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Hue festival reaches out to the world

Update: April, 10/2012 - 19:29

 

Nirvana: Thien Mu Pagoda on the bank of the Huong (Perfume) River. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh
Past masters: Some 300 actors take part in a recreation of an historical ceremony during which court officials were allowed by the king to visit their home after passing the­ royal examination. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
Going for a song: A singer performs while artisans from a local handicraft village go about their daily business. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Ngoc
Food fest: Visitors to the festival enjoy the local cuisine. — VNA/VNS Photo
Love is all around: Children from the House of Love charity centre make souvernirs for the biennial Hue festival. — VNS Photo Hoai Nam
King for a day: A recreation of the King's leaving of his palace. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan

Tours and accommodation

According to the organising committee, the city has over 200 hotels that will provide accommodation for 6,000 tourists during the nine day festival. That figure excludes guest houses and hostels, which are capable of hosting around 4,000 visitors.

Prices at four-star hotels range between US$100 and $120, while rooms in budget hotels cost between $20-$35.

A travel agent in Hue said they were expecting a record number of domestic tourists this year.

– Over 600 local and foreign reporters have registered to cover the festival.

– The festival has selected 300 volunteers and 800 students to help tourists and art troupes during the festival.

– A 1,300sq.m stage has been built at the Noon Gate, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies.

The city of Hue has hosted six international biennial festivals since 2000. The seventh edition of this multicultural event, which begins this weekend, is expected to attract a record 36 art troupes from 27 countries. Cong Thanh reports.

Orphans and underprivileged children from The House of Love – a charity centre in Hue – have been invited to participate in the 10-day Hue festival.

Nguyen Thi Tam struggles to communicate using sign language with her sisters and friends at an orphanage in the central city of Hue. The 18-year-old, who is deaf and mute, has been making artificial flowers, flower pots and necklaces to display at a pavillion at their first ever festival.

Tam is one of 51 orphans who suffer from a variety of disabilities brought up at the orphanage on Bui Thi Xuan Street.

­ "I'm extremely happy to be taking part in the festival this year. This will be the first time I've taken part in an event like this," said Tam, using sign language.

"My friends and I will be displaying our products for visitors from all over the world during the festival, and we hope to make a profession of it some time in the future," she said.

The orphanage has been training the children in handicrafts in the hope it will give them a chance of becoming independent in the future.

"The centre began teaching handicrafts to those capable of learning earlier this year. They are mostly orphans and underprivileged kids who have lived at the centre over the last decade," said Ho Thi Hien, manager of the centre.

Hien, 70, and 10 care takers work hard to care for their charges.

"We save every penny to give the children the best possible upbringing we can provide. Most of them have learnt to read and write and study independently. The kids who suffer from cerebral palsy or polio receive special care from our staff," said Hien.

She added that the children were eager to take part in the city's festivities.

"The reason we're excited to display our products is not just to make money for the orphanage, we want to show that these chidren are capable of creating things that are in demand."

Pham Dan Chi, a high-school student from Denmark whose parents are Vietnamese, has been volunteering at the centre since last month.

"It's a great chance for me to help kids at the House of Love before I start university in Denmark. It's an honour to take part in the Hue Festival on my first trip to my native country," Chi said in broken Vietnamese.

"The festival is a great chance for me and the kids to enjoy one of the country's largest cultural events that lures people from all corners of the world. The city's ancient architecture, heritage and friendly people are precious treasures of the country's former capital," Chi said.

Cross-cultural ­

The 2012 Hue Festival, themed Cultural Heritage with Integration and Development-The Rendezvous of Historical Cities, will be a montage of performances by art troupes from five continents, including seven from Latin America will be making their local debuts.

French fire dancing troupe Carabosse, formed in 1998, have been performing at the festival since 2006.

The group will be lighting up the city for three nights this year.

"We started planning last September. It's a fire installation, so we've prepared for a spectacular show after working with our experienced Vietnamese counterparts," said troupe leader, Philippe Bouler.

"We will perform a three-hour show that will illuminate the Phu Van Lau flag tower and the Royal Palace with thousands of flames," Philippe explained.

"Visitors usually view the Royal Palace during the day, so we want to give them a different perspective at night," he stressed.

"We expect up to 100,000 people to enjoy our show."

The Frenchman added: "The troupe has performed at numerous international festivals, but this one will be extra special."

"The festival will be a special cultural combination of diversified artistic performances from around the world," said the vice chairman of Thua Thien-Hue People's Committee, Ngo Hoa.

"The main stage will be located on the Huong River, and headlining the festival will be a show titled, Peaceful World, portraying the nations desire for peace and friendship across the globe. The festival will be a chance to increase cultural exchanges among East Asian countries and Latin America within the framework of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Co-operation," said Hoa, who is head of the festival organising committee.

He also said the city would be hosting the 13th annual conference of the League of Historical Cities (LHC) with the participation of representatives from 80 cities from 55 countries.

 

Hue to go: A theatrical recreation of a warship dating from the time of the Nguyeãn Lords. The popular show is staged every two years during the festival. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhat Anh
 
History of Hue

The Complex of Hue Monuments recorgnised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 features hundreds of monuments and ruins, such as the Forbidden Purple City, once the residence of the royal family and badly damaged during the American War, the Imperial City, royal tombs, a flag tower, pagodas, temples, a library and a museum.

Hue served as the administrative centre of southern Viet Nam in the 17th and 18th centuries. Gia Long, first ruler of the Nguyen dynasty, made it the national capital of united Viet Nam in 1802. Hue was the political, cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. The Perfume River winds its way through the Capital City, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City.

Hue represents an outstanding demonstration of the power of the vanished Vietnamese feudal empire at its height in the early 19th century. The complex of monuments is an outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital and of the planning and construction behind a fortified city.

Stradivaria Ensemble, a French Band, will perform a baroque concert – the Stabat Mater (1736) by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi – on stage at the Palace of Supreme Harmony, while Russian artists from the 1911-formed Pianitsky Chorus will also debut.

Dance troupes from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Panama, Columbia, Cuba and Australia will sway the main streets of Hung Vuong and Tran Hung Dao with their effervescent dancing.

"I'm looking forward to taking part in the festival because I missed it last time. It only comes around every two years, but when it does, it's like an explosion of life in this usually quiet city," said Nguyen Tuan Anh, a volunteer at the festival.

"It's a great chance and honour for me. I attended the festival twice as a student at Hue University, but this year I've volunteered to act as a guide for the art troupes," he added.

"I'll get closer to the performers and guide them during the 10-day festival. It's an opportunity to introduce foreign friends to the beauty of Hue and destinations that I visited as a student," he said.

There are only a few days until the festival opens, and the orphans from the House of Love are putting the final touches to their work.

"We will decorate our pavilion with flowers and make it one of the stand-out displays at the festival. We want to contribute a little of our endeavour to the success of the festival because it will be the first time we have taken part," Tam said.

Nothing they can do will bring their parents back, but the Hue Festival should be an unforgettable experience for the orphans of the House of Love. — VNS

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