What's On in Ho Chi Minh City
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Expats should make an effort to witness local festivals as these offer an interesting insight into various aspects of Vietnamese culture and are a great opportunity to rub shoulders with the local population.
Below are some of the main festivals and annual events in Ho Chi Minh City.
Tet Festival (January/February)
The Tet Festival, or the Lunar New Year, is the most celebrated event in Vietnam. It falls between 19 January and 20 February each year and lasts a whole week. A series of events are held to grandly celebrate the occasion, including massive fireworks displays and street processions. The local Vietnamese people make a huge effort to dress in their finest clothing and visit family and friends at this time of year.
Ba Thien Hau Pagoda Festival (February)
This event is a classic Chinese celebration that honours Lady Thien Hau. It is held at the Ba Thien Hau Pagoda where monks carry out ritual burnings and make offerings while being watched over by massive crowds.
Saigon Cyclo Challenge (March)
Each year a three-wheel cyclo race is held through Ho Chi Minh City. The proceeds from the event benefit a variety of local children’s charities.
Liberation Day (April)
On 30 April each year events are held to honour the end of the Vietnam War and the Fall of Saigon in 1975, which ultimately led to the reunification of the country. These are two public holidays where most Vietnamese get involved in local festival activities.
Buddha’s Birthday Festival (May)
The festival held to mark the birthday of Buddha falls on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month. In Ho Chi Minh City, major celebrations are held at the Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda. This Buddhist temple is beautifully decorated with colourful lanterns. Buddhist monks can be seen leading processions along the streets and praying throughout the city.
Ho Chi Minh’s Birthday (May)
Each year on 19 May events are held in Ho Chi Minh City to celebrate the birthday of Vietnam’s former president, who was a key figure in helping gain freedom for the people of Vietnam. He is a national hero and is still highly honoured by the Vietnamese, especially in the city that was named after him.
Tet Nguyen Tieu (September)
Vietnam Film Festival (December)
Every year in December, Ho Chi Minh City hosts the country’s largest film festival over a period of five days. Local and international films are showcased at cinemas across the city.