HUE — A bright and colourful night-time spectacular featuring local and international performers launched the 2012 Hue Festival and the north-central coast's Year of Tourism at the Imperial Capital City's Noon Gate on Saturday. Prominent among the guests were Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and 25 foreign ambassadors.
|Dancers perform at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Hue Festival. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
Addressing the opening ceremony, Dung said the Hue festival was a rendezvous for countries to bring their traditional performances and created co-operative opportunities among nations.
The biennial Hue Festival, under this year's theme of Cultural Heritage with Integration and Development: The Rendezvous of Historical Cities, will see performances through April 15 by 65 performing groups and 50 cultural demonstrations with the participation of 1,500 artists from 28 countries around the world.
Saturday's opening programme showcased traditional Vietnamese dance troupes and musicians from the northern central provinces of Thanh Hoa, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, and Thua Thien-Hue.
The Carabosse troupe from France lit up the Noon Gate Square with a fire installation around the flag pole on a cool night in the former royal capital city, and the Russian chorus Pianitsky and performers from Australia also entertained a crowd of over 10,000 locals, guests and tourists.
Dung called the Year of Tourism a key event in the nation's tourism development strategy to 2020.
"Tourism has played a role as a major industry and contributed to the economic development of the country," Dung said. "We have targeted 12 per cent growth in tourism and expect to host 10 million foreign and 48 million domestic travellers by 2020, with earnings of US$20 billion.
"Tourism will also create 3 million jobs and contribute 7 per cent to the nation's GDP by 2020."
The Prime Minister also praised the efforts of the People's Committee of Thua Thien-Hue Province in hosting seven festivals successfully.
People's Committee chairman Nguyen Van Cao said, "It's honour for Hue to be hosting the tourism year. The seventh Hue festival is a great cultural event."
During the nine-day festival, performances will take place at different stages in the city. Events will also include a Nam Giao offering ritual and an ao dai fashion show.
Rural market festival
Tourists also flocked to Thuy Thanh Village for a rural market festival which opened yesterday, introducing traditional handicrafts in the picturesque village 7km outside of Hue, site of the Thanh Toan tiled-roof bridge.
|Back in time: Farmers fish at the rural market festival in Thuy Thanh Village yesterday.
At the festival, villagers served up local cuisine and demonstrated agricultural implements and hand-made products, including palm-leaf hats, fishing traps and nets. Boat races were also held on the Nhu Y River.
A new postal stamp with an image of Thanh Toan Bridge was also announced.
"This is the first time I've been here, and everything in the market festival is amazing," said 20-year-old Tran Thi Ai Nhi. "I tried the local food and enjoyed bai choi (singing local folk songs while playing cards)."
Villager Dao Thi Duyen demonstrated her family's conical hat-making process.
"Making the palm-leaf hats is a second job after the rice farming season is over," she said. "A hat costs only VND40,000 (US$1.90) and visitors can see how it is made."
The rural market festival, which closes on Saturday, is also hosting an exhibition of 50 paintings by local kids, and water puppet show will be staged on the river bank nightly. — VNS