Hoi An Lantern Festival: 2016 dates

Hoi An Lantern Festival
Child selling lanterns at the festival

As you’ll certainly know if you’re a regular reader of our blog, we love Hoi An. The ancient, UNESCO-registered port town in central Vietnam boasts a beautiful colonial town centre, glorious beaches, some of the country’s finest cuisine, oodles of relaxing riverside cafes, lovely countryside, the ancient ruins of My Son – and since 1998, the famous and much-loved Full Moon Festival (AKA Hoi An Lantern Festival, or Ancient Town Night).

For the Vietnamese, the night of the full moon is a time to pay your respects to your ancestors by making offerings at family altars and burning lucky (fake) $100 bills to bring in luck and prosperity. Monks hold candlelit ceremonies at temples, and fishermen pay tribute to the goddess of the sea.

Lantern stand

On full moon (the 14th day of every lunar month) for the past 17 years, the streets of Hoi An have switched off their harsh, fluorescent lighting, been closed to traffic and replaced street sellers and mopeds with colourful lanterns, candles and traditional music, taking the old town back to yesteryear. The streets on this night are packed with both Vietnamese and foreign visitors who flock to the town to join in the festivities, playing traditional games, eating delicious vegetarian festival food and buying little cardboard lanterns with candles inside to float on the river – said to bring luck, happiness and love. Another popular activity during the full moon celebrations is to take a ride in a little sampan boat – a great way to get away from the crowds and see the festival from a different perspective.

Hoi An Lantern Festival

In January this year, The People’s Committee in the central province of Quang Nam, where Hoi An is located, announced that the formerly once-monthly festival will now take place every fortnight (on both full moon and new moon) – and have discussed the possibility of upping this to once a week, depending on attendance.

child lantern seller

Hoi An’s Office of Trade and Tourism reported in October last year that the city saw a 263% increase in visitors and hotel bookings around the time of the Full Moon Festival, so the new move to double the celebrations will capitalise on this spectacular success, bringing in more tourist dollars for the community and local businesses.

Good news, you might assume. But is more really more when it comes to these traditional events? Increasing the number of festivals to cater to tourist demand may reduce crowds a little and help distribute tourist business more evenly across the month, but isn’t it a step too far? Doesn’t it rob a little of the magic of the night, commodifying ancient customs for the entertainment of visitors?

For us, the jury’s out on this one. Tell us what you think in the comments below!

*** UPDATE 02/07/2015 ***

Since the announcement in February that the Hoi An Lantern Festival is to take place twice per month, no new dates have been confirmed – and it seems doubtful that the new programme will actually come into effect in 2015. We will keep you informed of any developments!

But do not despair! Though the festival is not officially happening twice per month, it seems that these days the festival atmosphere, party games, night markets and lanterns are a feature of every night in Hoi An – so you will certainly not be missing out if you can’t make it for any of this year’s dates.

2016 festival dates:

23rd January
21st February
22nd March
20th April
20th May
18th June
17th July
16th August
14th September
14th October
13th November
12th December

For the 2015 festival dates, click here.

12 replies on “Hoi An Lantern Festival: 2016 dates”
  1. Hi!
    Thank you and congratulations for the blog and post, very specialized in the real Vietnam. If you don’t mind, we have shared and recommended it in our @HanoiFlight Twitter post today.

    Our kind regards,


  2. says: rayza

    I believe you have the dates wrong.. e.g. The New Moon date for the 5th Month is correct – the 16th June, but the festival date is the 14th day of the month and that will be the 29th June, not 2nd July. The Full Moon is the next day,

    1. Good spot! You’re right, I uploaded the correct dates when I originally posted but then mistakenly changed them a couple of days ago. I have corrected them now. Many thanks for pointing this out!

  3. says: Andrew

    Has the New Moon festival on June 16 2015 been confirmed yet? If not, I may need to change my hotel reservation, as I missed the Full Moon festival last time I stayed in Hoi An!

    1. Hi Andrew, sorry for the slow reply – your comment must have slipped through our net! To my knowledge, the festival dates haven’t been confirmed yet. When will you be staying in Hoi An?

  4. says: Ai

    hello, i’m planning to visit Vietnam with my friends on January and was looking for festivals in January when I found your blog. is the date for the January festival fixed yet? and do you have any suggestions for places to visit? we haven’t decided our date yet, so we’re pretty flexible. thanks in advance

    1. Hello Ai, thanks for getting in touch. Yes – the 23rd of January is fixed for the full moon festival! Hoi An is one of our favourite places in Vietnam, and makes a wonderful place to stop even if you don’t catch the festival. Check out our blog post on Traveldudes for our top 5 things to do in the town! While you’re in central Vietnam, we also highly recommend stopping in the imperial city of Hue (around 3 hours’ drive from Hoi An) – or, if you like the great outdoors, make a trip to the incredible caves of Phong Nha National Park. I hope this helps, and have a wonderful time in Vietnam!

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