Sarasota has been known to be one of the most rich and diverse “melting pots” of ethnic culture attracting people from all over the world. For years, the Vietnamese have called Sarasota their home, comparing the warm, breezy, tropical climate with their own tropical paradise on the other side of the world.

Sarasotans will appreciate Sunday, February 11, which is The Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet, a  significant and cherished holiday in Vietnamese culture, comparable to New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one.

The Happy Monastery, also known as Tu Viện Hạnh Phúc, is a Buddhist temple located at 4101 S Lockwood Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL 34231. It is a sanctuary for personal growth and spiritual enlightenment, with a mission to spread happiness, peace, and well-being. Here will be the site of the huge celebration Feb. 10, which draws 3 +K from all over the country for a full day of celebration through food, prayer, dance, and more. In the United States, particularly in Vietnamese American communities, Tet celebrations hold great importance as they serve as a way for people to connect with their cultural heritage, engage in traditional rituals, and maintain a sense of community and identity. These celebrations include activities such as paying respects to ancestors, sharing traditional meals, wearing cultural clothing, and participating in festive events like parades and dragon dances.

Overall, the Vietnamese New Year’s celebrations in America are important as they provide a means for Vietnamese Americans to preserve their cultural traditions, strengthen community ties, and pass down their heritage to younger generations.

Lily Nguyen is one of the organizers of the festival and an immigrant from Vietnam. She moved to Sarasota 6 years ago and now operates a successful nail salon, ProNails on Clark Rd. She says she – and other of her colleagues who are business owners in Sarasota – believes these festivals are imperative to keeping the younger American/Vietnamese generations in touch with their heritage and that the experience will help them all foster a sense of community. “The monastery is known for its focus on creating a supportive environment for individuals seeking spiritual development and meditation practices,” says Nguyen. “But every year we enjoy bringing all the younger children and teens together to share experiences, so they can develop a true appreciation of their roots. While Sarasota’s Vietnamese community is smaller compared to larger cities, it’s tightly-knit and passionate about preserving traditions.”

Lily Nguyen immigrated from Vietnam to the US and settled in Sarasota. She and her large circle of Vietnamese friends are intent on keeping up their rich traditions for future generations.

While Tet, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, is celebrated Feb. 9 – 11,  I can still tell you how Vietnamese communities in Sarasota typically celebrate it. Here’s a glimpse:


The community actively organizes events throughout the year, not just during Tet, offering a glimpse into Vietnamese culture for all residents.

Buddhist Venerable Tam Nguyen

The Buddhist Venerable Tam Nguyen says, this vibrant and diverse event is open to everyone in the Sarasota community and beyond. This year we are expecting over 3000 attendees, with over 2000 attendees last year alone. It’s a fantastic opportunity to experience the rich cultural heritage of Vietnam right here in Sarasota.

According to publicly available census data, about 6000 people live in Sarasota County, making the Lunar New Year celebration the largest Vietnamese community celebration in the area.

If You Go:

The Happy Monastery, also known as Tu Viện Hạnh Phúc, is a Buddhist temple located at 4101 S Lockwood Ridge Rd, Sarasota, FL 34231.

Open to public. An incredible selection of ethnic foods will be available for sale. (Note: No alcohol allowed).What you’ll see?

During the celebration, you’ll have the chance to witness traditional dances such as the dragon dance, lotus dance, and various cultural Vietnamese dances. Including dances directed and taught by Lily Liu. These performances showcase the beauty and diversity of Vietnamese culture and add vibrancy to our festivities.

In addition, we’ll have singing performances from people such as Lily Lieu and many more. Moreover, there will be delicious and authentic vegetarian Vietnamese food as well as a plethora of activities for all.

People from all over the country, including states like California, Texas, and Nebraska, as well as international visitors from Vietnam, travel to Sarasota specifically for our festival.

“It’s a true testament to the growing popularity and significance of this event,” says Lily.


We look forward to celebrating the Lunar New Year together!

Andrea Mastrocinque-Martone is Sarasota Event Calendar’s Chief Editor. She is the former A & E Editor for Sarasota Observer Newspapers and is currently a public relations consultant.