Making a pilgrimage to Ngoc Hoi - Dong Da festival

The Dong Da festival is observed annually on the 5th day of the 1st lunar month at Dong Da Hill in Hanoi. It commemorates the triumphant victory of King Quang Trung over 290,000 Qing invaders 200 years ago. Making a pilgrimage to the Dong Da Festival, one of the most typical spring festivals in Hanoi, has become a time-honored custom of the Vietnamese people.

Making a pilgrimage to Ngoc Hoi - Dong Da festival  - ảnh 1
Performance revitalizing Dong Da victory

Dong Da Hill, which is located in the heart of Hanoi, remains surrounded by trees. Its peaceful atmosphere belies the fact that it was the scene of one of the fiercest fights in Vietnam’s history. In 1789, Tay Son troops led by Admiral Dang Tien Dong crushed Khuong Thuong station occupied by the Qing invaders, forcing their General to hang himself near Dong Da hill. This preliminary victory paved the way for King Quang Trung and his troops to enter Thang Long citadel and rout 290,000 Qing invaders. Since then, activities to celebrate the victory have been held annually on Dong Da hill.

After the liberation of Hanoi on October 10th 1954, the Dong Da hill festival was made an official annual event to honor the merits of the ancestors. The festival consists of solemn rituals, art performances, and folk games to revive the triumphant atmosphere of the ancient battle. Ta Huy Hung, a local war veteran, attends the festival every year. Hung shares his views: “Ngoc Hoi - Dong Da is one of the glorious feats of our nation. The contemporary generation must know about our tradition of national construction and defense. We have to honor our ancestors’ merit in protecting the nation.

 Visitors marvel at the stunning fire dragon dance and procession, which recalls the Tay Son attack on the invaders’ camp and celebrates the martial spirit of Thang Long’s people. Nguyen Thi Voi, a resident in Hoang Mai ward, says: “I admire the organization of the festival, which highlights our history and tradition since the Quang Trung regime. I always get excited by the festival.”

The festival’s games and performances include martial art performances, the four sacred animals dance, human chess, and a tug of war. Phan Huu Thanh, a banking official in Hoan Kiem ward, expresses: “I come to the festival every year. Each year, there are new interesting performances which show the national development.”

Thousands of people will flock to Dong Da Hill on the first day of the Lunar year to remember their ancestors’ glorious victory.