Photo: It's the most special evening of the month in Hoi An.

Full moon lantern festival

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If you happen to be in Hoi An on the 14th day of any lunar month, you’ll be treated to central Vietnam’s version of a full moon party.





The Hoi An lantern festival is an age-old tradition that sees the entire old town shut off electricity, close to traffic and transform into a magical melange of flickering candles, multi-coloured lanterns and lively gatherings.

Romance will be in the air, too. Photo taken in or around Full moon lantern festival, Hoi An, Vietnam by Cindy Fan.

Romance will be in the air, too. Photo: Cindy Fan

For the locals the night of the full moon is the time to honour their ancestors by setting up altars and offering fruit and flowers, burning incense and fake money outside homes and businesses in exchange for good luck and prosperity. This is a great time for a temple visit – each of the town’s pagodas are awash with activities, all free of charge. Monks hold candlelit ceremonies and the Phuc Kien (Fujian) Assembly Hall on Tran Phu Street hosts an inspiring gathering of local fishing families honouring Lady Thien Hau, goddess of the sea. All attractions are free for visitors on the night of the full moon. Other entertainment includes local street musicians playing traditional instruments, poetry readings, Chinese chess matches by candlelight and other traditional theatrics and games such as bai choi, a bit like musical bingo. To have any chance of knowing what on earth is going on, you’ll need a guide.

Once you’ve fought your way past the romantic Vietnamese couples holding hands and photo-bombed quite a few selfies, jostle your way to the riverfront where you’ll be accosted by locals selling cardboard lotus flower-shaped lanterns with a candle to be released on the river. We’re a bit skeptical about how traditional this actually is but the seller will convince you it will bring happiness, luck and love, all for the low, low price of 10,000 dong – like with everything in Vietnam, settle on the price before you release the lantern bearing your wish for future happiness. Those floating lanterns are a beautiful sight but at the risk of being a wet blanket, not releasing one means one less piece of rubbish in ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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