Hoi An Lantern Festival Guide & Dates

Hoi An Lantern Festival Guide & Dates

Between the colorful Hoi An lantern festival held every month and the local favorite dish Cao lau, it’s debatable which put this little town on the tourist map. The lantern festival has become popular enough that even if your visit isn’t on the full moon date you can still participate in the Hoi An traditional full moon festival just about any night. Lanterns are lit every night after the sun has sank in Hoi An. Candles are placed at the bottom of the colorful paper lanterns. The Hoi An lantern festival is a gorgeous tradition.

Hoi An at night on the full moon during the lantern festival - river front

The lanterns are set into the river as an offering and to worship their ancestors as well as the God of the land. This tradition started centuries ago where on the full moon people from all over the region would come to participate.

A single yellow lantern floats down the river during the Hoi An Lantern Festival

The practice is still alive today and at 8 pm on the eve of the full moon the lights of the town are shut off, and the only light comes from the lanterns being carried down the river.

Hoi An Lantern Festival dates for 2017 & 2018

YearMonthHoi An Lantern Festival Date
2017AugustAugust 8th, 2017
2017SeptemberSeptember 6th, 2017
2017OctoberOctober 6th, 2017
2017NovemberNovember 4th, 2017
2017DecemberDecember 3rd, 2017
2018JanuaryJanuary 2nd, 2018
2018JanuaryJanuary 31st, 2018
2018FebruaryNo Hoi An Lantern Festival in February 2018
2018MarchMarch 2nd, 2018
2018MarchMarch 31st, 2018
2018AprilApril 30th, 2018

Things to know about the Hoi An Lantern festival

As beautiful as it was to see, I had visions in my head that the river would be full from bank to bank with colorful light, but it wasn’t. It seems that it has been turned into somewhat of a tourist attraction and the only lanterns afloat were the ones launched by tourist paying to simulate the tradition.

A group of colorful lanterns float down the river in Hoi An during the full moon lantern festival

We timed our trip to coincide with a full moon, but the largest event is the first full moon of the lunar new year. We were there during the 2nd full moon of the year and to be honest, it wasn’t that much different than a normal night in Hoi An. I guess I wouldn’t go out of my way to get there during the full moon again (except for maybe the first one), but if you happen to be there it’s pretty to see the town less light up, and a few more lanterns than usual.

A young vietnamese boy sits at the river bank selling lanterns for the Hoi an full moon lantern festival

Hoi An, Vietnam is a beautiful city no matter what the stage the moon is in: Great food, culture, and just a charming town.

Should You Light A Lantern at the Hoi An Lantern Festival?

How could you go all the way to Hoi An and not put a lantern in the river during the lantern festival Hoi An?

Well, as pretty as it was, I just got to thinking where are all these lanterns going? Aren’t we just putting more trash into the sea?

A woman standing in front of a shop selling lanterns for the Hoi An Lantern festival

Sure there are way worse things going out there on a daily basis than some paper and a candle stub. However, it was more than just the littering, I saw no local people participating in the tradition, and it felt like it was only done for the tourists. I hate things that exist solely for the purpose of tourism. I am sure at one time this was a beautiful event every full moon, but now lanterns are dunked in every night of the month just for the tourists watch, and something about that feels wrong.

Now, Hoi An was our favorite town in all of Vietnam and the experience with the lanterns didn’t wreck it, but just made us think what kind of impact we are having on the world when we travel.

A man sits in front of his shop selling lanterns of the date of the Hoi An lantern festival that falls on the full moon

Hopefully, there is a smart little business lady waiting at the end of the river to collect and reuse these lanterns, but I am not sure of that. If there isn’t, there should be, she would be rich!

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8 Comments
  • Suzette Barnett
    Posted at 17:30h, 03 August Reply

    Hi! This happens every single night? I saw something similar in Thailand, it was quite a sight. Suzette – TrySomethingFun.com

    • Adam
      Posted at 04:55h, 29 September Reply

      Every single night we were people were lighting the lanterns and sending them down the river. We just thought about all the paper that was collecting somewhere and just turning into a pile of trash, so we didn’t participate.

  • Veronique - The Beauty is in the Walking
    Posted at 03:21h, 07 August Reply

    Hey, great photos of the lanterns! Unfortunately we missed that festival when we went there but enjoyed wandering in the old town so much and visiting the Tra Que organic garden outside the city. Did you know it? It is a lovely place.
    Cheers!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 22:53h, 15 August Reply

      Hoi An is magical all the time, don’t worry that you weren’t there for the full moon festival. We didn’t know about the garden, thanks for the info.

  • Dan On The Road
    Posted at 10:05h, 12 February Reply

    All those lanterns are already pretty enough not to be set sail along the river! Really useful information you have here, helps me to plan on the best times to visit Hoi An.

    • Hannah Lukaszewicz
      Posted at 06:26h, 14 February Reply

      Glad we could help plan your trip to the Hoi An lantern festival. You are right the lanterns are pretty enough they don’t need to be sent down the river.

  • Elena Soler
    Posted at 13:30h, 29 October Reply

    Hi! Nice pictures!! I’m planning to go to Hoi An in January. Do you know if the festival is “celebrated” the day of full moon or the day before? For example, in January it would be during 30th night or 31th night?. Thank you!!

    • Adam
      Posted at 14:33h, 29 October Reply

      The full moon happens on the 31st in January 2018 in Vietnam which should be the date of the festival, there isn’t much during the daytime, it’s mostly a night thing. Enjoy! Hoi An is one of our favorites!

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