Hoi An Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is amongst the best times to visit Hoi An. In which, visitors will immerse themselves in a shimmering world of uncounted lantern lights. When the crowds fill the streets, many outdoor activities are held to make the town’s life full of life. On the river, boats and lighting candle lanterns are moving on the waters, allowing the attendees to take so many nice pictures. More than anytime of the whole month, the energy of the town is high like in this festive evening. Romantic scenes, delicious street foods, so many things to buy and photograph definitely make your experience at night never wrong. Now, for further details, we outline a comprehensive article about the Hoi An Lantern Festival.

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Table of content

What is the Hoi An Lantern Festival?

Hoi An Lantern Festival (Hoi An Full Moon Festival, Lantern Full Moon Festival or Light Festival) is a monthly celebration taking place in the Hoi An Old Town. In the full moon light, uncountable lanterns are lit up by candles in all streets and many of them are dropped down the river nearby. Visitors also see the lantern varying in size, shape, color and material, and many open-air activities. The scene is full of life, full of energy and mesmerizing. This best-known festival is among the nicest times to visit Hoi An. 


Hoi An Lantern Festival Times

When is Hoi An Lantern Festival?

Hoi An Lantern Festival is held on the 14th day of each lunar month, in Vietnamese traditional calendar. This calendar is based on the monthly cycle of the Moon’s phases and used in the country over centuries. The 14th day is called “ngay ram” by locals. At the time, offspring like fresh fruits, cakes and incense sticks are given to the ancestors or Gods in the temples. It has a sacred significance.

The festival begins around the disappearance of the sun until 10 p.m. If you expect to see the best scenes, should come to the Old town after 7.

Hoi An Lantern Festival Dates 2022

Lunar days can be checked in online calendars or by local people, but in order to save time for visitors, we make a table indicating the exact Full-moon day for each month. Tet Nguyen Tieu (or the First Full Moon Festival) is in the second month, and Tet Trung Thu (or Mid-autumn Festival) is in the eighth month. Both celebrations provide the chance to see the Lantern night at its best beauty. Especially, in the second celebration, traditional dances are performed and childrens with masks on their faces are on the street.

The first month16th January 2022The seventh month12nd July 2022
The second month14th February 2022The eighth month11st August 2022
The third month16th March 2022The ninth month9th September 2022
The fourth month14th April 2022The tenth month9th October 2022
The fifth month14th May 2022The eleventh month7th November 2022
The sixth month14th June 2022The twelfth month7th December 2022

Hoi An Lantern Festival Dates 2023

In 2023, the Lantern Festival is celebrated at the beginning or last of the month. From the first to 7th months, check out the early days to know, and from 8th month to the end of year, the festival may occur on a late day. The First Full Moon and Mid-Autumn Festivals are two biggest, in 5th January and 29th August.

The first month5th January 2022The seventh month1st July 2022
The second month4th February 2022The eighth month29th August 2022
The third month5th March 2022The ninth month28th September 2022
The fourth month4th April 2022The tenth month28th October 2022
The fifth month3rd May 2022The eleventh month26th November 2022
The sixth month1st June 2022The twelfth month26th December 2022

Special Hoi An Lantern Festivals

Tet Nguyen Tieu (First Full Moon Festival)

The First Full Moon Festival originates from Chinese culture, in the Western Han dynasty, around 200 BC. Up to date, there are some stories to explain why it’s celebrated and passed down from generation to generation. The most popular shared story is about the swan of the God of Heaven. It descends to the Earth and is killed by a hunter then. After knowing that it doesn’t live anymore, the owner gets very angry and asks to burn everything on the ground. However, thanks to his super ability, a man tells people the deadly event that is going to happen. He instructs to hang up red lanterns to make the houses look like they are burning. Since then, Chinese temples and assembly halls are decorated by red lanterns in the first full moon of the year. Ceremonies to pray for prosperity and peacefulness also occur, from 10 to 11 a.m (the best time).

Tet Trung Thu (Mid-Autumn Festival)

Mid-Autumn Festival is held in the brightest full moon of the year, the eighth month. It’s known as the Reunion Festival or Children Festival in Vietnamese culture. In this event, people make baked and unbaked rice cakes, a tray of 5 kinds of fruit, incense sticks and some others, to give to the ancestors. The cake’s shape is a circle, representing the perfection and reunion of all members in the family. Moreover, childrens often wear masks and hold star lanterns on hands, and make teams to perform the lion dance. Parents take their beloved little ones to the streets for watching and entertaining.

Not only a night, Mid-Autumn Festival occurs several nights before the full moon. Lion and dragon dances are performed on the streets. 

Hoi An Lantern Festival History

Lanterns started their history in 16th century when Chinese from South China provinces moved to Hoi An. They landed to find the opportunities in business and reside for a long time. There are five communities of Chinese (Hoa people) up to date. Not just how to make it, the migrants also introduce their lantern culture to the new home, including lighting up the lanterns in the Full moon night. Lantern making craft now is still alive, and passed down from generation to the next.

On the other hand, Vietnamese people light up the lanterns when the moon is brightest as well. The tradition is strongly linked to Buddhism which deeply influences the country before any religions. The locals pray for themselves and beloved persons, about health, richness, fortune, career, childrens, and more. From this coincidence, since then, the Full Moon has been held monthly and became a part of the town’s life.

Lanterns, especially red lanterns, are thought of as an object bringing luck and happiness to the family owner of the house. In the festival times, people always hang up lanterns in the entrance and in the interior, and light them in the evening. Globe-shaped one means perfection and reunion (like the full moon), so it has become a popular choice.

For Vietnamese, the Full moon has special meanings, for both Buddhism followers and non-followers. They light up the lantern and drop down to the river, to pray for good things to themselves and beloved persons. Especially, in the 7th full moon, the festival focuses on dead family members and wandering souls who deserve to be remembered and cared for. Buddhists see the day as the day of Buddha and many ceremonies and chanting are celebrated.

Highlights of Hoi An Lantern Festival

Lantern Lit Streets

Every single night, streets in Hoi An Old Town draw plenty of pedestrians who come to enjoy mesmerizing scenes of colorful lanterns. In the full moon, all venues within the town hang up more lanterns outside, making things before the eyes really outstanding. In the nearby canal, an incredible mix of golden light reflection, shimmering candle lanterns on the water and lanterns in the boat, will be seen. This amazes most romantic souls, one of the most iconic memories in Hoi An. Visitor’s experience is definitely unforgettable.

Lantern Boat Ride

Not only roaming around the lantern-lit streets, visitors love viewing lovely and lightful scenes of Hoi An from a boat. It’s easy to find one or even don’t even need to search, many locals are invited to get their own boat while walking along the riverfronts. An affordable price for 30 minutes is from 100,000 to 200,000 VND, or from 40,000 to 80,000 VND per person. While being on board, there are many photo and video opportunities. The passengers can light up their own lanterns and drop them on the water, and make wishes. This experience is a must for visitors who visit Hoi An Old Town.  

Local Candle Lantern Sellers

One of the most beautiful scenes that visitors will see in the Hoi An Lantern Festival is locals selling paper lanterns by the river. Many old-aged women appear in well-known pictures that have been awarded internationally. Check out instagram, there are many lively photos posted about. They exchange a lantern for 10,000 VND in common and the buyers then use a stick to bring it down to the water. Locals pray after dropping, for themselves and beloved ones, about health, work, money, and more. In Buddhism festivals, people pray for wandering souls who await to be rebirthed.

Colorful Lantern Shops

Lantern shops are instagrammable spots in town during the Lantern Festival. It becomes an epic background to produce nice pictures, to post on social media. For many visitors, they must get one while traveling in Hoi An. Walking across the bridge and turning right, there are more shops with sparkling lanterns. No doubt that you may see nice photos people photograph over there, on the internet. If buying something, it’s free to pose besides lighting lanterns varying in size, shape and color. Without a purchase, you may pay around 20,000 VND for the chance.  

The Earth Hour

Once a year, the Earth Hour in Hoi An Old Town encourages all venues to shut down the electric lights and light up the lanterns. The aims are perfect to be held with the Lantern Festival.

Hoi An Lantern Festival Activities

Breaking the Clay Pot Game

Both adults and childrens like to play this Vietnamese folk game. According to the rule, the players will be blindfolded, and then use a stick to break any clay pots hanging up in the front. However, because can’t see, it’s not easy to get closer to the pots and break one of them. Players have to listen to instructions from people to be able to do. Only a hand out is accepted and the money in the broken pot is the reward. Each player may pay 10,000 VND for one time.

Watching Bai Choi (A Unesco Heritage)

Bai Choi is performed in Vietnamese communal houses in the rural areas every spring. It’s a mix of gaming and singing, allowing participation of all ages. Near An Hoi bridge, visitors will see bamboo huts looking towards an open yard where local artists host the games. According to the rules, the host takes a bamboo stick from the tube and sings a song well-corresponding to the content written on it. If the cards of the players match with the songs three times, they win. Watching how people go about their work and performances are nice to understand a little bit more about local culture.

Learning Folk Songs

Near the Japanese Covered Bridge, the class to teach small childrens traditional songs is held in the Lantern Festival. Although impossible to understand what they sing, the tone, instruments and emotion are without any borders to feel. For visitors, a very good chance to know this slice of local culture that is rare to see in other times and other places.  

Calligraphy and Handicrafts

The calligraphy with good words (in Chinese) is the favourite of people to decorate the home in the New year festival. In common days, it also has a great meaning. In the full moon, some calligraphers place a mat on the pavement and produce arty letters on the papers. In addition, visitors have the chance to see artisans at work, in making handicraft objects like bamboo root statues or lanterns. 

Tips Before Visit the Hoi An Full Moon Festival

Hoi An Lantern Festival is famous, so therefore visitors need to face the crowds and congestion in the prettiest areas. The Japanese covered bridge, An Hoi bridge, the waterfronts, and night market are usually packed, by pedestrians, vendors, boat owners and performers. To avoid the crowds, many people visit the town earlier, around sundown time. However, the atmosphere is quieter and the beauty of the town is not at the best yet at that time. If traveling with beloved little ones, keep an eye on them to ensure they are always near their parents. Personal belongings like phones, wallet, camera and jewelry are the next things to be kept carefully.

See and Do in Hoi An Old Town

Hoi An Night Market

Occupying a 150-meters-long street, this night market has over 150 stalls selling foods, souvenirs, gifts and of course, lanterns. Its lantern shop is one of the highlights, drawing many visitors to photograph and buy. In the surroundings, it’s not hard to find yummy street dishes and Hoi An’s food specialties to taste. The busy hour is from 7 to 9 p.m when crowds fill the passages.

See also: Hoi An Night Market

Cinnamon Cruises

This Thu Bon river cruise provides a dining experience with a romantic view in the surroundings. In which, visitors enjoy delicious foods and cold drinks while the boat leisurely moves across the calm water. From the table, twinkling lantern boats and lighting candle lanterns or mellow sunset previously, all in the memory box. Suitable for couples and small families, it’s necessary to reserve in advance.

Hoi An Lune Center

Within the Moon dome, extraordinary cultural shows organized by the Hoi An Lune Center are worth seeing. All are performed by professional artists, depicting different slices of Vietnamese life from countryside to city. The music background throughout the shows is a perfect mix between many instruments. Tickets are sold in the theatre (at the end of Nguyen Phuc Chu St) and online.

Hoi An Memories Show

Participated by 500 actors and actresses, this largest outdoor visual art show debuted in 2018. It recalls the history and culture of Hoi An from its beginning to the present, allowing the audience to have an easy visualization. Outside of the stage, there are other things to see and do in Hoi An Impression Theme Park. If booking, your full moon night is absolutely awesome. 

Eat and Drink in Hoi An Full Moon Festival

Street foods from vendors or small carts are the highlight in the Old Town after it’s dark. Visitors can expect a variety of choices, in places with and without tables. Banh uot cuon thit nuong, the local-style pork skewers are grilled right in open-air barbecue. It’s served with rice and dry rice papers, sliced cucumber and mango, pickles, raw vegetables to roll and a bold sauce to dip into. Around An Hoi bridge and the Night market are the most busiest areas by the sellers. While tasting delicious wraps, visitors can enjoy people watching and a lively world in the surroundings.

In roadside and riverfront eateries, signature Hoi An’s noodle Cao Lau is served. It’s chewy, browny and made by locally-sourced ingredients like Tra Que herbs, Ba Le well’s water or Cham island’s wood ash. In each bowl, the noodle is topped by thinly sliced char siu pork, vegetables and bottomed by a fully-flavourful sauce. Com ga, the chicken rice is also seen in the menu, featuring yellow rice with shredded chicken salad above. Nowhere else in the country, the taste of the dish is better than Hoi An.

Restaurants in Hoi An Old Town and its environs are plenty to choose from, if requiring an indoor space with table service. Style of cuisine is actually diverse, from local, Vietnamese, fusion to from different countries worldwide. Street food bites and Hoianian specialties are catered by the kitchens there as well. The recipe is authentic, but sometimes has a twist to make the food unique. Read our article to find out top places, in centralvietnamguide/hoi-an-old-town-restaurants.

Hoi An Lantern Festival Tour

The Lantern Festival is one of the best times to visit Hoi An and is only celebrated once a month. Check the full moon reschedule above to know the exact day, to arrange your own time to visit the town. If you need an experience more than just to see the beauty of the lanterns at night, a guided tour is one of the finest options. In which, two-ways transportation from the hotel, local English-speaking guide, entrance tickets, sightseeing trip around Hoi An Ancient Town, night market, well-known tailors are regular inclusions. Half-day or full-day durations are absolutely up to the plan of each traveler.

To know tour recommendations, book a knowledgeable tour guide or advice and tips, text us to find out answers quicker. Our whatsapp number is +84968009827 and email is centralvietnamguide@gmail.com.

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