QuanLan Festival is organized from the 10th to the 20th of the 6th month of Lunar Calendar) in QuanLan, Van Don, QuangNinh to commemorate Tran Khanh Du, a famous general of the Tran dynasty. In a nutshell, QuanLan Festival is a chance for people to not only pay tribute to Tran Khanh Du for his glorious victory over Nguyen Mong army in 1288, but also ask for a bountiful harvest. This festival is celebrated by the inhabitants of QuanLan Island located in the ancient Van Don trading center. The festival venue is also a harbor where QuanLan Temple, one of the last ancient temples that still remain nowadays, is situated.
On the 10th, QuanLan Festival starts with a very interesting custom called Village Lock. No inhabitants inside the village can go out but visitors from other parts of the province and the country can come and participate in the wonderful event. Next, people organize different competitions, among which boat racing is most anticipated. Strongest men in the village are arranged into two team named Dong Nam Van and DoaiBac Vo; they set up their tent since the 13th to practice and prepare their own boat. Boats used in this competition usually reach a weight of 5 or 6 tons with a pretty wide and deep hull; their decoration makes them look like giant dragons floating on the ocean.
On the 16th, people worship Tran Khanh Du and bring his tablet from the harbor to the temple. Down at the wharf, the two racing teams practice intensively to get ready for the competition on the 18th. On that exact day, when the tide reachesthe temple’s harbor platform, the competition gets started. The sounds of drumbeats, shouting people and flying flags increase unceasingly. The leader of each team takes turns to amaze viewers with breathtaking martial arts movements. Then, the two teams greet each other three times to refer to 3 victories of their ancestors over Nguyen Mong army. The competition only begins when the leaders finish worshipingthe general.
Even though QuanLan Festival resembles the image of a village’s traditional festival, it is nowadays organized on a really large scale to express the brave and durable spirit of QuanLan people, who are always willing to fight for their country’s independence and peace.