Vietnam’s biggest cultural festival returns at the end of April
The central coast city of Hue is buzzing with excitement for its six-day, biennial, city celebration featuring culture, arts, and sports. From Apr. 29 to May 4, Hue will celebrate the 710th anniversary of the founding of its province, now known as Thua Thien-Hue. Festival organisers hope to highlight not only the cultural heritage of the area, but also feature special activities for tourists. The programme of events is riddled with traditional art as well as performances from art troupes and musicians from 18 nations.
If you take a look at the festival website, you’ll find a dizzying array of events and performances. When you’re planning your itinerary, don’t forget to include the festival highlights below.
Grand Opening Ceremony
The opening ceremony of the festival will take place on the night of April 29, from 8pm to 9.35pm, at Ngo Mon Square. A custom stage has been built specifically for the event, and the programme is a combination of Vietnamese traditional and international contemporary art performances. The Grand Opening Ceremony will end in a spectacular display of fireworks, directed by famed pyrotechnic artist, Pierre Alain Hubert.
Journey to Huong-Ngu Land
Immerse yourself in ancient times at the communal house of Kim Long village. On May 2, from 7.30pm, visitors can appreciate live traditional folk songs, the music of Hue’s Royal Court, an ao dai show, lotus tea with traditional cakes and fruits of the area, historic pictures and artwork, and traditional games. At the end of the event, participants are invited to float a lotus lantern down the river.
Imperial Night with Royal Banquet
The events at Imperial Night take you back to the past by submerging guests into the everyday lives of Vietnamese royalty. On May 1, from 7.30pm to 8.30pm, at Can Chanh Palace in the Citadel, participants will experience royal cuisine, performing arts of ancient times, traditional music, a royal wedding, a royal tea ceremony, and various art and cultural exhibitions.
Nam Giao Offering Ritual
Just after midnight on Apr. 29, the leaders of Thua Thien Hue, representing the province's population, will partake in offering rituals to ask that heaven, earth, mountain, river, and ancestors bless the nation with peace, prosperity, favourable weather and bountiful crops. The ritual begins with a small parade of the ancestral tablet from the Fasting Palace to the site of the offerings, and ends at Nam Giao Esplanade where the main rituals will take place.
Buddhist Celebration of Universal Illumination
Long engrained in Vietnamese culture, Buddhist practices are key to any important celebration or event. At Hue Festival, the Buddhist Celebration of Universal Illumination is a gathering of monks, nuns, and Buddhist followers expressing their wishes for prosperity, peace, and favourable weather. On May 1, from 8pm at Thuong Bac Park, expect a blend of spiritual practices with an artistic lantern dance.
Trinh Cong Son’s Music Concert
Celebrating the 15th anniversary of the death of famed Vietnamese composer, musician, songwriter, painter, and poet, Trinh Cong Son’s Music Concert will take you on a journey back to his mother’s homeland when he wrote his first love song in Hue. The concert takes place on May 1 from 7.30pm to 10pm.
L’homme Debout Company
On Apr. 30 at Trinh Cong Son Park and May 2 at Ham Nghi Yard, witness a seven-meter-tall puppet controlled by professional artists and 40 local Vietnamese people, and accompanied by music, lights, and fireworks. The intent of the company is to show the complicated human mind and to evoke feelings of conflict, retreat, wandering and collapse in its show titled Shining Stars in the Night.
Besides all the cultural content, artists and musicians from over 10 countries will be present for the festival. The lineup includes Stealing Sheep (UK), the Germein Sisters (AUS), The Chinchineros (CHI), the Youth Dance Group of Sri Lanka, bluegrass outfit Della Mea, jazz band the Michal Milczrek Trio from Poland and the Halleluya Dance Group from Israel. For more information, visit huefestival.com