If you’re planning to travel to Hoi An this year, time your visit to enjoy a special opportunity to see Vietnam’s minority hilltribe communities. In recognition of the beauty of ethnic diversity, a cultural event capturing the pride of Vietnam’s 54 tribes will be celebrated every month at Anantara Hoi An beginning 31 January.
The Ethnic Minorities Festival is a collaboration between various organisations that include the Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Quang Nam Province and the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum. What it strives to do is to highlight the richness and diversity of local ethnic minority groups, and runs alongside Hoi An’s lantern festival taking place on the 14th day of every lunar month when the moon is at its brightest.
The cultural festival will feature the traditions of the Tay Giang, Dong Giang and Nam Giang districts in the form of colourful performances. Anantara Hoi An also organises a pop-up arts and crafts market that allows local artisans to offer hand-embroidered fabrics, original art and all-natural organic produce such as honey and coffee for sale.
You will also be able to purchase and collect original photography by Réhahn, a renowned French photographer who has spent years documenting Vietnam’s ethnic minorities and who is one of the festival’s main sponsors. His poignant work offers an insight into the daily life of the local communities and celebrates the richness and diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic cultures.
A high point in the day-long festival is the launching of lanterns from Anantara Hoi An’s jetty at sunset. As the dusk settles in, the Thu Bon river is set aglow with the shimmering light of a multitude of colourful paper lanterns as they drift downstream.
While such festivals are lovely for visitors to behold, they also serve a larger purpose in assimilating minority folk and giving them more access to information and progress while preserving their cultural identity and beauty. In time to come, for example, some of them will be able to transition from slash and burn cultivation to more sustainable forms of agriculture. For now, the monthly festival is certainly a fun way to begin dialogue and engagement.