Bạch Đằng Festival
Place: Yên Giang Commune, Yên Hưng District
Time: The festival is organized on the eight day of the fourth lunar month, some years last 4 days and nights.
Significance: It celebrates the Bạch Đằng Victories of national heroes struggled against foreign aggression: Ngô Quyền (938); Lê Hoàn (981); and Trần Hưng Đạo and the famous generals of the Trần Dynasty (1288).
Bạch Đằng River has been etched into locals’ memories as a site where national heroes struggled against foreign aggression. These included: Ngô Quyền who planted sharp wooden stakes into the riverbed to defeat a Chinese invasion force (938); Lê Hoàn (981); and Trần Hưng Đạo and the famous generals of the Trân Dynasty (1288).
The ceremonies are comprised of the usual incense burning and offerings in Trần Hưng Đạo Temple and Vua Bà Temple. The populations of the village stage a procession along the banks of the river, and also have a boat race. Bamboo leaf-shaped kayaks gliding across the water surface with the shouting of spectators celebrate the victories of days gone by.
Along with the boat races, other entertainment is organized for the festival, such as wrestling, human chess playing, and cock-fighting.
Cửa Ông Festival
Place: Cửa Ông Temple, Cửa Ông Ward, Cẩm Phả Town.
Time: Yearly, the festivities take place at the Cửa Ông Temple from the second day of the first lunar month until the end of the third lunar month.
Significance: Cửa Ông Temple is dedicated to Trần Quốc Tảng, the third son of Trân Hưng Đạo, who defeated many enemies and brought peace to the region. Hoàng Câu, a local general who fought bravely against invaders, is also honoured here. The festival dedicates to the merit of Trần Quốc Tảng and other Generals of Trân Dynasty.
Cửa Ông Temple is one of the famous Trân Dynasty vestiges of the northeast region. The temple has three areas: low, middle and high, facing the majestic Bái Tu Long Bay. During the war, the middle and lower temples were both destroyed, but today the low temple has been restored.
Formerly, locals organized the main festivity on the second day of the third lunar month. There were grand cult ceremonies, and a palanquin procession carrying Trần Quốc Tảng’s funeral tablets from the temple to a shrine in Trác Chân Commune. Legend has it that this was the place where Trần Quốc Tảng’s ashes drifted after being dispersed on the river. The procession would then proceed back to the temple, symbolizing the inspection tour of Trần Quốc Tảng (called Đức Ông).
Long Tiên Pagoda Festival
Place: Long Tiên Pagoda at the foot of Bài Thơ (Poem) Mountain, Hạ Long City
Time: The official festive day is on the 24th of the third lunar month
Significance: Long Tiên Pagoda was built quite recently, 1941, and is the largest pagoda in Hạ Long City. The festivities of the pagoda are not reserved solely for Buddhist faithful, but hold a spiritual meaning for every local.
Some locals say that every day is a festive day at Long Tiên Pagoda. Foreign and domestic tourists arrive for sightseeing, while faithful burn incense and recite prayers to Buddha. But it is on the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month that they arrive in greater numbers, and particularly over Têt.
When spring arrives, it is the festive season for the whole region. People call Long Tiên Pagoda Tŕnh (submit) Pagoda. They arrive to burn joss-sticks here first, afterwards to continue on a pilgrimage to Yên Tu Mountain and finally to participate in the festivities at Cua Ông Temple.
Locals organized a procession carrying palanquin pass by Trần Quốc Nghiễn Temple (Đức Ông Temple) to An Dương Vương Temple in Vung Đâng via Lồng Tồng then back to the pagoda. It was told that in the carrying palanquin race of the processions many people carrying palanquins run fast seem to fly past the canal like in the tale.
Thập Cửu Tiên Công Festival
Place: At Thập Cửu Tiên Công Temple (Temple of the 19 Founding Fathers) in Cẩm La Commune on Hà Nam Island, Yên Hưng District.
Time: Every year, the village starts the festivities on the seventh day of the first lunar month.
Significance: In commemorating the 19 founding fathers who built dykes, created the populated island of today.
Legend has it; the festival opening day was the day founding fathers discovered an underground fresh water on the island, more than 500 years ago.
At Tiên Công Temple, dignitaries present themselves to the founding fathers, then choose four elderly men to assist them in the ritual of ground-breaking.
On the seventh day, the senior men of the village (all older than 70 years old), along with their children and grandchildren, arrive at the temple. The young people carry offerings (include betel and areca, wine, steamed glutinous rice, chicken or the head of a pig) on their heads to the decorative cult tables. The elderly men follow them, if need be, aided by their offspring. Every family makes its own procession. All processions join together near the temple make a jubilant and animated atmosphere but still sacred. The old men present offerings and worship Tiên Công, the ceremony generally ends at noon.
Then, comes the ground-breaking ritual: the four chosen men pick four balls of earth and build a mock dyke in front of the incense table of the founding fathers. They then perform acts of wrestling to represent the “struggle against nature". This is to continue the cause of those who built dykes on the sea to protect the villages and hamlets of the island.
Trà Cổ Festival
Place: Trà Cổ Village, Móng Cái Town.
Time: Festivities in Trà Cổ take place yearly from the 30th day of the fifth lunar month until the sixth day of the sixth lunar month.
Significance: Nearly 600 years ago, Trà Cổ people built a communal house dedicated to the tutelary genies of the village. The festival is took place to memorize the merit of the tutelary genies of the village and pray good lucks for villagers.
Trà Cổ the site where one first places the pen on the map to draw the S-shaped character of Vietnam. The inhabitants of Trà Cổ originate from Đồ Sơn.
Quận He (Nguyễn Hữu Cầu), a leader of the peasants who rose up during the Lê - Trịnh period is also worshipped here. Representative of village communal house architecture of Vietnam, the building is still well preserved.
On the 25th day of the fifth lunar month, a procession of boats sails from Trà Cổ to the ancestors’ native land of Đồ Sơn. On the 30th day of the fifth lunar month, the boats return to Trà Cổ.
The next day, festivities begin with the procession of the King to the sea (also named the procession of the King to the shrine). It is accompanied by an armed troop, an orchestra, a strong and handsome young man chosen by the village population holding the flag and people carrying palanquin.
After the ritual procession, there are agricultural contests, such as a pig-breeding competition. The animals receive intensive care many months in advance from their masters in hopes of getting the first prize. There is also a cooking contest, with the best cooks acquiring fame throughout the village.
On the sixth day, the festivities conclude with a flower dance. In this ritual, the population pray to the genies to allow them to catch many fish, have good luck in their trading activities and to have a prosperous lives.
Quan Lạn Festival
Place: Đ́nh Wharf in Quan Lạn Commune, Vân Đồn District
Time: The festivities are organized yearly on the 18th day of the sixth lunar month, but the celebration lasts from the 10th to the 20th days of month.
Significance: The festival is organized to commemorate the victory against the Mongol invaders in 1288, as well as the feats of Trân Khánh Dư, a famous Trân general. They also pray for good “harvest” from the sea.
Quan Lạn Communal House Festival is the village-wide celebration for the inhabitants of the island community of Quan Lạn: located the central area of the ancient Vân Đồn Harbour.
The 10th day of the sixth lunar month features the ritual of “closing the village": the inhabitants cannot leave, but those who have moved away and other guests from any corner of the country are welcome.
The festivities of Quan Lạn Communal House are comprised of a traditional rowing competition: villagers are divided into two sides. They establish their particular training grounds on the 13th day of the month in order to prepare themselves. The boats used are ordinary 5 to 6-tonne fishing boats, with lowered sails and dragon-heads carved on the fronts.
The 16th day is reserved for receiving the genies. There is a procession for the funeral tablets of Trân Khánh Dư from the temple to the village’s communal house.
On the 18th day at about 3:00 PM (every year at this time the tide reaches the temple’s wharf), the boats start. The "soldiers" on one side wear a white jacket and blue pants, while the other group wears gray or black clothing. When the opposing generals meet each other at the communal house, the “soldiers” and spectators shout resoundingly; the noise echoes throughout the region. The two generals make sword-tracings in the air, and the two troops meet each other three times: symbolizing the three victories during the Trân Dynasty. Following the third meeting, they assemble before the shrine, and the rowing contest begins.
The Quan Lạn Communal House Festival bears characteristics of traditional village festivals, but is particularly grandiose, expressing the military spirit of the Vietnamese in the struggle against foreign invaders.
Yên Tử Festival
Place: The mountainous region of Yên Tử, Thượng Yên Công Commune, Uông Bí Town
Time: Yên Tử festivities begin on the ninth day of the first lunar month and last until the end of the third lunar month.
Significance: Yên Tử has been a centre of Buddhism for many centuries, and is the starting point of the Buddhist sect of Trúc Lâm. Travellers to Yên Tử Festival to stay away from the mundane and go on a religion pilgrimage in the midst of the mighty nature.
There is a popular saying about Yên Tử:"Even after 100 years of virtuous religious life, if you don't come to Yên Tử you cannot be called a true religious person".
In the wide ensemble of vestiges in Yên Tử, there are 11 pagodas and hundreds of shrines and towers. One form of entertainment is to climb the peak to where the Đông Pagoda was built (1,068m above the sea).
On the way, you'll see pagodas, a tower, a stream and a forest. At the top, after having burned joss-sticks, you seem to be lost in nature somewhere between the sky and the earth. When clear, you can perceive almost all of the northeast area from here.