnam. Therefore, they present offerings such as food, drinks, flowers, and fake money, and wish for good luck and future prosperity for their family. Nowadays, Hoian lantern festival now attracts a large number of both Vietnamese and international travelers to participate in each month.

How is the Hoi An Lantern Festival celebrated?

Hoian Lantern festival is held every 14th day in a lunar month. On these days, a lot of lanterns in different colors, shapes are lit with candles, then placed on the Thu Bon river. At 20:00 all the fluorescent lights are turned off, so you can see a magical glow from the lanterns along the river.

Besides lanterns lighting, there are some performances held along the river with music. They are lion dances, carnivals, chanteys, bamboo flutes, drums, and fiddles, or poetry readings. On this occasion, you can also see some traditional games like Bai Choi, board games, Chinese chess, O an quan (Mandarin square capturing), Tug of war, etc. The lantern releasing into the river ends around 22:00-23:00. On some special occasions like the Mid-Autumn festival or tet holiday, tourists can enjoy art lantern decoration competitions or fireworks.

What to do in Hoian lantern festival

Walk along the colorful lanterns street

Hoian ancient town is beautiful all time during the year, and it is even more charming during the lantern festival. Walking along the street with old houses lit up on the two sides of Hoai river during the lantern festival is one of the most memorial experiences you would never forget. The city is full of tourists during the festival, but it still remains its rhythm of life. Thousands of lanterns of all shapes and colors make you thoroughly enchanted, so take photos to keep unforgettable moments in this city.

Release the lantern in Hoai Cau River

An exciting activity to enjoy during the festival is releasing the lantern in Hoai Cau River. A lot of local people believe releasing flower lanterns into the river is means praying for the deceased, it also brings good fortune, love, as well as health and happiness. Therefore, try it one time if you are in Hoian during the lantern festival. A flower lantern only costs 25 to 50 cents. You can buy the lantern, lit it up with a candle, wish for the luck, and release into the river. For a romantic experience, step down to Bach Dang wharf, get on a boat along the river. There, you can release the lantern into the river, watch the flower lanterns floating, have a peaceful feeling.

Enjoy Traditional Shows & Games

During the lantern festival, the locals organize activities like music performance, chess competitions, folk games, play card games, masquerade dances, lion dance, folk singing, regular Vietnamese martial performance, and magic street performance, etc. You can watch these performances by local people or take part in interesting games here. For example, Bai Choi is something similar to Bingo where you need to pay some money to buy some card. If you are the winner, you will get a gift. That would be a great experience.

Bai Choi

Bai Choi- a traditional game in lantern festival in Hoian

Try Hoian specialties

Hoian lantern festival is an ideal place to try Hoian specialties like Quang noodles, Phuong bread, Cao Lau (a famous Hoi An dish with rice noodles, pork, and fresh vegetables), Banh Bao (steamed dumplings filled with pork, mushrooms, and other goodies), Banh Xoai (mango cake), Xi Ma (a unique black sesame pudding). Street stalls in the night market or small restaurants are full of these delicious dishes. If you are looking for a better choice, come to restaurants along Hoai river. They have tasty food, music, and a stunning view overlooking Hoai river. Local people often eat vegetarian dishes as well as “moon cakes”, filled with sweet red bean paste on this day. It is worth trying them as well.

M Quang

Mi Quang- one of the best food in Hoian

Where does the Lantern Festival happen?

Hoi An Lantern Festival takes place in the Hoi An Old Town area where colorful candlelit lanterns are. Other activities are around the river, the Japanese Bridge, or An Hoi bridge. You can walk there if you live in Hoian city center or take a taxi into the center, which is about 10 minutes if you live in the area near the beach. The festival also takes place in the various pagodas in the city.

When is Hoian lantern festival?

2021 Hoian Lantern Festival dates

January 26th, February 25th, March 26th, April 25th, May 25th, June 23rd, July 23rd, August 21st, September 20th, October 19th, November 18th, and December 17th.

2022 Hoian Lantern Festival dates

January 16th, February 14th, March 16th, April 14th, May 14th, June 12th, July 12th, August 11th, September 9th, October 9th, November 7th, and December 7th.

Useful tips

  • Use a wrist strap on your camera to avoid dropping your camera into the river when taking photos near the river
  • The biggest lantern festival which is lunar new year often takes place in Feb, so do not miss it when you are in Hoian
  • Come to the festival early to get a good spot because the festival is very crowded
  • Using sampan to ride on the river is a good way to watch the festivities away from the crowd
  • Wear a comfortable pair of shoes to walk around the ancient town

Hope that the above information is helpful for your trip to Hoian. If you want our help with any information about Hoian, just contact us.

Jenny Tran

(Image sources: Internet)


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