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Hội An Lantern Festival: Part One

by Tara

Every fourteenth day of the lunar calendar, Hoi An puts the complications of modern life to rest in favor of a romantic, nostalgic celebration of a quieter era. Once a month, instead of playing host to noisy scooters, the old quarter is reserved for pedestrians. And, rather than being lit by bright street lamps, the roads are bathed in the soft glow of jewel-tone lanterns of all shapes and sizes.

Hội An Lantern Hội An Silk Lantern Shop Hội An Lantern Festival Lantern

The Thu Bon river, which runs right through the middle of town, shimmers in greens and reds and golds as a hundred flower-shaped lanterns float peacefully upon it. Old women squat by the bridge, peddling candles and all manner of translucent containers to put them in. The scent of wax and incense fills the air.

Hội An Lantern Festival Floating Lanterns & Boat Hội An Lantern Festival Floating Lantern

Music and laughter ring through the dimly lit alleys, and on every street-corner, people are engaged in good old-fashioned fun, the kind of entertainment that doesn't involve speakers or screens or instant messaging. Enchanted, Tyler and I run around the cobble stone alleys, trying to capture the mood of it all with our camera and sound recorder.

On one street, a duet performs by lantern light…

Hội An Lantern Festival Musicians

While down the road, old men sit and ponder their XiangQi strategies by candlelight…

Hội An Man Playing XiangQi Hội An Man Playing XiangQi Hội An Man Playing XiangQi

Elsewhere in the city, paper is set alight in brass bowls on the street, the cheerful orange blazes adding even more ambiance to the evening. Perhaps the fires are lit to honor one's ancestors?

Hội An Lantern Festival Fire Hội An Lantern Festival Fire

Townspeople sit indoors for a poetry reading, while a couple of men listen and play XiangQi at the same time. I wish I spoke Vietnamese so I could understand the poems too!

Hội An Poetry Reading Hội An Poetry Reading Hội An Men Playing XiangQi

A Vietnamese Buena Visa Social Club of elderly musicians playing in a bright room, lit up against the darkness.

Hội An Elderly Quartet

We've been to many festivals on this journey, each with its own merits and delights, but the monthly celebration in Hội An is surely the most bewitching, perhaps because of the simplicity and elegance of it all. What good fortune that we have passed this way at the right time to see it!

Hội An Lantern

These nights are a welcome reminder of life's unexpected beauty.

Hội An World Heritages