Sapa hosts numerous cultural festivals throughout the year due to the district’s great ethnic variety. The majority of ethnic groups in Vietnam practice ancestor worship as well as the worship of spirits claimed to affect various aspects of life such as weather and harvest. Aside from their everyday rituals, these deities are worshiped and thanked through a variety of colorful and thrilling festivals.
Nao Cong Festival, held in June on the lunar calendar, is attended by residents of Moung Hoa Valley’s H’mong, Dao, and Giay villages. Each household sends one delegate to the festival to pray for a prosperous second harvest, and it is thought that paying homage to the appropriate spirits will ensure favorable conditions and bountiful harvests.
Tet Nhay Festival is a Dao celebration held during the Tet national holiday, which is observed throughout Vietnam. The Dao gather in Ta Van on the second day of Tet to honor their gods and pray for happiness in the future year. The festival’s main attraction is a traditional ceremonial dance performed around a central altar. Paper making and sculpting are two other cultural activities at the festival.
This celebration was founded by the Giay people and is held in early January of the lunar calendar. It is held at Ta Van Village and attracts crowds from all surrounding villages. It has now grown to become the largest festival in Muong Ha Valley, with thousands of people coming each year. The celebration honors the Mother of the Land, and participants pray for a bountiful harvest throughout the forthcoming farming season.
People participate in traditional games, singing, and dances in addition to worshiping. People are frequently reunited with old acquaintances they haven’t seen in a year, while younger people take advantage of the opportunity to find a suitable spouse or wife. The mood is upbeat, and good food and drink are offered throughout the event.
Gau Tau is an H’mong event organized by individual families in the village, who take turns organizing it. The welcoming family invites the village shaman to assist them in expressing appreciation to the gods and ancestors and praying for prosperity and happiness. Following the end of the rite, the entire village will come together to compete in traditional sports and dances, all set to a soundtrack performed by traditional instruments.