Once you have arrived there will be plenty to keep you busy, but depending on the time of year, here are a few events taking place…
Winter (November – April)
Thay Pagoda Festival
Held in the picturesque location of Thay Pagoada in the shadows of the Sai Son Mountain in Quoc Oai, this annual event pays homage to Tu Dao Hanh. Legend has it that Tu Dao Hanh was a Buddhist monk and sorcerer who was the king of the region and created the Vietnamese water puppet show. The celebrations begin by worshipping Buddha which is followed by games and a water puppet show in front of the Thuy Dinh or Temple. Visitors to the festival also usually take a hiking trip through the picturesque countryside which characterizes the region.
This public holiday commemorates the day the troops of north Vietnam liberated Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) in south Vietnam in 1975, ending the long-running Vietnam War and starting the process of reunification which took place the following year. Celebrations take place across Hanoi, with many people taking to the streets, including parades, local festivals, performances and firework displays.
Vietnam International Film Festival
The first Vietnam International Film Festival was held in October 2010 as part of the celebrations to celebrate Hanoi’s 1,000th birthday. The festival showcases contemporary Vietnamese and, in particular, South East Asian film and world cinema including drama, action, comedy and animation. In addition, there are competitions for feature films, documentaries and short films.
Tet (Vietnamese New Year) is the most important celebration for the Vietnamese when families get together. The celebrations start seven days before, when offerings are made and houses are decorated with kumquat trees or branches of peach blossom. At midnight, everybody makes as much noise as possible to welcome the New Year.
Summer (May – October)
International circus festival
Jugglers, trapeze artists, animal acts and clowns from around the country and from destinations such as Cuba, China, Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Laos and Cambodia travel to Hanoi to entertain and go up against each other in a competition judged by an eminent panel of international artistes.
National Day – September
This date celebrates two important anniversaries, the Declaration of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and the death of Ho Chi Minh. The celebrations in Hanoi, including a fireworks display, take place in Ba Dinh Square in front of Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, and it seems that the whole of Hanoi takes to the streets, particularly around Hoan Kiem Lake.
Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival
An important social occasion for the villages of the region, the preparations for the annual Do Son Buffalo Fighting Festival begin months before when the competing buffalos are selected and then methodically trained up for the big event. Excitement and anticipation builds to fever pitch and explodes in a riot of noise and colour on the day of the festival. The chosen bulls are adorned in red cloth and are led to the bull ring followed by a procession of people playing musical instruments and beating out a rhythm on drums. The matches vary in length from just a few minutes to an hour or more – the length depending on the strength and stamina of the bulls. The bulls fight in knockout heats until the eventual victor is crowned.
Mid- Autumn Festival
Also known as the Moon Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam is an important children’s festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month to mark the end of the harvest. In Hanoi, there are parades with children carrying candlelit lanterns, dragon or lion dances. The traditional food of the festival is the moon cake which contains a variety of fillings and an egg yolk to represent the moon.