The Hung King Temple Festival is annually held from 8th to the 11th days of the third lunar month. The main festival day is on the 10th day of the third lunar March, on which the National Assembly has approved Vietnamese working people to annually have one more national holiday to mark the anniversary of the Hung King’s death. Every year, on this traditional occasion, Vietnamese people worldwide join their brothers and sisters in spirit to observe Vietnam National Day in commemoration of their ancestors. The main ceremony takes place at the Hung Temple on Nghia Linh Mountain in Phong Chau District, Phu Tho Province, some 85km northwest of Hanoi. The Hung King Temple Festival is one of the most important and sacred festivals of the Vietnamese people, deeply imbedded in the minds of every Vietnamese citizen, regardless of where they originated from.
The Hung Temple is an ancient and sacred architectural ensemble on the top of the 175 metre-high Nghia Linh mountain. The festival offers an opportunity for Vietnamese to visit their land of origin. A day before the festival, ancient and modern flags are to be hung along the road leading from Viet Tri to Hung mountain. A large ballon will also publicise the festival to surrounding areas. On the eve of the festival, 100 flying lights are released into the night sky. The main worship service is held in earnest the following morning, 10th day, beginning with a flower ceremony. In Den Thuong (Upper Temple) where the Hung Kings used to worship deities with full rituals, the ceremony consists of a lavish five-fruit feast. Banh chung (square cake) and banh giay (circle cake) are also served to remind people of the Lang Lieu Legend (the 18th Hung King who invented these cakes), and the merit of the Hung Kings who taught people to grow rice. Next to the stage procession for deities, there are several marches in the procession such as the elephant march followed by the procession chair. The procession marches are followed by a Xoan song performance (a classical type of song) in the Den Thuong, a “Ca Tru” (a kind of classical opera) in Den Ha (Lower Temple), and other activities like cross-bow shooting, rice cooking, swinging contests, cock fighting, and dragon dancing.
On the day of the Hung King Temple Festival, the Vietnamese always jubilantly take part in the festival with religious belief deeply imbedded in their minds, that is their love and pride of their ancestral land. The Festival not only attracts visitors from all over the country thanks to its special traditional cultural activities, but it is also a sacred pilgrimage back to the origins of the Vietnamese nation.